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Mikołaj ZIELEŃSKI ( fl. 1611)
Opera Omnia - vol. 4
Communiones Totius Anni (1611) (i-xxii) [74:21]
Emma Kirkby (soprano)
Joel Frederiksen (basso profondo)
Zygmunt Magiera (tenor)
Łukasz Motkowicz (baritone)
Andrzej Białko, Susi Ferfoglia (organ)
Collegium Zieleński/Stanisław Galoński
rec. Church of St Mary of Fatima, Kraków, Poland, 29 June - 2 July 2010.
DUX 0819 [74:21] 

Opera Omnia - vol. 5
Communiones Totius Anni (1611) (xxiv-xli a) [58:57]
Agnieszka Drabent, Anna Magiera, Dorota Mentel, Joanna Stawarska (soprano)
Małgorzata Langer-Król (mezzo-soprano)
Zygmunt Magiera, Marek Opaska, Marcin Wasilewski-Kruk, Szymon Rudzki (tenor)
Jerzy Butrin, Marcin Wróbel (bass)
Joel Frederiksen (basso profondo)
Susi Ferfoglia (organ)
Collegium Zieleński/Stanisław Galoński
rec. Church of St Mary of Fatima, Kraków, Poland, 14 June - 22 July 2011.
DUX 0862 [58:57] 

Opera Omnia - vol. 6
Communiones Totius Anni (1611) (xlii-lvii) [49:22]
Anna Magiera, Dorota Mentel, Joanna Stawarska (soprano)
Zygmunt Magiera, Marek Opaska, Szymon Rudzki (tenor)
Maciej Michalik (baritone)
Jerzy Butrin (bass)
Susi Ferfoglia (organ)
Collegium Zieleński/Stanisław Galoński
rec. Church of St Mary of Fatima, Kraków, Poland, 4-22 July 2011.
DUX 0863 [49:22]

'Opera Omnia' in the case of Polish composer Mikołaj Zieleński means only two known works, but they are colossal. So huge, in fact, that each has been recorded by Dux across three CDs. All six discs are available in a recently-released box-set package, but initially - and rather strangely, it must be said - each volume was issued separately. The first three, Collegium Zieleński's recording of the Offertoria Totius Anni, appeared between 2009 and 2011. They are reviewed here. The final trio, the Communiones Totius Anni, came out between 2011 and 2012, roughly in time to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of what is said to be Polish music's first work in the Baroque style. Very little is known about Zieleński himself, not even a birth date - some sources give around 1550, but there seems to be little if any reliable evidence for this. He is chiefly known from the publication in 1611 in Venice of these two separate cycles for the church year, both dedicated to Wojciech Baranowski, Archbishop of Gniezno and primate of Poland. 

Now would seem the best time to consider acquisition of these recordings, with the project complete and qualitative integrity quantifiable. Appropriately, the Offertoria cycle has much to offer, although some may perhaps waver over the 'inauthentically' large choirs and differentially-sized groupings within them. 

Volume 4 features - rather incongruously, in retrospect - the dulcet voices of Emma Kirkby and Joel Frederiksen, no less. This was Kirkby's only appearance in the project (almost - see below), presumably finding her diary too busy for a return visit, but her presence, though minimal, is something of a coup for Dux, and along with Frederiksen bound to draw interest to the collection. 

Unfortunately, despite Kirkby's attendance, the quality of music-making on this particular disc, recorded a year before the last two, is a step down from the rest. Much of the music here features a soloist (sometimes duet) with simple organ accompaniment. Alas, tenor Zygmunt Magiera for one sounds strained or even out of his depth, even if he only appears on two tracks. Kirkby, it must also be said, is no longer in her prime. Fine baritone Łukasz Motkowicz does what he can in the circumstances - though his presence is also minimal. That leaves acclaimed bass Frederiksen as the main attraction, and on the whole he makes a good job of what is really an unforgiving role, yet like Kirkby, he does have his own idiosyncratic and at times inconsistent (or at best 'European') ideas about how to sing Latin. 'Kvey' for 'quae', 'tselli' for 'caeli' and 'z' for intervocalic 's', for example, are likely to grate on puristically-inclined listeners. 

All is not lost, however: volumes 5 and particularly 6 represent significant improvements. There are no more solos as such, with many of the items now sung by trios or, on the last disc especially, full, though still oddly balanced, choir. There are still a few weaknesses apparent in the singing - minor enunciation, timing, intonation and pronunciation issues - but they are relatively insignificant, with voices combining satisfactorily overall. Either of these two discs, in fact, would give a level of value for money that is not available to anyone forking out for the opera omnia - re-recording the below-par volume 4 would go a long way towards rectifying matters. 

Dux's engineering is good - better, indeed, than on the Offertoria discs, as the reverberation has been toned down and the long gaps between tracks reduced to more sensible levels. Kraków's Church of St Mary of Fatima has been used to record all six volumes. Accompanying colour-coordinated booklets give the original Latin texts with Polish and English translations. There are detailed biographies of Zieleński and performers, with small, 'Communist-style' black and white photos. Polish notes on the music are printed in a dense, pro forma typeface. Once again, presumably to save a few euros, the notes are given a rather shaky translation by a non-native - who in addition seems sometimes only loosely familiar with the rules of punctuation - making Galoński's arguments quite hard to follow. Now and then the results are borderline gibberish: "Why then he put texts under their parties?" ... "Did he want to prevent a performing wilfulness of not sophisticated musicians?" There is, incidentally, a slight numbering discrepancy, as the track-listing below shows - there is no item no.24, lost presumably to a misprint between volumes 4 and 5. 

As with the Offertoria, then, these are discs that will appeal almost exclusively to collectors of the period or of Polish music. They should be reasonably pleased with veteran conductor Stanisław Galoński's labour of love, though all should think hard about parting with good money for volume 4. Alternatively, Dux recorded a single 'highlights' disc in 2008, perhaps to test the water, with Emma Kirkby the only soloist - see review.  
Byzantion
Contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk

 
Track-listings
Vol. 4
In splendoribus Sanctorum (In Prima Missa Nativitatis Domini) [3:00]
In splendoribus Sanctorum (In Prima Missa Nativitatis Domini) [3:08]
Video caelos apertos (In festo S. Stephani) [2:39]
Exiit sermo inter fratres (In festo S. Ioannis Apostoli et Evangelistae) [3:46]
Responsum accepit (In festo purificatiois BMV) [2:20]
Responsum accepit (In festo purificatiois BMV) [3:06]
Si consurrexistis cum Christo (Feria tertia Resurrectionis Domini) [4:10]
Confundantur superbi (In festo S. Catheriane Virginis et Martyris) [2:19]
Venite post me (In festo S. Andreae Apostoli) [3:39]
Semel iuravi (In festo S. Nicolai Episcopi et Confessoris) [3:29]
Principes persecuti (In festo S. Luciae Virginis et Martyris) [2:34]
Amen dico vobis (Dominica post Pentecostes vigesimatertia) [2:38]
Mirabuntur omnes (Dominica tertia, quarta, quinta, et sexta post Epiphaniam) [2:40]
Introibo ad altare Dei (Dominica in Sexagesima) [3:07]
Illumina faciem tuam (Dominica in Septuagesima) [2:38]
Gustate et videte (Dominica octacva post Pentecostes) [2:25]
Qui manducat meam carnem (Dominica nona post Pentecostes) [2:44]
Tu es Petrus (In festo Cathedrae S. Petri) [3:23]
Amen dico vobis quod vos (In Conversione S. Pauli Apostoli) [2:50]
Ecce Virgo concipiet (In festo Annuntiationis BMV) [2:30]
Spiritus qui Patre procedit (Feria tertia Pentecostes) [3:16]
Qui mihi ministrat (In festo S. Laurentii martyris) [3:45]
Beata viscera (In festo Conceptionis BMV) [2:40]
Beata viscera (In festo Conceptionis BMV) [2:51]
Mitte manum tuam (In festo S. Thomae Apostoli) [2:42]
 
Vol. 5
Feci iudicum (In festo S. Mariae Magdalenae) [2:43]
Visionem quam vidistis (In festo Transfigurationis Domini) [3:21]
Beatus servus (In festo S. Martini Episcopi et Confessoris) [3:51]
Domus mea (In festo dedicationis Ecclesiae) [4:09]
Viderunt omnes fines terrae (In tertia Missa Nativitatis Domini) [3:39]
Viderunt omnes fines terrae (Alio modo simpliciter) [2:11]
Vox in Rama (In festo SS. Innocentium) [3:30]
Vos secuti estis me (In festo S. Matthiae Apostoli) [2:41]
Pascha nostrum (In festo Paschae) [3:00]
Pascha nostrum (Alio modo simpliciter) [2:00]
Per signum Crucis (In festo Inventionis Sanctae Crucis) [2:58]
Quotiescumque (In festo Corporis Christi) [3:38]
Beati mundo corde (In festo Omnium Sanctorum) [2:35]
Adoramus te Christe (Motetto de Sancta Cruce) [3:17]
Haec dies (Motetto in festo Paschae cum resolutione) [3:10]
Haec dies (Alio modo simpliciter) [2:11]
Surrexit Dominus (Feria secunda Paschae) [1:56]
Ego sum Pastor bonus (In festo S. Stanislai) [2:40]
Psallite Domino [In Ascensione Domini) [2:25]
Psallite Domino [In Ascensione Domini) [3:09]
 
Vol. 6
Benedicimus Deum caeli (In festo Sanctissimae Trinitatis) [2:31]
Spiritus Sanctus docebit (Feria secunda Pentecostes cum resolutione) [Utwór w dwu wersjach; patrz nr 51] [3:16]
Spiritus Sanctus docebit (Alio modo simpliciter) [„prota“ wersja nr 50] [2:21]
Tu puer Propheta (In festo S. Ioannis Baptistae) [3:28]
Optimam partem (In Assumptione BMV) [2:50]
Levavi oculos meos (Motetto) [2:39]
Domine Deus meus in te speravi (Motetto) [2:55]
O gloriosa Domina (Motetto) [2:10]
In monte Oliveti (Motetto) [3:09]
Benedicte Deum (Motetto) [2:36]
Ipsum benedicte (Secunda pars) [2:14]
Vidimus stellam eius (In Epiphania Domini) [2:31]
Laetabitur iustus (In festo S. Adalberti Episcopi et Martyris) [2:19]
Magna est gloria eius (In festo S. Matthaei Apostoli et Evangelistae) [3:02]
Magna est gloria eius (Alio modo simpliciter) [„prosta“ wersja nr 62] [2:28]
Benedicte omnes Angeli (In festo Dedicationis S. Michaelis Archangeli) [2:25] 
Gaudete iusti in Domino (In Festo SS. Tyburtii, Valeriani et Maximi martyrum) [2:47]
Contere Domine (Motetto) [2:48] 


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