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Apolinary SZELUTO (1884-1966)
Aleksandra Kamińska (mezzo)
Laura Sobolewska (piano)
rec. Paderewski Academy of Music, Poznan, August-September 2014, DDD

Szeluto is an intriguing composer who formed part of the "Young Poland" group. He can more accessibly be explored through his chamber music. Try the much-missed Bob Briggs' review of the Dux CD of chamber music. With Szymanowski, Szeluto made common cause with Grzegorz Fitelberg and Ludomir Rózycki. Their range of nationalist romantic-impressionism opens up some fascinating possibilities; not least in the case of the astonishingly prolific Szeluto. He wrote 25 symphonies (some say 14; some 28; some 17, depends on your source) along with two tone poems (Cyrano de Bergerac; Macbeth), five concertos for piano as well as one each for violin and for cello. It seems that there is a lot more. He would make an interesting possibility for BBC Radio 3's Through the Night programmes. I am sure that Polish Radio could come up with tapes of some of the orchestral music.

What we have here are 18 songs and one solo piano piece (Nocturne tr. 11). Of the songs seven are to words by Mickiewicz, two by Juliusz Slowacki, and one each by various poets including Oscar Wilde. As if to affirm the international connection the last five songs here set words by Heine, three in German and two in Polish translation. This package makes tough going. The playing time is stingy at much less than 45 minutes and the only clue we get as to the meaning of the words set by Szeluto in these songs is the title and the author. The words are printed in the booklet and rather clearly but they are given to us in the sung Polish or sung German. As it is, these are first recordings and it may be that we will look back at this disc in ten years time as one of the earliest stirrings of interest in Szeluto.

What to say about these songs? I cannot say much. They recall the subtle and glaring colours and Slav passion of Rachmaninov's songs. There were times also when I thought of the songs of Arnold Bax and John Ireland although Szeluto is not quite as subtle as Ireland. The penultimate Heine song is given a super-heated operatic blast by Kamińska. You can hear the engineers pulling back on the gain in that eruption. Kamińska appears to be equal - and more - to the composer's demands; likewise Sobolewska. Sobolewska is a fine proponent of the aristocratic, noble and relaxed Nocturne for solo piano. The recording is warm and close.

This disc is marked volume 1 so we can expect to hear more Szeluto from Acte Préalable.

The booklet essay by Aleksandra Kamińska is in Polish and English.

Rob Barnett

List of Contents

Polska mowa (Polish language) op. 129 no. 1 (words Adam Mickiewicz)
Z albumu (From the album) op. 129 no. 2 (words Adam Mickiewicz)
Nad Bałtykiem (On the Baltic coast) op. 129 no. 5 (words Adam Mickiewicz)
Dwa słowa (Two words) op. 133 no. 1 (words Adam Mickiewicz)
Pierwiosnek (Primrose) op. 139 no. 6 (words Adam Mickiewicz)
Pożegnanie Czajld Harolda (Childe Harold's Farewell) op. 129 no. 3 (words Adam Mickiewicz)
Dudarz (Piper) op. 134 no. 4 (words Adam Mickiewicz)
Złoty sen (Golden dream) op. 136 no. 3 (words Juliusz Słowacki)
Jesienna róża (Autumn rose) op. 138 no. 8 (words Juliusz Słowacki)
Jesień (Autumn) op. 26 no. 3 (words Leon Radziejowski)
Marzenie (Daydream) op. 70 (words G. Karski)
Nocturne in B major op. 54
Kołysanka (Lullaby) op. 14 no. 2 (words Oscar Wilde)
Mazurek (Mazurka) op. 26 no. 1 (words Svatopluk Cech from "Pieśni niewolnika")
Die Lotosblume (Kwiat lotosu - Lotus flower) (words Heinrich Heine)
Die Blume (Kwiat - Flower) () op. 12 no. 1 (words Heinrich Heine)
Dein Angesicht (Twarz - Your face) op. 12 no. 8 (words Heinrich Heine)
Jesienny śpiew łabędzia (Autumn's Swan Song) op. 13 no. 1 (words Heinrich Heine)
Co szumi, jęczy... (Whatever murmurs, whatever wails) op. 13 no. 3 (words Heinrich Heine)



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