Marzena Diakun graduated from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław. She earned her Master's at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna and her Doctorate at the Academy of Music in Kraków. Diakun was awarded the highest distinction for conductors from the Polish Ministry of Culture in 2005 and received second prize at the 59th Prague Spring Competition for Conductors in the Czech Republic. She was a finalist in the 4th International Lutosławski Conducting Competition in Poland in 2006 and a semifinalist in both the Quadaques Conductors Competition in Barcelona and Donatella Flick Competition in London in 2008. Additionally, Diakun won first prize at the Fitelberg Competition in Katowice in 2011 and was awarded second prize in 2012. She currently serves as a tenured lecturer at the Karol Lipinski Academy of Music.
Hélène Tysman, born in Paris, studied piano the Coservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse under Bruno Rigutto before continuing her studies in Vienna, Cologne and Hamburg. She currently attends the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt, in Weimar, under Grigori Gruzman. Ms Tysman was awarded first prize at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Darmstadt, in 2006, and won the First European Piano Competition “Halina Czerny-Stefańska in Memoriam” in Poznań, in 2008. She was praised for her distinction at the 16th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. Her Chopin interpretations led to the release of two recordings on Oehms-Classics in 2010 and 2013 in addition to her release of Schumann chamber music with the soloists of Orchestre de Paris in 2012. Tysman has been featured on the international arts television station Mezzo and is regularly invited on French national radio.
Einojuhani Rautavaara, born in Helsinki, began his extensive education at Helsinki University. He later studied at the Sibelius Academy with Aarre Merikanto and after receiving a Koussevitzky Foundation fellowship, he went to the Juilliard School in New York to study with Persichetti and attended Tanglewood working with Aaron Copland and Roger Sessions. He then continued further in Ascona with Wladimir Vogel and with Rudolf Petzold in Cologne. Mr Rautavaara served as a lecturer at the Sibelius Academy from 1966 to 1971 and was appointed to the state position of professor of arts in 1971. His early compositions are based in the Nordic classicism of Sibelius and Nielsen, with influences of Bartók and Shostakovich, as well as folk music. He later widened his stylistic range significantly during the 1960s.
Composed in 1978, Angels and Visitations is the first work in Rautavaara’s Angel Series, which originated from reading Rainer Maria Rilke, "should one suddenly press me to his heart, I would perish by his more powerful presence…" and reportedly from revelations experienced through dreams in childhood. Rautavaara has composed a number of works which heavily feature angels that deal with death and destruction. The composer himself says, “My angels are not those like in the altarpieces of Raphael . . . my angels are powerful, masculine, and fierce.” Although the workno programme should be read into the piece. The composer has likened it, instead, to continuous variations on the theme of contrast or polarity and on the differences concealed in all things.
Maurice Ravel originally composed his Piano Concerto in G major as a concerto for his own use. However, when the work was finished, Marguerite Long gave the first performance in January 1932, with Ravel conducting, rather than at the piano. Ravel had intended to write an easier concerto for his public performances but later decided to compose a concerto of fitting difficulty and resolved himself to acquire the technique. Alas, after hours of practice devoted to the etudes of Czerny and Chopin, he did not possess the digital skills or agility to perform the piece as he had written it.
Basque and Spanish melodies, jazz riffs, the influences of Mozart and Saint-Saëns can be heard throughout the G major Concerto. Fellow Basque, Gustave Samazeuilh, had spent a holiday with Ravel in the Basque land in 1911 and Samazeuilh later recalled that Ravel had sketched a “Basque Concerto” for piano and orchestra. Ravel’s Basque heritage and lifelong dedication to Spanish culture come through in the lively themes of the work. Additionally, his preoccupation with the percussive potential of the piano and his melodies show a talent for giving a sophisticated edge to jazz language.
César Franck’s father moved his family from Belgium to Paris so that his son could enter the Paris Conservatoire to become a virtuoso pianist. Unfortunately, for his ambitious father, Franck preferred a quiet life of teaching, serving as an organist, and composing music. As one of the greatest church organists of his time, he held the post of organist at Sainte-Clothilde in Paris. He was subsequently appointed as a professor at the Paris Conservatoire. Despite these successes, Franck received little acclaim for his compositions until the last four years of his life. His Symphony in D minor was written only two years before his death and is the last of his orchestral compositions. Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and to some degree Wagner were Franck’s musical heroes and the unresolved three-note motif that opens his Symphony in D minor is derived directly from three of the four. The finale to Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 begins with a similar three-note motif, Liszt used it as a central musical figure in his Les Preludes, and Wagner employs it throughout his Ring cycle. However, Franck, by contrast, created a formal symphony from it with rich emotion, Romantic chromatic harmonies, and a clever structural form. At the time of the premiere, Charles Gounod claimed that Franck’s Symphony showed “incompetence driven to dogmatic lengths,” however, within a year of Franck’s death, the piece began winning admirers and continues to be attractive to audiences who adore its intelligent writing and sincere enthusiasm.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator