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CD: Dux


Zygmunt STOJOWSKI (1870-1946)
Suite for Orchestra in E flat major op. 9 (1890-91) [23:13]
Le Printemps - cantata for mixed choir and orchestra op. 7 (1895) [7:24]
Prayer for Poland - cantata for soprano, baritone, mixed choir, orchestra and organ op. 40 (1915) [22:03]
Marta Wróblewska (soprano); Maciej Bogumil Nerkowski (baritone); Rafal Sulima (organ)
The Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra in Bialystok/Marcin Nalecz-Niesiolowski
rec. Podlasie Opera and Concert Hall, Bialystock, December 2007. DDD
DUX 0625 [53:56]
Experience Classicsonline

Stojowski enjoyed a cachet in the Golden Age not least for his solo piano music. Of late, Hyperion’s exploration of the two piano concertos (CDA67314 - see review) has re-established him as a composer of virtuosic fare for the instrument. His orchestral and choral music however has always been more of a sideline, more often read about than listened to. This Dux release will, one hopes, do as much to propagate these works in the collective imagination. It certainly deserves to.
The Op.9 Suite is a captivating piece completed in 1891. It’s cast in three movements. The opening is lightly and deftly scored, imaginative coloured, and redolent of lighter Tchaikovsky and also perhaps Dvořák. This opening variations on a Polish hymn increases in vehemence and power and builds to a magnificent, effulgent climax. One can imagine a ‘Stokowski conducts Stojowki’ spectacular, though I’m not aware he ever conducted Stojowski’s music. The central panel is a Polonaise cast in a Mazurka tempo and it’s full of lissom charm and dextrous pointing. The finale is another Polish dance, this time a Cracovienne, and it slowly gathers in vitality and drama to finish things splendidly.
Le Printemps was written in 1895 and it’s a compact cantata, mellifluous and full of the kind of charm that Delibes dispensed so effortlessly – not surprisingly it was actually dedicated to the French composer. Short though it is it evinces once again a splendid matrix of qualities – not the least of which is its sheer generosity of lyric ideas.
The Prayer for Poland was written considerably later, in a darker time, 1915. Its romantic parameters are ideally set, its sweep owing something to Rachmaninoff and to Elgar. The writing for strings, and for the organ, is expert and appropriate. Stojowski’s expansive, telling and ringingly vibrant writing for the percussion is another vital facet of his orchestrational palette. Strongly chromatic with the occasional impressionistic hue in places, it makes real demands on the solo singers and both acquit themselves well. If you have a taste for the vital energy that this work evinces you can rest assured that the forces here do the work more than valiant justice.
In fact they do so throughout directed by the assured Marcin Nalecz-Niesiolowski. This is a real find and the exploratory ear will find much to excite and stimulate.
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Rob Barnett



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