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A box of delights. BOX Moniuszko released on ANAKLASIS, on sale now!

2020-05-04

The two discs featuring music by Stanisław Moniuszko have now been joined by another ANAKLASIS release devoted to this outstanding Polish composer. Following W-ŚPIEWNIK and 'The Raftsman', PWM proudly presents the three-disc BOX Moniuszko, comprising the most beautiful twentieth-century recordings: the most famous songs, well-known arias and ensembles, and overtures to Moniuszko operas, part of the HERITAGE series. 
 

The first disc contains archive recordings from 1956: the six songs performed by Maria Kunińska-Opacka and Jerzy Lefeld come from the eighth and ninth volumes of Moniuszko’s Home Songbook. These interpretations, by a singer boasting a splendid lirico-spinto soprano voice, backed by one of the leading chamber musicians and accompanists in twentieth-century Poland, impress the listener with their culture and refined musicality. The second part of the disc is filled with four songs from different periods in Moniuszko’s life, in elegant renditions by Andrzej Hiolski, whose baritone is among the most beautiful and distinctive voices in the history of Polish singing. He is accompanied by Sergiusz Nadgryzowski.

 

The second album contains a selection of arias and ensembles from legendary recordings of The Raftsman, Halka and The Haunted Manor. The 1962 Raftsman, featuring the phenomenal Halina Słonicka in the soprano part of Zosia and the golden tenor voice of Bogdan Paprocki as Franek, with the ensembles of the Warsaw Philharmonic under the baton of Zdzisław Górzyński, can still be regarded, in many respects, as exemplary. Most of the excerpts from Halka, meanwhile, come from a Poznań performance recorded in 1953. The cast included the finest Poznań artists of the day: Antonina Kawecka, endowed with a rich dramatic soprano, the genuinely heroic tenor of post-war Poland Wacław Domieniecki, and Marian Woźniczko, whose captivatingly warm baritone voice boasts a sumptuous timbre. The conductor was Walerian Bierdiajew, renowned for his wide-ranging repertoire and excellent work with singers. In the Poznań Haunted Manor, recorded in similar fashion to Halka the following year (also conducted by Bierdiajew), Woźniczko took the role of Miecznik. We also hear on this disc the sonorous and metallic soprano of Barbara Kostrzewska, the lush mezzo-soprano of Felicja Kurowiak, the remarkably refined bass of Edmund Kossowski and the tenor of Bogdan Paprocki, regarded as the most convincing Stefan in the post-war history of The Haunted Manor.

 

The third disc opens with the fantastical overture Fairy Tale, perhaps more popular among performers and audiences than any other overture to a Polish opera. After it, the overture to Verbum Nobile sparkles with joyful virtuosity, and the overture to The Pariah thrills with its wild drama. In the preface to The Countess, a spirited mazur clashes with a refined salon waltz, the overture to Halka encapsulates not so much the action as the very idea of the work, and the Intrada to The Haunted Manor brings to mind associations with the lightness and virtuosity of overtures by Rossini. The overtures to Moniuszko operas performed by the Orchestra of the Poznań Opera under the baton of Bierdiajew, juxtaposed with those performed by the WOSPR in Katowice under Grzegorz Fitelberg, offer scope for comparisons and an opportunity for long, fascinating discussions over interpretations of Moniuszko’s orchestral music.

 

A collection that delights. The biggest names, the most beautiful voices, masterful renditions of famous songs, arias and overtures carefully selected from the Polskie Nagrania collection at the National Digital Archive. Essential listening not just for Moniuszko fans. 

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