Silver and Wine
By Matanya Ophee
I promised to write these impressions of the Kutná Hora and Mikulov festivals shortly after the events took place last July. Good intentions are a noble sentiment, but when the force of life takes one by the throat, promises are soon set aside. Excuses? I got plenty. The GFA festival in San Antonio in October, had to prepare my lecture for Cuernavaca for November, so many new editions to put out, and the list goes on. So this is an apology for my friends Jaroslav Kormunda and Martin Myslivecek for having let them down.
I trust that this review, appearing well before the inauguration of the next editions of these fine festivals in the Czech Republic, will have given credit for the work they have done. And then, there would be those, I suspect, who would have preferred that I kept my mouth shut . . .
Silver—The Kutná Hora Festival and Competition, July 2-7, 2000.
Kutná Hora is a small picturesque medieval town some 60 kilometers east of Prague, full of ancient monumental buildings with a wide range of styles. It was the center of silver mining in 14th and 15th centuries and became the cultural and political center of Bohemia, and the seat of the official mint of Czechoslovakia.
I have been attending guitar festivals for well over 40 years now, beginning with that magical event organized on the beach in Tel Aviv in 1956 by Joe the Turk (I am not making this up, there was such a character) and dedicated to a mysterious constituency of “students and tourists,” something Joe must have made up on the spur of the moment. First time I played the guitar in public. Anyway, I have seen them all, the good and the bad, but I have never seen a guitar festival inaugurated with a full display of fireworks.
I had for a moment a fleeting suspicion that perhaps this display was given in my honor. Actually, it was to celebrate the 10th edition of the Kutná Hora festival, a bi-annual event.
The day’s proceedings actually started much earlier, at 6 PM. The opening ceremony, a characteristic event in guitar festivals in Eastern Europe, had the obligatory speech by Kvetoslav Hlavatý, the Mayor of Kutná Hora, opening remarks by Jaroslav Kormunda, the Artistic Director of the festival, some poetic greetings pronounced with theatrical flair by Zuzana Trnková-Hlavatá, probably the Mayor’s wife to judge by the hyphenated surname, and finally a carefully orchestrated “impromptu” mini-recital by the winner of the 1998 Kutná Hora competition, young Antal Pusztai from Budapest.
Having dispensed with this required ritual, we proceeded up the street to the St. Jan Nepomucen church, an ornate 16th century edifice, rebuilt many times, where we heard the first concert of the festival. On the program:
María Isabel Siewers and the Stamic Quartet.
The program opened with a solo piece, a Giuliani Rossiniane. Right off the bat I knew I was in trouble. As most old churches are prone to, this one had a very pronounced echo, at least 4-5 seconds long. On top of that, the performance was amplified by some idiot technician who must have thought this was a discotheque. Isabelita is one of my closest personal friends, and I’ll be damned if I’ll say one discouraging word about her playing. Let us just say that I am sure she played very well, though I could not prove it by the sound that permeated the St. Jan Nepomucen that evening. Next on the program: Máximo Diego Pujol’s Tangata de Agosto for guitar and string quartet. Having published Máximo’s Tango, Milonga y Final, a work that contains similar titles (Tango de Avril, Milonga de Junio), I was already familiar with the genre. It was still difficult to listen to, though. After intermission, María Isabel played two pieces by Piazzolla (Soledad and Nightclub 1960) with the second violin of the Stamic Quartet, Mr. Josef Kekula. Again, I am sure they did very well, but I can’t tell you much about it. I was sitting there with my ears plugged . . .
The program ended with a new concerto by Czech composer Silvie Bodorová, in a guitar and string quartet setting. Either my ears got accustomed to the sound, or they must have turned down the volume a bit. I heard this one, still quite loud, but clear. It is called Concierto de Estío, A Summer Concerto. While Pujol takes his pieces one month at a time, Bodorová paints a broader picture, a whole season at once. The work, like the solo guitar piece called Sostar Mange which Bodorová wrote for Siewers, is based on gypsy themes, gypsy rhythms, Romani language articulations, and the sensuality and abandon of a camp fire setting in the Puszta. I could be wrong, a trick of the bad lighting in the church, but it seemed to me that some in the audience were not only tapping their feet with the music, but were also raising their shoulders rhythmically as gypsy girls are bent on doing, with a wink and a smile. This was a most enjoyable performance. Lest you get the impression from what I have just said that this is easy listening, let me hasten to disabuse you of the notion. This is a serious concerto by a most gifted composer whose cultural roots must extend not only backwards in time to Brahms and Dvorak, but also across the Danube river to Bartok and Enescu. Silvie Bodorová is a woman to watch out for. The Concierto de Estío is one concerto to hear again and again, at least for this inveterate sucker for gypsy culture. And sure enough, within a week, I was to hear the entire program again, in a much more comfortable setting, at the Mikulov Festival.
There was a reception after, given by the Mayor in a building called the Italian Court. Lots of beer, (and didn’t I tell you that Czech beer is the only beer, all the rest are just faint imitations?) Tables laden with food galore, conversations and laughter and finally, the fireworks display. The Fourth of July was still two days ahead.
This one was a bit different for me. I was accustomed to sitting in juries where there would be a relatively small group of competitors, some 30-40 to start the First Round. They will all play one or two set pieces, and a short program of their own. The number would be whittled to about 12-15 for the Second Round and 4 for the Final Round.
The same basic structure was also apparent in Kutná Hora, except that this was not one competition, but actually three parallel ones, each dedicated to a given age group. Category I was to include young persons up to 15 years of age. Category II was for teenagers up to 19 years and Category III for those older, 28 years of age being the top. I was told that this structure was required by the Czech Government and that it parallels their system of education. Far be it for me to pass judgment on the educational systems in other countries. The fact remain though that the way this was run, we had to listen to the three separate First Rounds in two days—a total of 109 competitors. Not an easy task, to say the least.
Members of the jury were John W. Duarte, president of the Jury, Danielle Ribouillault, the editor of Les Cahiers de la Guitare, Peter Päffgen, editor of Gitarre & Laute, Leo Witoszynskyj, María Isabel Siewers, Zoran Dukic, Petr Saidl, Carlo Marchione, Antal Pusztai and myself. (I am indebted to Jack Duarte for jogging my memory of these organizational details. I kept my notes, but somehow forgot to jot down the nitty-gritty!)
