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Wladyslaw ZELENSKI (1837-1921) Songs, Duets …
Marta Trybulec (soprano) (1-3, 7- 9, 12, 13, 16, 20, 21), Witold Wrona (tenor) (4-7, 10, 11, 14, 15, 19-21), Wiktoria Zawistowska (mezzo-soprano) (21)
Elzbieta Konopczak (piano)
rec. Sala koncerttowa Panstwowej szokoly Muzyczne Wadowicach, 2016
Polish texts printed in booklet but no translations
World Premiere Recording ACTE PREALABLEAP0384 [57:43]
Wladyslaw Zelenski was born in Grodkowice in the estate belonging to the family since the 17th century. His father died when he was nine and his mother moved with him and his siblings to Krakow, where he had his musical education. After graduating from middle school in 1857 he moved to Prague and continued studies in philosophy, receiving a PhD. After studies in music in Paris he settled in Warsaw and married in 1872. He composed and conducted his works and also taught harmony at the Music Institute and also became Artistic Director of the Warsaw Music Society. He later returned to Krakow and was instrumental in creating the Music Academy.
His musical legacy is quite large: nearly 100 songs, 4 operas, 9 cantatas, more than 20 pieces for choir a cappella and with accompaniment, 18 orchestral works (including 2 symphonies), organ works, chamber music works, piano works etc. Many of his works have unfortunately been lost. The most precious part of his oeuvre is, however, the songs, composed throughout his entire life. On the present disc are 21 of them, and there is a clear sense of folk music about them, melodious and with well-conceived accompaniments. There is a definitive draw-back for non-Polish listeners that there are no translations of the texts, so what one can do is listening to the music and try to create an image of what the songs are about – or just enjoy them as vocalises, which hardly was what the composer had in mind. Anyway I found several of them very enjoyable, and since they are first-time recordings there is a special thrill in walking untrodden paths.
If you have the same inclination I recommend you first try Siedzi ptaszek na drzwie (tr. 6) which, according to Google’s translation service, is about a bird sitting in a tree. It has a catchy tune and with a little imagination you may hear him singing. Then go to Mloda zaswatana (tr. 8), which I wasn’t able to find out what it is about – something/someone young and shaggy? – but it is a beautiful melody. Laskawa dziewczyna (tr. 9) is really charming and it is about a girl of some kind. Czarnobrywka (tr. 14) is a dramatic and intense song with hefty accompaniment, while the light and charming O piesni moje (tr. 18) is about a dog. Barkarola (tr. 20) is self-explanatory and it is a duet and the final number Dobra noc, a trio, is simply a good night song – very well sung.
Otherwise it is the singing per se that is the most serious hang-up. Marta Trybulec has a basically beautiful soprano voice and she nuances well, but she tends to be bitterly shrill at the top of her voice and some numbers are rather painful to hear. Her tenor partner Witold Wrona has primarily been singing operetta, and the singing here is not very subtle. Moreover he pushes his voice quite crudely at times.
Still it is valuable to have these songs recorded and Acte Préalable should be applauded for their ambitions to make these songs known to a wider audience.
1. Co bym ci chciala dac Op. 25 No 6 [2:58]
2. Zazulka, Op. 10 No. 1 [1:30]
3. Opuszczona, Op. 10 No. 3 [1:56]
4. Roza dzika [2:59]
5. Robaczek kochal sie w rozy [1:43]
6. Siedzi ptaszek na drzewie [1:54]
7. Tedy, tedy lecial ptaszek Op. 4 [3:16]
8. Mloda zaswatana, Op. 19 No. 1 [3:35]
9. Laskawa dziewczyna, Op. 25 No. 5 [2:23]
10. Jaskolka, Op. 19 No. 2 [1:48]
11. Dzikie sny, Op. 24 [2:15]
12. Teschnota, Op. 25 No. 3 [2:40]
13. Wspomnienie, Op. 8 No. 3 [4:36]
14. Czarnobrywka, Op. 7 No. 1 [2:03]
15. Czy aniolek, czy diabelek [2:37]
16. Zakochana, Op. 7 No. 2 [2:16]
17. Z lak i pol [3:26]
18. O piesni moje [2:20]
19. Nocna jazda [2:34]
20. Barkarola [4:51]
21. Dobra noc [3:52]