Giancarlo Guerrero brings the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic to the US January 10-February 1, 2020
Twelve-City US Tour – The First for this Polish Orchestra Since 2012 – Includes Stops in Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville and Throughout Florida and California
Repertoire by three generations of Polish composers – Chopin, Szymanowski, and Lutosławski – will be performed together with music by Central European composers Bartók, Dvořák and Brahms
Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski, pianist David Fray and violinists Janusz Wawrowski and Bomsori Kim join the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic on tour
This winter, the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic embarks on a twelve-city US tour with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director of the Polish orchestra since 2017. This tour is the first time the orchestra has toured the United States since 2012. Throughout the tour, the orchestra will perform works of Polish composers from across generations, including Frederic Chopin, Karol Szymanowski and Witold Lutosławski, an original patron of the National Forum of Music (NFM) in Wrocław. Johannes Brahms, a composer with close ties to Wrocław will also be represented on tour along with other Central European composers Antonin Dvořák and Béla Bartók.
The NFM Wrocław Philharmonic begins the tour on January 10 in Ft. Myers, FL and goes on to Gainesville (January 11), Daytona Beach (Jan 12) and West Palm Beach, FL (Jan 13-14) performing a Szymanowski Concert Overture or Lutosławski Symphonic Variations; Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony or Brahms Symphony No. 1 and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with pianist David Fray, described by Die Welt as the “perfect example of a thinking musician.” Polish violinist Janusz Wawrowski joins the tour for the Szymanowski Violin Concerto in a second concert in West Palm Beach also including Lutosławski Symphonic Variations and Brahms Symphony No. 1. The orchestra performs an all- orchestral program of Lutosławski, Szymanowski and Dvořák in Greenville, SC on January 19.
In Nashville, Chicago and Carmel, IN, outside Indianapolis (Jan 21-25), Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski joins the Wrocław Philharmonic for Bartók’s Concerto No. 3 in performances that include Szymanowski’s Concert Overture, Lutosławski’s Symphonic Variations and Brahms Symphony No. 1. The final leg of the tour will bring the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic west to Wickenburg near Phoenix, AZ (Jan 29), Orange (Jan 30), Palo Alto (Jan 31) and Rohnert Park, CA (Feb 1) where they perform the Szymanowski concerto with violinist Bomsori Kim, along with the orchestral works of Lutoslawski, Dvořák and Brahms.
“In the US, the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic will perform repertoire by three generations of Polish composers,” says Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero. “Of course, no tour by a Polish orchestra would be complete without Chopin, who visited Wrocław several times over his lifetime. Szymanowski, representing the early 20th century, was inspired by Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, and you will hear their Romantic influence in the Concert Overture, but with the Violin Concerto of 1916, Szymanowski is coming into his own. Though it is orchestrated for huge forces, including a piano, celesta and harps, the piece is still written in a transparent way where the violin undoubtedly leads the way. This work is really the first great concerto of the 20th century in a modern style. Lutosławski was the original patron of the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic and with his Symphonic Variations from 1938, we highlight the composer’s strong relationship with Wrocław and the orchestra, which has now recorded Lutosławski’s entire orchestral output.”
“With this important tour, NFM Wrocław Philharmonic reaches beyond the borders of the city to become a real cultural ambassador for Poland,” Guerrero continues. “I am energized by the vision of what this orchestra is becoming, and I am proud to bring them on tour to the United States to represent this important European cultural center.”
“In the U.S., Guerrero and the orchestra are traveling with 100 players, and they all appeared to be on stage for Szymanowski’s Concert Overture, the lively curtain-raiser of the tour’s first concert on Jan. 10, at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, one of four stops on the Florida swing of the tour. Composed by Szymanowski under the influence of Richard Strauss, and premiered in Warsaw in 1906, the twelve-minute overture is not an especially familiar piece (I had never heard it live), but it proved to be an attractive, opulent affair, all blazing brass and cymbal-heavy percussion at the start, then transitioning into lots of sweeping, Romantic strings, the rich orchestral coloring punctuated from time to time by languid solo harp…From the New World occupied the second act of the program, and the orchestra gave an excellent, more or less conventional account of the ever-popular work. The winds in particular distinguished themselves in Dvořák’s evocative melodies, while Guerrero brought Bernstein-like energy and flamboyance to the podium.”
Classical Voice America
Polish orchestra, conductor magnificent in rich program
“Under the direction of its newly appointed music director, Giancarlo Guerrero, the ensemble gave a strong performance that sparkled with myriad orchestral timbres and precise rhythmic drive…Under Guerrero, the Wrocław Philharmonic displayed precision and an endless tonal palette.”
Palm Beach Daily News
“Poland’s Wroclaw Philharmonic matched technical prowess with visceral emotion… the orchestra capitalized on the program’s many dramatic shifts of mood with technical and expressive splendor, each instrumental section showcasing its talents. Crisp, bright percussion and resonant, biting timpani complemented strong, focused brasses. The woodwinds filled their versatile role aptly, at times blending their diverse timbres with ease, other times contributing more soloistic tone colors. In addition to a robust depth of tone, the low strings showed impressive clarity of attack, and the high strings’ performance balanced precision with eloquence. Even the harp, whose delicate tone can be easily lost amid such forces, sounded particularly lush and present during passages of the concert opener…Leading the ensemble was conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, who also serves as music director of the Nashville Symphony and principal guest conductor of Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra. Atop his stellar command of coordination, Guerrero was a dramatic delight to watch, adding visual weight to the concert’s most climactic moments and enlivening those that were more routine. In passages where he knew his technique was unneeded, Guerrero ceased marking the beat and interacted with the audience in tongue-and-cheek fashion as the ensemble played on in perfect synchronization.”
Palm Beach Daily News
“While the works of Witold Lutoslawski and Karol Szymanowski may not be widely familiar to American audiences, they are musical mother’s milk to the Polish ensemble which played them with corporate sheen and dedication. Contemporary and unfamiliar scores are also the strong suit of conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, the orchestra’s music director, and the two rarities offered his most fruitful efforts of the evening.”
South Florida Classical Review
“a mature orchestra led by a conductor with unparalleled flair and passion…A generous double encore was quite possibly the most delightful example this reviewer has ever seen of a conductor as one with his orchestra.”
“Maestro Guerrero and the soaring string section wasted no time in bringing the ebullient and celebratory character of the opening passage to the fore. As the opening fireworks gave way to the more romantically charged lyrical second theme, Guerrero allowed the phrasing to slowly build in intensity and the ensemble’s expressive range was put to full effect. Guerrero’s explosive treatment of the final return of the opening flourish (heralded by an intense rising passage in the horns) allowed the audience to rush headlong toward a satisfying ending…One of the most exciting displays of virtuosity began the second movement as the fragile but lightning quick theme was passed around the ensemble with the intensity of a reprimanding church whisper. The clarity and stylistic integrity of the gesture as it was traded back and forth was truly impressive. The genius of this movement’s construction lies with its commitment to containing the most dramatic and exciting musical moments to the pianissimo statements of the frenetic theme that bookend the movement. The ensemble’s performance highlighting this feature of the work made these repetitive statements highly effective.”
Music City Review
“Guerrero and the large Polish orchestra (he also is music director of the Nashville Symphony) certainly presented a spectacular calling card after taking the stage…it was a pleasure to take in the excellence of the orchestra—the strong profile it presented in brief wind solos, the solidity of the strings, and the particularly zealous playing of the timpanist, who helped put a seal on the powerful conclusion of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor…Guerrero, whose career distinctions include six Grammy Awards, is well enough his own man not to need comparisons with Bernstein, of course, whether favorable or not. There are distinct differences just from a visual standpoint: He is less focused on shaping filigree than Bernstein was, and he thrusts his hands high with an often clarifying, less ecstatic angularity. In the Brahms, he eschewed score and baton. He oozes self-confidence and, what is even more valuable in conductors, genuine mastery. That was generally the rule in this splendid concert.”
Jay Harvey Upstage