Some of us stood up under the pressure better than others, but I can assure you that personally, I found the entire proceedings extremely taxing. One hopes one’s judgment is not impaired by fatigue and must devise protective measures or else go bananas. Mine was simple: I’d listen very attentively to each individual competitor, for the first minute. If by the end of that one minute the competitor was not able to catch my attention, or otherwise s/he offended my senses with silly aural and visual displays, I’d switch my mind off. But if I heard good music making and saw good stage manners, I’d give the kid my full undivided attention. It was then possible to determine that some of the kids in Category I could play circles around the older kids in category II and even around some of the adults in Category III. Go figure.
The young winners of the Category I & II, are yet to make their way up the ladder. Some were pretty good, but no one exhibited the degree of wunderkindheit of a true child prodigy. On the international stage, we are bound to hear from the winners of Category III quite soon. They were:
- First Prize—Martin Krajco from the Slovak Republic
- Second Prize—Tanja Schildt from Finland
- Third Prize—Alen Garagic from Bosnia
- Fourth prize—Stefan Schmitz from Germany.
Sonja Vimrová from Prague and Oksana Shelyazhenko from the Ukraine were also finalists. Now for the concerts:
July 3—The Bratislava Guitar Quartet.
This is a group of young musicians from the capital of the Slovak republic. They have been together for a few years now and even produced a CD. The ensemble seems to be directed by Martin Krajco (Pronounced = CRY-tso) who was also a competitor and the winner of the First Prize. Another member of the Quartet is Radka Kubrová, a fine young woman who also acted as the Secretary of Jury and chief translator in our deliberations. I missed the names of the other two members. Their rendition of Brouwer’s Paisaje cubana con rumba opened the program and showed them to be in a very tight ensemble, always a pleasure to hear. Krajco’s arrangement of Rossini’s overtures to the l’Italiana in Algeri was played in full orchestral tempo, not in the stolid tempi one hears in other guitaristic arrangements of Rossini overtures. Indeed a virtuosic performance. The arrangement itself showed Krajco to be a master orchestrator for his ensemble, though one might have wished for more color contrast and perhaps a more transparent texture. Unfortunately, a correct tempo is not enough. One of the most important aspects of Rossini overtures is the dynamic contrast with delicate pianissimos which build up in long crescendi into roaring fortissimos. The Bartaislava Quartet played the entire overture at about the same mf>f level. Coming to think of it, this is the way most guitar ensembles play Rossini. So it goes.
Ravel’s Pavane pour une Infant Défunt was less successful. It is difficult to hear this, in whatever arrangement, after having heard Roland Dyens play his arrangement of the Pavane. But then, as the publisher of the Dyens arrangement, I am obviously biased. It appeared to me that their tight ensemble fell into an annoying ping-pong effect and lacked the emotional intensity of Dyens’. What followed was a suite of pieces by Igor Stravinsky. An Andante, a Napolitana, a Valse and a Danse Russe. The source was not specified and it is difficult to judge the arrangement. Only the last piece, the Danse Russe, carried the charm of a typical Russian Khorovod. They closed with Roland Dyens’ Coté Sud which turned out a lot better than the arrangements they played. Last on the program: a Krajco arrangement of Piazzolla’s La Muerte del Angel. Again, Krajco’s textures were a bit too thick for my taste and the airiness of the tango genre was lost. At least, they well understand the compás of the tango.
This was the second part of the same evening. Carlo Marchione is a young Italian guitarist living in Berlin. I already heard him before in Tychy and I knew what to expect. I was not disappointed. Carlo has made a special study of the music of Teleman and he opened his program with a Fantaisie in B Major, Adagio-Presto, Grave-Vivace, source not specified. This was a very intense playing, intense concentration, projecting the music right into the audience. His Presto was a pure roller-coaster delight in its incredible speed. Clean and just plain marvelous. A most enjoyable opening. And who says that one must be a compliant follower of J.S. Bach at the exclusion of all others? There is more to Teleman that meets the customary guitaristic eye, and Carlo was there to prove it. His Rondo Brillant Op. 2 No. 1 by Dionisio Aguado gave us an Adagio full of lyrical outpouring, yet beautifully controlled and phrased. And the Polonaise came off as a Chopin dressed in Spanish garb, masculine, forthright and utterly spell binding. The stuff of a true Virtuoso. There was a short intermission, after which we heard a piece by one Simon Iannarelli, a name I have not encountered before. Apparently, an Italian composer living in France. This was his Trois Preludes Op. 7, individually titled Moderato, Andante onirico, Doloroso e lontano and Presto, senza trequa. Neo-romantic music, entirely inoffensive and perhaps not quite memorable. The Presto, like before, was indeed virtuosic, but sounded, too close for comfort, like a Dyens Fuoco with another pallette of colors. He closed with two pieces by Domeniconi; The Variations on an Anatolian folk song, and the Toccata in Blue. The audience was in thralls and demanded an encore. He provided the Piazzolla Angel, dedicating the performance to the recent birth of his daughter, and that of Zoran Dukic, who was in audience. Delightful. You think this it? Not yet. A second encore was Giuliani’s third Rossiniane, given in authentic operatic bravado and the third encore was Sueño en la Floresta by Barrios. Very well done, and we all repaired to the hotel’s bar for the obligato consumption of Czech beer. Lots of it.
July 4. I missed the concert the next evening. We were listening to the competitors well into the wee hours of the night, and could not get to hear Leo Witoszynskyj and Petr Saidl. Too bad.
July 5—Zoran Dukic.
We did not miss this one, one of the major events at the festival. Zoran Dukic is a big man with a big sound and dontcha ever forget it! He makes sure you won’t. Very macho. His Bach BWV 1001 was very well done. Excellent phrasing. Obviously the man knows his Bach. His dynamic range was a bit disappointing, the usual span between mezzo-forte and forte. Sort of a harpsichord with the tone colors of a Busoni piano, thick and heavy. His Sicilianacould have a used a bit more lyricism for my taste and the Presto was too aggressive. But on the whole, the Sonatadid hang very well together. One man’s personal approach, not encumbered by current ritualistic scholarly mumbo-jumbo.
I said this before in other contexts, and I’ll say it again. I have never heard a Catalan guitarist playing variations on a Croatian folk song. Here I am listening to a Croatian guitarist playing 5 Llobet arrangements of Catalan folk songs. Again. Zoran played this music well, or should I say, not any worse than the myriad other performances of the same shtik by so many. There are far more rewarding works by Llobet that need exposure, and frankly, I can do without the folk song arrangements for a while. Next on the program 5 pieces from Venezuela by Vicente Sojo. I have never heard a Venezuelan guitarist, etc., etc.
The second half of the concert opened with the Thème Varié et Finale of Manuel Ponce. Not the usual Schott edition prepared by Segovia. That’s too easy, and I do not mean to imply that it is too easy technically. I used to play this one in my playing days, and of course I had, back then some 35 years ago, strong suspicions that Segovia’s editorial work here was not all that good. I could think of much better renditions of some of the chord changes, especially in the Finale. I made my “corrections” and played them and did not care one bit if Ponce himself would have approved of them. Zoran played what is purported to be the original Ponce manuscript, before it was mucked about by segovia. According to Miguel Alcázar’s recent edition of all the original Ponce manuscripts (Alcázar, Miguel, Obra Completa para guitarra de Manuel M. Ponce De acuerdo a los manuscritos originales, Conaculta/Ediciones Étoile, Mexico City, 2000, ISBN 970-18-5244-3 and 968-7755-10-5, p. 47) the Ponce archives contain two separate manuscripts of the work. One, in pencil, in the hand of Ponce himself, and another, in ink, in the hand of Segovia. The latter corresponds more or less to the version published by Segovia and recorded by him, and the original is radically different. The order of the variations is different, and there are more of them here than in the Segovia version. It is a clandestine copy of that one that made its way into the international grape-vine, well before it was published by Alcázar, and the version played by Dukic.
My impression of the performance, fortified by a close examination of the Alcázar edition, leads me to believe that after all is said and done, Andrés Segovia was an excellent editor. I may be unjustly biased because of my own long acquaintance with his version, but it seems to me that the Ponce original was in fact an incomplete and raw sketch which needed the intervention of a competent editor, and that state of affairs is still with us. Suffice it to point out the tremolo variation that seems to begin out of nowhere and quickly disappear. We are so overwhelmed by the aesthetics of scholarship that demand removing the accretion of editorial addenda in order to reach the true intentions of the composer, that we forget to check a very simple matter: did the composer approve of the published version or did he maintain that his original version represented the sum total of his ideas of his work and rejected, publicly or privately, the version published by his editor?
I do not believe we have today one single shred of evidence either way. For all we know, Ponce may have totally and uncompromisingly agree with Segovia and fully and unconditionally approved of the latter’s version as the one representing his thoughts on this matter. The mere fact that a manuscript of Segovia’s version survived in Ponce’s archives, would suggest that this may have been the case.
As a publisher, I work with composers all the time. They change their mind constantly, particularly after receiving the first proofs of the engraving I prepared. I also had the unfortunate cases of composers completely re-writing their music, once they have seen it engraved. I wish they didn’t, because last minute major alterations are a pain in the pocket and drastically raise the costs of production. But it happens all the time. So which version of a composer’s work should we take as representing his intentions? The first, or the last?
Igor Stravinsky had written some ten different versions of the score to his ballet Les Noces, including several hundred sketches for the work, all preserved at the Paul Sacher Foundation Archives in Basel. All of this is very interesting in studying the compositional process, but there is no question that the final printed version is the one which represents the composer’s intentions. Unless we can show that Ponce disagreed with Segovia’s version and disowned it, any renditions of the raw manuscript without any alterations are, at best, a silly attempt to engage in musical archeology. If one wants to second guess both the composer and his editor, I would welcome a new, edited version of this work, re-composed in sections if need be. It will have to stand on its own merits and we shall judge it as best we can. The manuscript version does not belong on the concert stage, no matter how well it was played.
The Malcolm Arnold Fantasy has been around since 1971, but it felt like it was for me a first hearing. I must have heard it on this or that Bream recording or even in one of his concerts, but, to put it mildly, it did not ring a bell. I must congratulate Dukic for having chosen it, though I can’t imagine what was the logic of including this eclectic dodecaphonic suite with the rest of the program that evening. It was an interesting piece, but I doubt very much I shall actively seek another hearing of it. The program closed with Dušan Bogdanovic’s 6 Balkan Miniatures. Here, finally, I got to hear an honest, from the heart, commitment of a performer to the music of his roots. It was an emotional performance, unhindered by whatever practical considerations of programming the artist may have been constrained to accept. I shall go out of my way, as far as need be, to hear Zoran Dukic play this music again. The encore piece was a lovely rendition of Ponce’s Estrellita, here en revanche, dedicated by the artist to the recent birth of his own daughter and that of Carlo Marchione. Lovely. And then we all repaired to the hotel’s bar for the obligato consumption of Czech beer. Lots of it. (I said it before, you say? I’ll probably say it again. Love that stuff!)
July 6—Alexander Swete.
By the time we finished listening to the competitors, it was too late to hear Alexander. That was really too bad, because I have heard him before, and his rendition of Giuliani’s Rossiniane is the best I have heard from any one. Italian opera with the full impact of Viennese Biedermeier aesthetics. Sorry about missing it. We also missed a performance of a piece by one Richard Dünser called Quatre Tombeaux dating from 1994. I am always interested in hearing new and unfamiliar music.
July 7—Aniello Desiderio.
Last day. The competition ended at noon, and by 3 o’oclock we had the closing ceremony with the usual speeches, here given again by the Mayor, and also by the President of the Jury John W. Duarte. The closing concert that evening, labeled as a Gala Concert, was given by the young Neapolitan guitarist Aniello Desiderio. I have heard Aniello many times before, and this one was not one of his better performances. Something was the matter, but I never found out what really bothered him. He opened with three Scarlatti sonatas (L238/K.208, L387/K.14 and L.366/K.1). Pretty competent but I would have liked to hear the middle sonata at a more lively tempo. There may have been some justification to organize the set as a fast-slow-fast whole, but it did not work well. Not for me, anyway. His rendition of the Paganini Grande Sonata in A Major, here labeled, God only knows why, as op. 3 #1 (there is no such opus number assignment in the Paganini list of works), was delivered with panache and grace, but I still missed the violin accompaniment. Rodrigo’s Un Tiempo Fue Italica Famosa, the composer’s last work for guitar, was given with all the virtuosic pomposity the work is usually given these days. Personally, I much prefer to listen to the Segovia scales.
