MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

 58,121 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for Ł15.50 postage paid world-wide.

Józef WIENIAWSKI (1837-1912)
Complete Vocal Works
Katarzyna Dondalska (soprano)
Ewa Filipowicz-Kosińska (mezzo-soprano)
Tomasz Krzysica (tenor)
Damian Chiliński (baritone)
Michał Landowski (piano)
Choir of the Szczecin Academy of the Arts/Barbara Halec
rec. 2017/18, Academy of the Arts, Szczecin, Poland
Booklet included (Polish, English) Song texts (German, Polish)

Born in a Poland that had ceased to exist as a political entity, Józef Wieniawski was the very personification of late-nineteenth-century, pan-European culture. The scion of a sophisticated, musical family, his older brother, Hynryk, was the brilliant violin virtuoso, whose name was mentioned in the same breath as that of Paganini. Both studied at the Paris Conservatory and then toured Europe together while still in their teens.

Their paths diverged in 1850 and Józef went on to study the piano with Liszt in Weimar and later composition in Berlin. From 1866 to 1869 he was a professor, alongside Tchaikovsky, at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1870 he moved to Warsaw, where he was a founding member of the Warsaw Music Society. Settling in Brussels in 1878 to teach piano at its conservatory, he resided there until his death in 1912.

His thirteen songs and six vocal duets comprise only a small portion of his compositional output, which is unsurprisingly weighted towards piano pieces and chamber music. His songs are choice, stylistically akin to the German Romantics - Schubert, Schumann and Brahms - as opposed to the more heady chromaticism of Liszt and Wagner. Little in them points the way forward to Mahler and Strauss.

Wieniawski’s taste in poets was eclectic, running from Wilhelm Müller, Heinrich Heine and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to Victor Hugo and Émile de Girardin, as well as Polish poets who were his contemporaries. One of whom was Zygmunt Krasiński (1812-1859), a rarity among poets as he was a wealthy aristocrat who would go on to play a pivotal role in establishing Poland’s cultural identity.

It should come as no surprise then, that one is automatically drawn to the piano accompaniments. The introductions instantly invoke a mood and place, transporting the listener to the private world of each song. It is not that the accompaniments dominate, but rather that they are so beguiling. Then again, Michał Landowski’s excellent playing and fine musicianship may have something to do with their allure on this recording.

The first selection, ‘Modlitwa do Najświętszej Maryi Penny Ostrobramskiej’ is a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy in the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania, known to the Poles as the Sharp Gate. It contains an image of the Blessed Virgin that dates from the early seventeenth century, believed to have magical healing powers. Wieniawski’s setting is a simple prayer, beautifully sung by soprano Katarzyna Dondalska.

Dondalska features heavily in the recital, displaying an expressive lyric soprano voice and a keen sensitivity to text. Her singing is absolutely lovely, especially in the strophic ‘Piesń wiosenna’ (Spring Song) with its lilting, idyllic accompaniment that ends with a flourish topped off by one of the soprano’s lovely, floated high notes.

She is partnered by mezzo-soprano Ewa Filipowicz-Kosińska in the six duets that make up Op. 47. Filipowicz-Kosińska’s deep, rich low notes contrast perfectly with Dondalska’s sparkling soprano. The duets are the equals of the solo songs in beauty and dramatic breadth.

The six songs that comprise his Op.50 were the last that Wieniawski composed. Each is a perfectly etched miniature ranging from the despair of ‘Grabschrift’ (Epitaph) to the irrepressible joys of spring in ’Morgenlied’ (Morning Song). The appeal of these songs is heightened by the lovely, fresh and natural singing of the silver-voiced Tomasz Krzysica.

The fine baritone Damian Chiliński is only heard in ‘Co jest życie?’ (What is life?), the second of the two songs that comprise Op.17, the other being ‘Piesń wiosenna’. Rueful and dramatic, with a declamatory vocal line and spare, chordal accompaniment, it ends with a rapturous piano postlude and the promise of salvation.

Originally scored for mixed chorus and string orchestra, Semiramis is the final work in this compilation, in which the composer evokes ancient Babylon with a Romantic palette of color and expression. Wieniawski also arranged it for piano accompaniment, the version heard here in a fresh-voiced, atmospheric rendition by the Choir of the Szczecin Academy of the Arts with Barbara Halec conducting.

Acte Préalable is on a mission to record all of Józef Wieniawski’s works. Its founder and president, Jan A. Jarnicki exhumed these long-neglected songs from archives and libraries, just the first step in bringing them to live audiences. I have heard songs by Mieczysław Karłowicz, Stanisław Moniuszko and Karol Szymanowski already this year in Carnegie Hall, hopefully some Wieniawski will soon join the list.

Another wish is that Acte Préalable will find further opportunities to showcase the talents of Tomasz Krzysica and Michał Landowski. I want to hear more of these two fine artists.

Rick Perdian

Ave Maria – Modlitwa do Najświętszej Maryi Panny Ostrobramskiej, Op. 16 (1895) [4:16]
Four Songs, Op.38 (1883) [15:35]
Two Songs, Op.17 (1859 & 1884) [7:13]
Six Songs, Op.50 (c.1895) [21:03]
Six Duos, Op.47 (c.1883) [20:49]
Semiramis, Op. 52 (1887) [3:30]

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus