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Otton Mieczysław ŻUKOWSKI (1867-1942)
Opera omnia religiosa 7
Beata Koska (mezzo-soprano)
Robert Kaczorowski (baritone)
Ewal Rytel (organ)
Choir Music Everywhere/Beata Śnieg
rec. 2016, Church of St Hedwig Queen, Bojano; 2017, Organ Hall of Akademia Muzyczna, Gdansk
Texts but no translations
Opera omnia religiosa 8
Marta Wróblewska (soprano)
Beata Koska (mezzo-soprano)
Robert Kaczorowski (baritone)
Rytel Ewal (organ)
Chamber Mixed Choir Duc in altum/Beata Śnieg
rec. 2016, Church of St Hedwig Queen, Bojano
Texts but no translations

The Polish composer Otton Mieczysław Żukowski (1867-1942) has been the subject of a long running series from Acte Préalable and in the course of the sequence of the discs, and these two reprise the theme, his musical siblings are also represented. He studied in Lvov, later becoming a teacher as well as national inspector of Polish schools in Bukowina, a time of rising Polish Nationalism. He was also a pianist and choirmaster. That said, one of the principal accomplishments of the series of discs devoted to the family’s music has been to unearth more and more of it and with it increasing amounts, however peripheral, of biographical material. What remains exiguous, though, is a proper chronological narrative and there are numerous gaps in the life stories of all members of the family.

His religious music and that of his brothers Stanisław, Aleksander and Jan offer examples of conscientious word setting. The most focused work in these two discs, apart from the Masses, is the sequence of Marian songs to be heard in volume 7. Note that this includes Nos. 1-20. There are five more in volume 4 (AP0354). The Marian songs are cast for solo voice or chorus, and organ. The settings are attractive if sometimes plain and cast in a very approachable popular style. These direct Slavic settings are usually brief – one that breaches five minutes is on its own. Something like Pray for Us sounds like a Polish cousin of Panis Angelicus. Of the Marian songs here, the Salve Regina is probably the most accomplished. The Oath of the Sodality of Our Lady, by contrast, sounds almost Schubertian and the Sodality Hymn something of a stirring potboiler. The examples by his brothers in this volume are too slight to suggest the nature of their compositional talent.

Jan and Stan composed in a rather lighter style than Otton. Jan’s Missa in honorem Immaculatae Conceptionis Beatae Mariae Virginis is regular, and almost childlike in effect. Its modest, discreet and simple style would doubtless have been in keeping with its expected use but the impression it leaves now, of constraint and lack of much in the way of musical ambition, is not always to its advantage. Stanisław’s use of Caro mio ben – to Polish words – in Prayer of the Lord, by which I assume the Lord’s Prayer is meant, is quite touching if somewhat incongruous in the context.

There’s quite a bit of air, mechanical or otherwise – probably from the organ – in these recordings, heard most noticeably when a solo singer is accompanied. Robert Kaczorowski is a priest as well as a singer and organist. His gear-changing baritone makes an uneven impression and the voice has a hollowness to it that doesn’t always mask the sensitivity of much of his phrasing. Mezzo Beata Koska and soprano Marta Wróblewska make a more consistent impression

The fact that the texts don’t carry translations will be an impediment for many potential listeners, but it has to be admitted that these discs will have only the most specialised interest outside Polish borders. The performances and recording alike are rather uneven, as noted. This is good honest work in promoting unknown Polish composers, but I fear it won’t appeal too widely.

Jonathan Woolf

Opera omnia religiosa 7
Bogarodzica (Mother of God) [2:55]
Introit z Piątej Mszy Polskiej (Introit from Polish Mass no. 5) op. 81 [2:12]
Zawitaj Królowo! (Welcome, Queen!) [3:28]
Ave Maria (Gdy słońce zajdzie...) (When the sun goes down...) [3:53]
O Przenajświętsza Marjo Dziewico! (Oh Blessed Virgin Mary!) [1:25]
Bądź pozdrowiona (Hail) [2:54]
Na Wniebowzięcie N. P. Marji (For the Assumption of Mary into Heaven) [2:50]
Ave Maria [2:07]
Módl się za nami (Pray for us) [5:16]
O Matko Przenajświętsza (Oh Blessed Mother) [3:15]
W cierpieniu (In suffering) [2:46]
Salve Regina [3:06]
Na Święto Matki Boskiej Zielnej (For the Feast of St Mary the Virgin) [2:07]
Przysięga Sodalicji Marjańskiej (The oath of the Sodality of Our Lady) [3:13]
Bądź pochwalona! (Be praised!) [3:02]
Hymn Sodalisów (Sodality Hymn) [3:37]
Stanisław ŻUKOWSKI (1881-1935)
Pod Twą obronę (Under Your protection) [2:22]
Królowo nasza! (Our Queen!) [5:49]
Aleksander ŻUKOWSKI (1879-1911)
Ratuj Maryo (Help, Mary) [2:33]

Opera omnia religiosa 8
Hołd młodzieży (Youth tribute) [1:44]
U tronu Twego (In your throne) [1:23]
Jan ŻUKOWSKI (1870-1911)
Matko pomocy nieustającej (Mother of perpetual help) [2:26]
Missa in honorem Immaculatae Conceptionis Beatae Mariae Virginis [15:43]
Modlitwa do Boga-Rodzicy (Prayer to the Mother of God) op. 5 [2:47]
Mass op. 22 [14:07]
O Chryste (O Christ) op. 14 [3:04]
Adoro te devote [3:36]
Stanisław ŻUKOWSKI (1881-1935)
Chwała Marji (Glory to Mary) [4:25]
O Przenajświętsza Hostya (O Most Holy Host) [2:57]
Do Twego serca, o Chryste (To Your Heart, O Christ) [2:35]
Modlitwa Pańska (Prayer of the Lord) (Tommaso Giordani) [4:59]
Westchnienia (Sighs) [2:33]
Przed tak wielkim Sakramentem (Before such a great Sacrament) [3:20]
Hymn na cześć Chrystusa-Króla (Hymn in honor of Christ-King) [2:33]



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