Desiderio’s performance of Joaquín Turina’s Sonata Op. 61, was not as gratifying as the performance of the same work we heard earlier in the day from Martin Krajco during the competition, and for which, at least from this juror, he received the First Prize. It is one of the risks one takes when agreeing to play a concert during a festival which includes a competition. We heard this one work played many times during this week, by several competitors, mostly pretty awful. But when one gets to hear an artist of the caliber of Krajco, delivering an impeccable rendition, it is difficult to accept the same work in the hand of a featured performer, if not absolutely perfect. This one wasn’t. The concert closed with a Tarantas by Paco de Lucia for which the artist got a gracious response from the audience. The encore piece was the best in the entire evening. A transcription of a Satie Gnossienne. And you already know where we went after the concert . . .
The Kutná Hora competition is a bi-annual event, so the next one will take place in 2002. The address of the festival is:
Mestské Tydlovo divaldo—sekretariat souteze “Kytara KH”
Kutná Hora 284 01
Phone & Fax: 42-327-76-11-76
Web site at: http://www.guitar.kutnahora.cz/
Currently, the web site still displays the information for last year’s event. I presume it will be updated in time for the one to take place next year. The Kutná Hora Festival and Competition is supported by the Czech Ministry of Culture, the Czech ministry of Education, The Austrian Culture Institute in Prague, the French and Italian Embassies in Prague and several commercial firms.
Wine—The Mikulov Festival, July 8-15, 2000.
Mikulov is a small mountain town almost a stone-throw away from the southern border with Austria, about an hour’s drive from Vienna. It is situated in the center of the Moravian wine district, and the local wines put up a strong competition to the local beers. The Mikulov Festival 2000 was the 14th edition of this event and from its beginning, artistically directed by Martin Myslivecek, with the close cooperation of Stanislav Jurica and Olga Dvorská. This was my second visit to Mikulov and a special one too, as the event was (almost but not quite) entirely dedicated to women performers, celebrated in memory of Luise Walker. Gratefully, there was no competition in sight, but simply master-classes, lectures, instrument and sheet music vendors and displays, and of course the concerts. We were all housed at the Horny Crocodile Hotel on Husova Street. The name of the hotel is not what you think. They have a mascot crock posted in the main dining room, one which sports a pair of horns. The entire area was the site of a very large Jewish ghetto which was demolished during WWII. The old Jewish Synagogue is across the street from the hotel, still used today as a synagogue, and the hotel itself is built on top of the old Mikveh, the Jewish ritual bath building.
Of course, the ceremonial events so common in countries of the old Soviet block, were still in evidence, but as in Kutná Hora they were staged pompously as separate events, here they were simply incorporated into the opening and closing concerts. The concerts took place in the Mikulov Castle, an imposing 16th century edifice. The building has a large exhibition space, with a green-room attached, but no stage. One could be installed and removed but there is one distraction in that room which would render serious music performances next to impossible. The ceiling of the room is decorated with Soviet era Social Realism frescoes, featuring some of the worst examples of kitch I have ever had the misfortune to observe. Here is one example:
I cannot imagine sitting under that ceiling for any length of time without bursting out laughing. Wisely, the concerts are staged in the lower level foyer, a very large room in itself, with the wide staircase leading to the exhibition room used as the stage. With the green-room being situated at the top of the stairs, artists had to descend to their appointed chair, and then ascend back to the green room at the end of their performance. The way various artists negotiated this intricate maneuver was the source of much entertainment in and of itself. More on that below.
July 8— at 8:20 in the evening. The Amadeus Guitar Duo, Dale Kavanagh and Thomas Kirschoff.
The opening concert, opened of course with the obligatory speeches. I’ll skip that part. Dale and Thomas are the organizers of the famous Iserlohn festival in Germany, details of which are elsewhere in this section of G.A.L.I. I have heard Dale before as a soloist, and I owe Thomas a special consideration for being the first guitarist to record my arrangement of the Prelude, Fugue & Variation Op. 18 by César Franck back when he was involved with another duo partner in what was known then as the Albéniz duo. He is also an expert aficionado of fine cigars and a good friend to have around when one is in urgent need of a Cohiba . . .
But this was the first time I heard the duo live. They opened with Rodrigo’s Concierto Madrigal, here in a transcription they made for two guitars, without an orchestra, a version which was authorized by the composer. Right from the start, it was obvious that Dale was the soloist and Thomas was the orchestra. Most of the time, anyway, since the parts did seem to interchange quite often. Their mode of playing was a bit unusual. They had the music in front of them and kept on turning pages at all the right places, but seemed to have performed mainly from memory, closely looking at their left hand, as most guitarists do. For me, that would be a formula for instant disaster. I think performers should do one or the other: perform strictly from memory, as the Assad brothers always do no matter how complex a score, or sight read the score as many duos usually practice. I do not think there should be any stigma attached to sight reading in concert. Musicians do it all the time and there is no reason guitarists, even in solo performance, should not do it. But sight reading is a skill which requires that one pays close attention to the printed page, without diverting attention by looking at the left hand. Doing both at the same time, it would be only a matter of time before the SHTF. Eventually it did.
The performance of the Rodrigo was lively and exciting as any typical españolada. The Fanfare opening the gates of the bull ring, the sensual Fandango with all the inviting undulations of the dancer’s haunches, a tuneful Ariettafollowed by a very macho Zapateado etc. The Amadeus got good milage out of this work and the audience rewarded them handsomely. Next on the program was Ulrich Stracke’s transcription of the Busoni transcription of the Bach Chaconne in d minor. I made myself such a transcription almost 30 years ago, but quickly discarded it when I realized I could not keep, even in a duo situation, all the voices in the correct register. I was curious to see how Mr. Stracke succeeded where I failed. He didn’t.
That the final result is not Bach is a given. Busoni did not intend it to be. But I am afraid it was also not quite Busoni either. The whole point of Busoni’s arrangement was not to recreate the work on the piano as a straight transcription, but as a paraphrase on the Bach original, with all the freedom of articulations and bravado virtuoso displays a single pianist is capable of. Someone like Jan Paderewski, besides Busoni himself, would have been a perfect vehicle for the Belle Epoque Gemütlichkeit of the genre. It would be an extreme measure of interpretive manipulation in the guitar duo format to achieve the required freedom of expression to render Busoni’s arrangement as it was meant to be. I suppose it would be possible to do, but guitarists who are much too overwhelmed with the Bach aspect of the piece are at a decided disadvantage. I think I was right to discard the idea when I did.
I did not know what to make of Christian Jost’s Times III after Jeremiah Johnson, dedicated to the duo. I may be wrong, but on first impressions it sounded like a formless private joke in a neo-romantic mode. A second hearing at the Cuernavaca Festival in November did not improve my impression. I must be missing something here. What?
After intermission the duo played Hubert Käppel’s arrangement of the Bach Italian Concerto BWV 971. Here, indeed, the Bachian approach did work much better than in the Busoni Chaconne. Good music, well transcribed, well played. The Variazioni Concertanti op. 130 by Mauro Giuliani followed. Spirited ensemble playing only marred occasionally by distractions caused, I suspect, by one of players switching from playing from memory to reading the page, and missing the right place. The SHTF phenomenon I dreaded all evening was finally here. What came next, the last piece on the program, was a piece by Jaime Zenamon called Casablanca, with probably some distant allusions to the Bogart-Bergman film. Here it was the opposite. It was a case of the fan hitting the you-know-what. The piece, also dedicated to the duo, was subtitled A story, a place and kiss. Towards the end, both players pulled out tiny battery-operated electric fans, with pieces of thread replacing the fan blades. By applying the moving fans to the strings, they were able to generate a spooky continuous high pitched sound, as if the strings were agitated by a bow. Most original and captivating by its sheer chutspah. Loved it. As for the actual music: well, I did say already what was hitting what. The encore piece was a duo arrangement of the music from the film Schindler’s List.It was a good thing they did not announce the title of the encore. I enjoyed it as music and their performance of it was just fine. You see, I have a problem with art work, of any kind, related to the Holocaust. Never saw the film, never visited Auschwitz even though I spent a considerable amount of time in Tychy, only three miles down the road from there. My personal baggage. The audience loved it though, and made the duo come out for a bow, several times actually, making them climb the stairs up and down each time. Very elegantly done.
July 9—at 17.17 (5:17 in the afternoon!)
There was a concert by the winner of Kutná Hora 2000, Martin Krajco. I should have gone to hear it, but having just heard him a few days before, decided to skip it. You must learn to pace yourself in these festivals or else, you get guitired out . . .
Same day at 20.20— María Isabel Siewers and the Stamic Quartet.
This time, much better acoustics than those existing in the St. Jan Nepomucen church in Kutná Hora, and thank the authorities for small favors, no amplification. The ensemble elected to place themselves at the top of the stairs, not at the bottom as was expected, with the results that we were looking up at the players. A strange orientation, given that normally, the audience has to look down in regular theaters. But once you got over the unconventional angle, it was possible to concentrate on the sound. This was indeed a performance to remember. The program was arranged a bit differently than in Kutná Hora, opening with the Piazzolla for violin and guitar, and continuing with Máximo Diego Pujol’s Tangata de Agosto. After intermission, the soloist came downstairs to play the Britten Nocturnal. Very serious demeanor, almost ascetic in its concentration, even as she negotiated the staircase up and down. Perhaps this was not the most virtuosic rendition of the work I have heard, but it was technically faultless and very satisfying musically. The concert closed with Sylvie Bodorová’s Concierto de Estío. This was a real treat, particularly when heard under more fitting acoustical conditions. The first movement, a Zingaresca, was reminiscent of klezmer music, though I am not sure if this was the allusion the composer wished to make. More likely, the Hungarian Czardas was used here. The real gypsy content came in the middle movement, a Plegaria. The music of that movement was just published, in a guitar solo version, in the current issue of Les Cahiers de la Guitare. (2001, 2ème trimestre). Take a look if you get a chance. Highly recommended!
July 10 at 17.17—Tomonori Arai.
I have heard young Mr. Arai several times as a competitor in the Tychy Competition where he finally got a third prize in 1994. Here he was featured as a full solo concert, though in the subordinate afternoon slot. His dynamic range throughout the entire concert was mp > mf. Par for the course, and not much different than most players today. The concert program was not printed out, and I find it difficult to read my hastily scribbled notes. Forgive me please Tomonori-san if I got anything here wrong. He opened with some plodding takemitsuism, probably the Folios,though I wouldn’t swear to it. His Usher Valse was very good, as non-Koshkin performances of the piece go. He followed that with Bogdanovic’s 6 Balkan Miniatures, which I just heard a couple of days before by Zoran Dukic. It took me a while to recognize the piece, as obviously, Arai was playing all the right notes, but lacking the internal fire burning in Dukic with this music. It had a certain mechanical quality to it, which reminded me that I did hear Croatian and Serbian guitarists play variations on a Japanese folk song . . . He closed with the Ginastera Sonata op. 47, which to my jaded ears sounded like a major virtuoso scratch-grind-and-bump piece of inconsequence. Never liked that piece and Tomonori Arai did not make me love it any better. The encores were Piazzolla’s Verano Porteñoand Dyens’ Saudadaism No. 3.
Same day at 20.20— Luise Walker (1910-1998) in Memoriam.
This was the main event of the festival. There was an exhibition room next to the concert hall where a lot of Walker memorabilia were displayed. Many photographs, concert programs from throughout her career, and even her favorite concert dress. The performers that evening were several of her students and past associates. In the bargain, I got to hear a considerable number of compositions I only vaguely knew about, but never heard performed. The program opened with Walter Würdinger playing the Walker Fantasie by Heinrich Albert and the Rapsodie Op. 97 by Armin Kaufman. I’d need to get my hands on this music to judge it better. Walter is, quite obviously, an old hand at guitar playing, a practicing guitar teacher in Vienna and a past student of Luise Walker. Somehow his guitar produced a booming bass which pretty much covered the rest of the music and like myself, (I am also an old hand at guitar playing) he surely possesses the same kind of fingers as I do, middle age type. They don’t move as well as they used to. Nevertheless, it was a quite capable performance of an interesting contradiction.
Brigitte Zaczek who is Luise Walker’s niece, followed with a Valse favorite Op. 46 by Napoleon Coste, and two transcriptions by Johann Kaspar Mertz, here named after the dubious conclusions of Astrid Stempnik as Kaspar Joseph. The Schubert-Liszt Ständschen and the Strauss Annen-Polka. She performed on a period instrument, a ca. 1830 guitar by Blaise Jules le Jeune. Brigitte is a good friend of mine, in spite of the fact that she got the second prize at the 1964 French Radio Competition, the only contest I ever entered, and where I did not even make it into the second round . . . So it goes. 🙁 Her choice of the Coste was rather unfortunate. It came across as a cute little salon piece, the kind one might hear on the Lawrence Welk show. Charming, and entirely innocuous. The Mertz was a much closer treat for my bleeding heart. I published a facsimile of the Ständschen in Soundboard, off a copy I found in the Concord State Library in New-Hampshire back in 1975. Love that piece and the way Mertz worked the Liszt arrangement into a credible guitar work. The Strauss was lively and expertly played. I strongly advise you to get Brigitte Zaczek’s recent CD where she plays a lot more of this repertoire. Check it out at her web site at http://www.spinnst.at/BZ/news.html where the details are listed and you can even download MP3 files of these same pieces. The CD got several rave reviews in the guitar press already, and your instant musical gratification is hereby guaranteed.
The program continued with Napoleon Coste’s Gran Duo (pour deux Guitares Égales et concertants), performed by Zaczek and Würdinger. A much more substantial work than the previous Valse Favorite and the kind of an orchestral bearing of which Coste was capable at times. Obviously, the artists do not function as an established duo and I doubt they get to work together more then occasionally. Things were moving along at a good pace through the opening Concertino and Andante, but broke down in the Barcarola. She lost it for a moment and he lost her. But the true mark of the professional is not if you made a mistake here and there, but how well you recovered. This was done in perfect tandem and I doubt many in the audience even noticed. The Finale was brilliant.
After intermission we were treated to a curious mix of incompatible relations by the young Greek guitarist Jorgos Panetsos who lives in Vienna and who was also a student of Luise Walker. I have heard Panetsos before in my last visit to the Esztergom festival. I was not all that impressed by him then, and even his CD turned me off, mainly because of the unimaginative choice of rent-a-program Spanish fluff. It is amazing how one enters a concert with a given prejudice against the performer, only to find out that one was so totally wrong, so totally unaware of the true qualities of the artist. He looked the same as the guy I heard in Esztergom, he carried the same name, but he was not the same musician. This one, here in Mikulov in the year 2000, was a mature musician of an imposing stature. He opened with the most unlikely piece, a Preludio II from the cinco preludios staccati by Guido Santorsola, dedicated to Luise Walker. I never heard this one before, but considering the fact that Louise Walker’s own recording, on a 10 inch LP, was the second guitar record I ever heard and in which she recorded Santorsola’s Preludio a la Antigua,Panetsos got my attention right away and kept me there till the very end, mesmerized. The man plays with a remarkable intensity as if carrying on an immutable debate with the guitar, at end of which you still do not know who won the debate, but you do know that you just had a personal brief episode of pure joy. I had. And then came Koyunbaba.
My intense dislike of this piece was expressed in no uncertain terms on many different occasions. The only time I really enjoyed listening to it was when I heard it performed by the composer himself, Carlo Domeniconi, at the 1998 Mikulov Festival. Like the Usher Valse, this is a piece which acquired a certain notoriety while at the same time, failed to penetrate most performers’ consciousness beyond the facile matter of playing all the notes in the right sequence. Domeniconi’s inspiration simply does not come across the printed page and most people play this exactly as they heard their current idol play it. Panetsos did not get this through listening to records, I am sure of that, but through the music itself. Here was a musician who can read music, and read it beyond the black dots on white paper right into the heart and mind of the composer. Koyunbaba in the hands of Jorgos Panetsos comes out as a grand suite of dances, in the best traditions of the genre, where every part of the suite is treated as a separate entity with it own moments of tension and release, fusing the whole into one credible music. Perhaps I will get a chance to hear this once more at the Gitarre Forum in Vienna this coming August, where Jorgos Panetsos is the artistic director. Check it out at http://www.spinnst.at/Gitarre/Forum/
The concert ended with a performance by my old friend Leo Witoszynskyj. I first met Leo at the 1982 Esztergom festival and we maintained an on again off again correspondence for many years. I have not heard from him for several years and it was indeed a real treat to run into him in Kutná Hora and to hear him perform in Mikulov. He played an eclectic choice of pieces from a couple of Llobet folk song arrangements, the Rodrigo Invocación y danza, a charming little miniature by Alfred Uhl and two short etudes by Luise Walker herself.
July 11, 20.20—Raphaëlla Smits.
I have always been fond of Raphaëlla Smits, a woman I have heard in concert and on disc for more years than she is willing to admit . . . Watching her coming down the stairs, all stately and sparkling with an inner glow, I was hoping for a treat of regal excellence, but reading the advertised program, I was not so sure it will materialize. She reached the bottom of the stairs, sat down majestically and began with Sor. For the purpose, she used a guitar by François Rudlof (ca. 1830) which was lent to her for the occasion by Brigitte Zaczek. Now we had the right period instrument for Sor, and it does not matter if Sor himself ever played a guitar by Monsieur Rudlof or even knew of him, and all we needed was a convincing account of the music. We got it, almost but not quite.
The Fantasie Elegiaque Op. 59, written by Sor in memory of a piano student of his, one Charlotte Beslay née Levavaseur (died in child birth on April 20, 1835. The child survived), is full of the Funeral March platitudes Sor was so good at writing and which he executed several times. Nevertheless, it is one of the finest works in our repertoire and surely stands on the same level of many piano pieces of the period. Raphaëlla’s account of the piece, particularly in a festival dedicated to the memory of one of the guitar’s leading patricians—Luise Walker—was a fitting and proper tribute. I am still waiting for a performance of this work in which the performer exclaims, in the right place indicated in the score, that anguished cry of pain Sor wrote in there: Charlotte Adieu! It was important enough for him to write it into the score, it should be important enough for us to respect his wishes. I can accept that the actual identity of the dedicatée could be replaced with another, like for example Luise Adieu! But ignoring it altogether, methinks, is to miss the entire point of the piece. The next Sor was the rampant, ever present Mozart Variations Op. 9, here played without the Introduction. It isn’t a question of completeness for the sake of authenticity, but rather a question of completeness for the sake of musical coherence. In the old days when we did not know the piece had an Introduction, we accepted Segovia’s edition and public performances of this as the Bible. Few of us were familiar with Domingo Prat’s indictment of Segovia’s choice of eliminating the Introduction.Deploramos la falta de seriedad artistica he wrote in this regard in his 1934 Diccionario. We today, also deplore the lack of artistic seriousness when we hear the piece chopped off at the head. That, I am afraid, is a non-starter, no matter how well played.
