Sarah Watkins – Piano
Adrianna Lis, more affectionately known as Ada to those who know her closely, has just released her debut CD DIALOGUE/ROZMOWA on the Atoll Records label in New Zealand. The CD features Lis on flute as Sarah Watkins on piano playing compositions by Anthony Richie, Michael Williams, Gao Ping, Jack Body as well as many Polish composers of notoriety including Wojciech Kilar, Henryk Gorecki, Lukasz Wos, Michal Rosiak and Roxanna Panufnik.
Sonatine - Dialogue between Wind and Snow by Gao Ping; Sonatina for flute and piano by Wojciech Kilar; When We Fell by Michael Williams; The Conversation of Prayer by Roxanna Panufnik; Sonata Medgugorska by Lukasz Wos; 4 pieces from 'Rainforest' by Jack Body; Polish Dances Op. 155 by Anthony Ritchie; and The Melbourne Cup by Michal Rosiak.
Sonatine - Dialogue between Wind and Snow was written in December 2002 by Chinese pianist and composer Gao Ping, now lecturer at the School of Music at the Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand. The piece has a carefree, fresh and uncomplicated character. The music ideas are often presented in polyphonic textures to give a sense of dialogue and play. Dr. Gao writes: "The winter of 2002 was exceptionally snowy and windy in Cincinatti where I was residing at the time, and some of the ideas came to me while I was watching the snow through the window."
Sonatina for flute and piano is a lesser known work by Wojciech Kilar, who has gone on to compose music for over 100 films, by directors such as Roman Polanski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Andrezj Wajda, Francis Ford Coppola and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Kilar is sometimes seen along with Boleslaw Szabelski, Henryk Gorecki and Krzysztof Penderecki as belonging to the Polish avant-garde music movement of the 1960's But he largely abandoned avant-garde music, developing music in a romantic spirit, and maintaining simple but expressive structures imbued with Polish folk music. Sonatina was written during 1951 during the composer's student years, and for thirty years the manuscript was kept private. If it had not been for the inquiring mind of Polish flautist Grzegorz Olkiewicz this work most probably would still have been at the bottom of a drawer. This is an energetic classic duet in three movements. Noteworthy in this piece is the lovely second movement Andante con moto where we can see the composer's deep devotion to his birthplace and country.
Michael Williams writes about When We Fell "Having heard Adrianna Lis in concert, I was thrilled to contribute a piece for this CD. We found we shared a common interest in World War II history and decided there and then that this should be the central idea." The horrors of WWII remain very much a part of Polish collective memory. Like many of the people from Poland, Adrianna does not wish for these tragic events, in particular the Polish people's suffering and treatment, to ever be forgotten or diluted by time. When We Fell is in essence a reflection of this idea. A fall from grace; a fall from humanity; a falling way from one's self. Williams added "I have tried to imbue this piece with a sense of nostalgia, a hint of the military, and in parts, childlike innocence that in a strange way highlights the dismay at the loss of humility." The folk-like melody that runs through it is an adaptation of the Polish song To Ostatnia Niedziela composed by Jerzy Petersburski in 1936, a nostalgic tango which describes the final meeting of former lovers who are parting and which had the dubious honor of often being played while Jewish prisoners were led to their death in the gas chambers. The vocal track is a recording of some of the text from this song but toward the end a passage from Nietzsches's Thus Spoke Zarathustra is quoted in Polish.
Roxanna Panufnik is a British composer of Polish heritage. She is the daughter of the famous Polish conductor and composer Andrzej Panufnik. The Conversation of Prayer is an exploration of the lyrical abilities and colors of the flute. It was commissioned by publisher Universal Edition for a flute album Flute Project consisting of pieces written by five of Europe's most exciting and prestigious young flautists. Panufnik was chosen by Emily Beynon (currently Principal Flute with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam), who asked her to compose music inspired by Dylan Thomas's deeply sad but much loved poem.
Sonata Medjugorska by Lukasz Wos is a work written by a young Polish composer and pianist who focuses mostly on creating chamber and solo music form, with an interest especially for wind instruments. Written during 2001, the inspiration was the composer's residence in Medjugorska-Marian shrine in Herezgovina. Woz incorporates the Medjugorska song Gospa Majka Moja and the melody of the Litany of Loreto. This composition is full of dancing rhythms, melody and sonorous harmony, and it requires a great control of fast legato phrasing for this flute and the piano.
Jack Brody's ebullient 4 pieces from 'Rainforest' was originally commissioned by the New Zealand harp and flute duo "Flight"; and is a suite of 6 poly rhythmic transcriptions based on recordings of the music of the Aka and Benzele Pygmies of the Central African Republic. The music weaves fantastic tapestries of cross-rhythms and primal energy. The four movements presented here, Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 6, are in this case performed on flute (in No. 4 alto flute) and piano.
Anthony Ritchie plays special tribute to Poland and Adrianna Lis with his piece Polish Dances Op. 155 for flute and piano (2010). These lively pieces incorporate Polish folk and classical music into a contemporary musical fabric written and dedicated to Adrianna Lis by New Zealand composer Anthony Ritchie. Ritchie is notable in the flute world for his widely performed Flute Concerto, written for Alexa Still in 1993. Polish Dances was composed in 2010 specifically for this CD. The work is based on three Polish dance pieces: Chlopaki, Chlopaki, a folk song performed by the National Song and Dance Ensemble "Slask"; Mazurka in A minor, Op. 68, No. 2 (posthumous) by Chopin; and Polka Szabasowka, not originally from Poland but adopted by Polish folk performers. This version is based on the piece as performed on accordion by Miroslaw Marks.
The Melbourne Cup by Michal Rosiak, for piccolo and snare drum, was originally written for flute solo by the composer. This young Polish composer, who now resides in Australia, is himself a flautist. The work, the third study from "Six Concert Studies" is dedicated to Professor Elizabeth Koch, the head of the woodwind studies and performance at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and for 27 years flautist of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. This study is a show piece for both of the performers. There is no fixed tonality; however, there are plenty of surprising harmonic changes. The extreme dynamics as well as virtuostic passages and breakneck speed challenge the performers. This arrangement for piccolo and snare drum is by Adrianna Lis and Vadem Simongauz.
What a delightful, entertaining and meaningful collection of compositions for flute as played by the very specially talented Adrianna Lis and her accompanist Sarah Watkins. Lis offers a magnificent and solid performance both on the concert stages and in the recording studio.
Adrianna Lis, Polish born flautist, currently living in New Zealand, is principal flautist of the Auckland Chamber Orchestra. She began her musical training in her native Poland with Anna Kolarz and Barbara Mazurkiewicz and continued studies at the Wroclaw Academy of Music with the renowned professor Jezry Mrozik. Post-graduate studies were with the flautist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, James Walker at the University of Southern California (USC). During 1995, she also studied intensive solo and orchestral studies with Jean Claude Gerard at the Staatliche Hochschule fur Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart in 1995.A year later during 1996, she was selected to be a member of the Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra performing in many prestigious venues in Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands.
She has received numerous awards, honors, and prizes internationally in solo and chamber competitions in such destinations as Wroclaw, Szczecinek, Olsztyn, Enschede, Los Angeles, Carmel and Chicago. Her honors include the Jan Adolf Gorecki Scholarship, Leni Febland Scholarship, Fryderyk Chopin Scholarship, Titl Najera Mason Memorial Endowment Music Scholarship, and Paul Owen McLarand Memorial Endowed Music Scholarship.
Ms. Lis has appeared in solo recitals and performed in chamber groups for various musical and cultural organizations worldwide including in Poland, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, England, Slovakia, Austria, New Zealand and Malaysia.
She has perfected her skills at numerous master classes given by such outstanding artists such as Eugenia Zukerman, William Bennett, Emmanuel Pahud, Peter-Lukas Graf, Barbara Gisler-Haase and Mirjam Nastasi.
Adrianna Lis has collaborated as orchestra musician and solist with numerous symphonic ensembles including the Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra "Leopoldium", Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra, Junge Internationale Orchestra Akademie, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Idyllwild Arts Summer Festival Orchestra, Aberdeen Festival Orchestra, American Youth Symphony, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonia, Auckland Chamber Orchestra and Bach Musica NZ.
We all wish her well on her successful debut CD and hope another one is available real soon for our listening pleasure.
Gary Fitelberg is a musicologist, music critic and historian specializing in Polish music