July 1st Saturday | Wawel o Zmierzchu: CORda Cracovia with Marcin Koziak (piano) at Bathory Courtyard | Kraków, Poland
July 2nd Sunday | Akademia Muzyczyna w Krakowie Memorial Concert | Kraków, Poland
July 3rd Monday | Orion Trio with Chamber Musicians from Sinfonietta Cracovia at Pałac Biskupa Erazma Ciołka | Kraków, Poland
July 4th Tuesday | Sinofietta Cracovia with Soyoung Yoon (violin) and Amelia Maszońska (violin) at Sukiennice | Kraków, Poland
July 7th Friday | Festiwal Barbakan, Marcin Koziak | Kraków, Poland
On my first weekend, my local friend took me to the Wawel castle for the opening concert of the “Wawel o Zmierzchu” (“Wawel at Dusk”) series this summer. If I was already dazzled by the art gallery inside Sukiennice as a concert venue, then this time walking uphill and into Wawel and sitting inside the arcaded courtyard at sunset was breathtaking indeed. Naturally, I was too distracted by the choice of location than the actual program of the concert, which started with the music of none other than Chopin’s “Andante spianato and grande polonaise.” This mix of tranquility and festivity goes well with the ambience inside the castle. Other than Chopin’s music, the church bells and birds also joined in this musical parade. It was a lovely experience.
The Polish classic was followed by a commissioned piece from a very young Polish composer named Wojciech Michno, “Et lux in tenerbis lucet.” For me that was the most exciting part of the concert, hearing something completely new for the first time. Somehow this music reminded me of Shostakovich and even Bartók—so the Central and Eastern European lineage is traceable, I suppose. Then there was Grieg’s piano concerto, the choice of which was explained as having “a Chopin from the north.” How interesting! My friend and I didn’t stay for the Mendelssohn “Italian” Symphony. When we walked out of the courtyard, the castle was glimmering peacefully at dusk, and the square was almost empty. I had the privilege of having this whole place to myself and enjoying its spectacular beauty selfishly. We then headed to Kazimierz afterwards and made it to the very end of the Jewish Cultural Festival. There was music everywhere!
On Sunday I had a late start, but I couldn’t make myself stay inside all day long. I waited for the rain to stop and headed out to get tickets for next week’s concerts. While I was looking at the brochure for events, I found a free concert in the evening at the Academy of Music. Well, why not? On my way to the 6 pm concert, I walked by the Rynek, and there was a lively jazz scene going on. It was part of the “New Orleans Sunday” in Kraków. I decided to pause for a moment, basking in the generous evening sunshine and soaking in all the music in the air. This city is unreal!
The concert at the academy was an intimate setting, a memorial event for music professors. However, the level of these students was very high. I was pleasantly surprised and so glad I stopped by. I couldn’t remember when was the last time I heard harpsichord on stage, not to mention the “Kreutzer” sonata, an exceptional performance from young music students.
The next day I attended another concert of the Sinfonietta Festival, this time at a different location—the courtyard of Pałac Ciołka. There is something mesmerizing about outdoor concert, especially at such an intimate setting. There were church bells chiming and birds chirping, while the musicians plucked their strings. It was dreamy, and I almost don’t care about the music itself, only right here right now.
The day after, there was the very last concert of the Sinfonietta Festival back at the Sukiennice. The program is very Baroque, starting with Polish composer Henryk Czyż’shighly lyrical “Canzona di barocco” which ends with a very philosophical touch, unexpectedly, as if mimicking a cry of humanity (or is it?). The main theme, however, sounds very late nineteenth-century, which I adore. What is with this land and its musical ingenuity? J. S. Bach’s double violin concerto that follows shines in its full Baroque splendor. The Piazzolla in the second half is also quintessentially Baroque with a clear echo of Vivaldi dipped in the Argentine passion. It was marvelous.
After a two-day hiatus (much needed in the midst of busy coursework) I returned to the last concert of the Barbican festival, although the concert was moved to another location because of the rain. I actually heard the pianist Marcin Koziak play at the Wawel Castle a week ago. This time was his solo concert. The choice of program was quite unusual in the sense that it was almost too peaceful. I wonder if it would sound transcendental inside the Gothic barbican. The second half was all Chopin, but this time I realized that I am listening to it in the land of this music, and wow. Even though I know all of Chopin’s pieces almost inside out, it’s been a while since I listened to them so attentively. When I did, it was as if I were hearing this all anew, and it was magical.
This is only my second week in Kraków, and I already feel that I belong to the city thanks to all the great music I heard and all the beautiful concert venues I visited. Music is everywhere, and I’m so excited about the weeks to come!
Concert Program for July 1
Chopin, Andante spianato and Grande polonaise
Wojcich Michno, Et lux in tenebris lucet
Grieg, Piano concerto in A minor, Op. 16
Mendelssohn, Symphony in A major “Italian,” Op. 90
Concert Program for July 2
J. S. Bach, Concerto in C minor for two harpsichords, BWV 1060
Beethoven, Sonata in A major Op. 47 “Kreutzer”
Mozart, Double Concerto in E flat major for two pianos KV 365
Concert Program for July 3
Ludwig van Beethoven — Trio smyczkowe c-moll op. 9 nr 3
Ernst von Dohnányi — Serenada C-dur na trio smyczkowe op. 10
Franz Schubert — Kwintet smyczkowy C-dur D.956, część I (Allegro ma non troppo) i IV (Allegretto)
Concert Program for July 4
Henryk Czyż — Canzona di barocco
Johann Sebastian Bach — Koncert d-moll na dwoje skrzypiec, BWV 1043
Astor Piazzolla — Cztery pory roku w Buenos Aires
Concert Program for July 7
F. Liszt — “Ave Maria” (“Dzwony Rzymu”) S.182
F. Liszt — X Rapsodia Węgierska
A. Borodin — “W klasztorze” op. 1 nr 1
I. Albeniz — “Sevilla. Corpus Christi” z cyklu “Iberia”
F. Chopin — Andante spianato i Wielki Polonez Es-dur op. 22
F. Chopin — Nokturn F-dur op. 15 nr 1
F. Chopin — Scherzo b-moll op. 31