Raphaëlla Smits has made in recent years a special study of the music of Antonio Jimenez Manjon (1866-1919), a blind Spanish/Argentinian guitarist who played an 11-string guitar. She plays it on a Gilbert 8-string guitar. If one is happy with the schmaltzy salon pieces of Tárrega and Barrios, Manjon comes over as a refreshing swell of pristine triteness. It is only supportable for the simple reason that it is not so well known. Otherwise, it cannot escape the usual kitsch elements of the genre. Good stuff to play “under the window of a beautiful maiden in a quiet summer night, [I am paraphrasing a famous quote here] under a silver moon, when a warm breeze lightly ripples the mirror-like surface of the river, whispering to itself in the rose bushes along the shore . . . but in a concert hall, in the midst of crowds, under a painted ceiling [we were saved from that inauspicious fate in Mikulov. . .], and by the light of stage projectors,” this is ridiculous. The only saving grace to Manjon is that he is not Tárrega or Barrios. What was needed here was to pretend that I was not sitting in a concert hall, but rather under the window of a beautiful maiden in a quiet summer night, my blood vessels overladen with testosterone, adrenalin and other juicy substances. Then, and only then, this was a gratifying and well played performance.
After intermission we were finally treated to the first, and perhaps the only item in this program which made all of this worthwhile—the Turina Sonata. As I mentioned earlier, we have heard quite a few performances of this work during the last two weeks, by both featured performers and competition participants in Kutná Hora. It would seem that for some unexplainable reason Turina is enjoying a mini-revival. That’s a good thing and I only hope this revival becomes maxi and include other works by Turina and his contemporaries that have fallen into disrepute because of their association with Segovia. The Castelnuovo-Tedesco œuvre, the Joan Manen Sonata, the Roussel piece and others. Ponce and Tansman are only a small part of the Segovia legacy. Music and composers deserve an independent appraisal on their own merits, and not because they were, or were not associated with a cult figure. Raphaëlla Smits’ performance of the Turina Sonata was, for me, and particularly after having heard it so many times in recent days, simply spectacular. I doubt very much if the fact that she used the Gilbert 8-string guitar, which gave her a chance to use notes on the 7th and 8th strings thus simplifying many technical aspects of the work, had anything to do with it. This was simply music making at its best. I was happy to be there and hear it.
Three pieces by Manuel de Falla followed: the Chanson de Feu follet, Récit du Pecheur and the Omaggio. I am afraid that even though these pieces were all by the same composer, they do not work together as a group. The last work on the program was titled 3 Pieces for Raphaëlla by Owe Walter. Here is what I jotted down as I was listening: Piece 1: modal dodecaphonism. Scales, arpeggios, chord progressions, rasgueados. Piece 2: same thing but slower with a bit more tonal harmony. Piece 3: Son of Koyunbaba without the funny tuning. Eclectic would be a compliment for this work. Derivative, devoid of any original thought, well-crafted piece of inconsequence would probably be more appropriate here. But I will say this: I need to hear this again in more suitable surroundings, like in the privacy of my own studio. I might change my mind.
The encore piece, presented after another magnificent regal exit and entry up and down the stairs, was an arrangement of Ariel Ramirez’ Alfonsina y el Mar. Mercedes Sosa’s recording of this samba is always close to my CD player. It grabs me by the heart strings and it squeezes, every time I hear it, and I hear it often. It was a very special treat for me. Thank you Raphaëlla!
July 12th, 20.20—Guitar Metamorphosis: Jana Lewitová-vocal, Vladimir Merta-lute, guitar and midi-guitar, Dagmar Andrtová- folk guitar.
This group seems to enjoy a certain local popularity. As much of their material was based on Czech poetry and story telling, it went of course right over my head. It did include some Sephardic and renaissance lute songs with which I am familiar, but the presentation of the singer and the folk guitarist as 60s flower children-mother earth types, and Mr. Merta’s demeanor as a modern-day troubadour, seemed to me as a silly theatrical affectation, completely outside the realm of the classical guitar. I must have missed something important here but the mainly Czech audience seems to have enjoyed the performance.
July 12th, 22.22—Open-air Night concert: Arnoldo Moreno-guitar, Ismail Barrios and Christian Martinek-percussion.
No program was provided and the event was to take place simultaneously with the Metamorphosis one, with a 2 minute interval. But it was raining outside, and it took place inside, after the previous event. By this time it was getting quite late and my need for a good cigar and Budajovice beer overwhelming, I repaired to the hotel bar with a few like-minded connoisseurs. My apologies to the performers.
July 13, 20.20—Margarita Escarpa.
There is no beating about the bush here. I have said it many times before, and I will say it again: this diminutive Spanish woman is one of the giants of our small world. I am a fan and there is no way I can review her performance objectively. I will go out of my way to hear her play, no matter what she chooses to play. Her chosen program this evening was not exactly iconoclastic, but rather a subdued selection of well-known masterpieces of the repertoire. Frank Martin: Quatre Pieces Brèves; Federico Mompou: Suite Compostelana; Francisco Tárrega: Fantasía sobre la Traviata; John Dowland: Farewell and Fantasia; J.S. Bach: Sonata BWV 1003; Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Capriccio Diabolico and Tarantela.
I can wax eternal and rhapsodize forever on this evening’s performance. But I will only say this: for me, a tried and true fan of Escarpa’s, it cannot be any better than that. I resented the audience’s interruption of the performance after the Fugue in the Bach, but there was no way to avoid it. Intense, penetrating, engrossing, fascinating, spectacular, pure joy. There, I ran out of adjectives.
July 14, 20.20—Elena Papandreou.
I first met Elena at the 1985 Gargnano competition. She was a competitor, I was in the jury. I was not supposed to be there, but traveling through the area, I stopped for a visit and Ruggero Chiesa instantly drafted me for jury duty for the final round. It was no contest. Elena Papandreou was clearly the best of the lot, and some Italian kid whose name escapes me at the moment was a close second. Unfortunately, one member of the jury, a woman, was deathly against the idea that the first prize should be given to a woman. A rough verbal skirmish ensued during which I must have said a lot of uncomplimentary things to that jury member regarding her musicianship, understanding and general sense of fairness. The upshot of it was that the majority of the jury voted with me and Elena got the First Prize. I have been following her career closely since then.
This evening’s performance was, much to my regret, a disappointment. It began with the artist’s descending the stairs. The other women, clad in traditional female concert garb, came down graciously, making the best of an uncomfortable situation, and some, like Smits and Escarpa, utilizing the situation to present a majestic display of personal pride, Scarlet O’Hara descending the grand staircase in Gone With The Wind. Elena, in a pants suit, was clearly and visibly annoyed by the inconvenience, making some audible muttering and funny facial grimaces at the process. That was, to say the least, most unprofessional. Next, she sits down and begins to talk, in English. She actually said something like “I know most of you do not understand English, but I’ll speak to you in English anyway.” As far as I know, there were a grand total of 10-12 English speakers in the audience, within a room packed with Czech people whose second language is mostly German. I have a special distaste for performers who need to talk to the audience. They rarely have anything of importance to say, and when they say it, nine times out of ten it is dead wrong, or totally irrelevant to the matter of concert music making. The first item: Leo Brouwer’s Paisaje Cubana con Tristesa. This gave Elena a chance to engage in political activism, discussing the underlying themes of War and Death in the work. That always rubs me the wrong way. It was one thing to circulate by e-mail Anti-American political manifestos during the Kosovo crisis, and quite another thing to express one’s political convictions to a crowd who may not share the sentiment. Elena is of course entitled to have whatever political views she chooses. I am entitled to be spared anyone’s political views, whatever they maybe, when the objective of the evening is musical entertainment. I was not amused.
Koshkin’s Usher Waltz followed, with a preceding long spiel about the Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe. Yes, I know, this is supposed to be the background for the piece. But as the person who first brought it to light in 1989, I am convinced that the Usher Waltz has nothing to do with the Poe story, but rather with the composer’s deep-seated Russian soul. The music is more related to Musorgsky’s Night on a Bald Mountain and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and to the long tradition of the Russian seven-string guitar than to the titular allusion. That is the reason, I think, that most performances and recordings of this work by Western performers fail miserably. It failed here too, in spite of the lengthy talk. Interestingly, one of the few English speakers in the audience was the well-known Czech guitarist Vladislav Blahá, to whom the Usher Waltz was dedicated, and who was the first person to perform it after the composer. I did not ask him for his opinion on this performance.
Next on the agenda: The Postman by Manos Hadjidakis arranged by Roland Dyens. Greek schmaltz in sauce béarnaise with some sprinklings of Tunisian harrisa. I’ll wait to hear this performed by Roland. The third movement from Nikita Koshkin’s Sonata dedicated to Papandreou followed. It is marked as a Presto but came through as an Allegro Moderato. Plodding. I’ll wait to hear this performed by Nikita.
After intermission (I’ll skip the thing with the stairs now) we were presented the World Premier of the Pink Variations by Evangelos Boudounis, dedicated to the performer. It is always nice to be present in a World Premier, but this one came a cross as a silly pastiche, a cross between Punk Floggd and Pink Floyd with some Greek cliches thrown in, with clear allusions to Brouwer’s Elogio de la Danza. I will have to wait to hear this performed by . . . heck, I don’t know, by anybody. I doubt it ever will, but I have been wrong before. The program closed with a fairly competent performance of the Libra Sonatina by Roland Dyens. It will be grossly unfair to avoid mentioning that the audience clearly did not share my impression of the concert. They loved Elena and demanded four encores from her, four times up and down the stairs. I have said enough.
July 15, 20.20—The Greenways Festival Singers & Duo Sonare.
The Mikulov festival concluded with this major concert. The event was made possible by a grant obtained by Friends of Czech Greenways from the Foundation Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Hickory Foundation in New York. The Greenways Festival Singers is a New York based chamber choir directed by Judith Clurman, who was also the Guest of Honor of the Festival. It was created to provide cultural exchanges of professional singers from the Prague-Vienna Greenways region, and the sister Hudson Valley Greenway in the US. The Prague-Vienna Greenways is the old coach highway connecting the two capitals, and ostensibly the route taken by musicians traveling by coach in those days. One can imagine Mozart and Süssmayr stopping in Mikulov for the night on their way for the first performance of Cosi fan Tutte!
The choir began with four renderings of the Ave Maria, by Mouton, Mozart, Stravinsky and Wayne Oquin, the last one being a World Premier. A most welcome change of pace and the eight men and women of the choir made it sound like a much larger ensemble. Graciously ascending the stairs en masse, the choir gave way to the Sonare Duo, Jens Wagner and Thomas Offerman, performing a Grand Duo based on an Haydn string quartet by François de Fossa, played on period guitars by Staufer. Just about the most perfect ensemble playing I have heard in a long time. I was particularly appreciative for this performance, since I have had a thing or two to do with bringing this music to light . . . The choir re-appeared and joined the Duo Sonare for a performance of a Bouquet of six Moravian folksongsfor mixed choir and two guitars by the contemporary Czech composer Antonín Tucapský, sung in Czech and played on modern guitars. Indeed, I would want very much to hear this music again. Perhaps not so subtly amplified as it was on this occasion. The duo continued with 3 pieces by Frank Zappa arranged by the Duo, with one guitar played with a metal slider. It is obvious by now that I am not exactly a fan of this kind of cross-over music, but I am a fan of the Sonare Duo. I say no more.
The concert, and the festival, closed with a performance of the Romancero Gitano op. 152 for 8 voices and guitar by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. A rare opportunity to hear this music live and Jens Wagner’s solo part stood out so well with the entire ensemble. Spanish passions and poetry, Italian passions and music, American singers and a German guitarist, in a festival in the Czech Republic. How fitting a close this was!
I must also say a few words on the daytime activities. Of course, all the artists who performed also provided master classes. Some teaching was also done by Patrick Zeoli, an Irish-Argentinian guitar teacher living in Berlin. I attended some of the master classes, but not long enough in any of them to say anything about the teaching. There was also a series of lectures, mostly in Czech with some translation here and there. I particularly enjoyed the conference given by Silvie Bodorová about her music. Many guitar makers were present and even some sheet music vendirs and publishers. Some good bargains could be had.
The Mikulov festival is supported by the City of Mikulov, the Czech Ministry of Culture, several important foundations and many commercial firms, not least among them several local wineries who provided the main lubricating substance, red or white at your choice, for the sumptuous reception which followed.
The next Mikulov festival will take place this coming July 7th. Full current details are to be found at:
including contact numbers, addresses and the full program. I will not be in Mikulov this year as the date conflicts with prior engagements I have. But I strongly urge you to go. I will be there again, when they invite me again, and if they invite me again . . .
Copyright © by Editions Orphée, Inc., 2001