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Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (1846-1909)
Complete Songs 2
Bogumiła Tarasiewicz (mezzo-soprano), Karol Schmidt (piano)
rec. 2015/16, Concert Hall of Międzynarodowe Centrum Muzyczne “Wschód-Zachód” in Zielona Góra, Poland
The Polish song texts enclosed but no translations

In my review of volume 1 (review) I had some qualms concerning some of the singing. I have to admit, though, that as the programme progressed I became less concerned about possible deficiencies and could concentrate more on the music. This is a quite common phenomenon – at least with me – that when I get used to certain idiosyncrasies in a voice or reading I tend to listen through these hindrances, filter them away so to speak, just as I do with historical recordings with “bacon-frying” and distortions. All the songs and groups of songs on this disc have consecutive opus numbers and obviously represent Zygmunt Noskowski’s final compositions. It’s the mature master we hear, and what he possibly lacks in youthful freshness is more than compensated by the formal perfection and the expert balance between the vocal part and the accompaniment – a balance that was established quite early in his vocal compositions. Though self-evidently there are certain songs that appeal more than others, the general impression is an admiration of the constancy of inspiration and high quality. What was so evident in the first volume was the elaborated piano part, inventive, surprising and a driving force, and also here one marvels at the sensitiveness and open-mindedness of the piano writing. My comments to the first volume could in fact be copied straight off and applied to the second volume as well. Let me just give some random remarks to things I noticed specially. The second song of op. 68 (tr. 3) is titled Folk motif and the dancing rhythms may well emanate from Polish folk music, even though Noskowski allegedly wasn’t a nationalist in musical terms. The second song of op. 69 (tr. 6) is titled Night and it is beautifully contemplative. The second song of op. 70, At the crossroads, is driven forward by a jolly “wandering” rhythm and should be a suitable encore at a recital, making the listeners leaving the venue with a broad smile.

There are a couple of songs, almost fragments from stage works (tr. 10 & 11); the first charming, rhythmic and jolly, despite excerpted from a tragedy; the second dancing in ¾-time, light-hearted it seems, but the origin is a dramatic fantasy. The following song (tr. 12) is titled Disappointment and the dark and gloomy accompaniment is as tragic as the title. Among the very last songs there is also a beautiful lullaby, Sing me to sleep! (tr. 19); an impressive It’s time! (tr. 20) and the only reference to a compatriot: For Chopin’s grave (tr. 22) but no quotation of Chopin’s music as far as I could detect. It should be mentioned, however, that Noskowski in 1901 composed a variation work for orchestra, From the Nation’s Life, with a fanciful arrangement of Chopin’s Prelude in A major as the key theme.

The final work, Three pieces op. 77, includes two moving songs of Ophelia. They constitute a worthy conclusion to his career as a song composer. They were written just a year before his death at age 63.

Göran Forsling

1. Zwiędly listek (Withered leaf) op. 67 [3:05]

Trzy pieśni (Three Songs) op. 68 [7:01]
2. No. 1 Pieśń jesinna (Autumn song) [2:42]
3. No. 2 Motyw ludowry (Folk motif) [1:51]
4. No. 3 Sluchaj dziewczę (Listen, damsel) [2:28]

Dwie pieśni (Two Songs) op. 69 [4:42]
5. No. 1 Czy wiesz? (Do you know?) [2:17]
6. No. 2 Noc (Night) [2:25]

Dwie pieśni (Two Songs) op. 70 [3:11]
7. No. 1 Pylasz się (You are asking) [1:31]
8. No. 2 Na rozdrożu (At the crossroads) [1:40]

Dwie pieśni (Two Songs) op. 71 [3:42]
9. No. 1 Z wiosennych tchnień (From Spring’s gasp) [2:16]
10. No. 2 Pieśń Sępa (Sęp’s Song) from the tragedy Popiel i Piast [1:26]

Dwie pieśni (Two Songs) op. 72 [4:43]
11. No. 1 Hejże ino haj! Song from the dramatic fantasy Zawisza Czarny [1:45]
12. No. 2 Zawód (Disappointment) [2:58]

Cztery pieśni (Four Songs) op. 73 [6:10]
13. No. 1 Limba (Stone pine) [1:39]
14. No. 2 Czem się dzieje? (What is happening?) [1:18]
15. No. 3 Polaly się tzy… (Tears have been shed …) [1:33]
16. No. 4 Dwie zwrotki (do imionnika Jadwigi M.) (Two verses {to the album of Jadwiga M.}) [1:40]

Trzy pieśni (Three Songs) op. 74 [7:40]
17. No. 1 Biale mgly (White fogs) [2:13]
18. No. 2 Do fijolków (To violets) [1:34]
19. No. 3 Lulajże mi! (Sing me to sleep!) [3:53]

Przechodzień (Passer) op. 75 [7:41]
20. No. 1 Czas już! (It’s time!) [4:46]
21. No. 2 Idzie za tobądusza ma (My soul follows you) [2:55]

Trzy pieśni (Three Songs) op. 76 [10:39]
22. No. 1 Na grób Chopina (For Chopin’s grave) [4:01]
23. No. 2 Wezwanie (Summons) [4:37]
24. No. 3 Zakręcil sięwiatr (The wind circled) [2:01]

Trzy ni (Three Songs) op. 77 [6:04]
25. No. 1 Pieśń Gędżców (Gędżcy’s song) [3:30]
26. No. 2 Pieśń Ofelji o kwiatku (Ophelia’s song about a flower) [1:14]
27. No. 3 Pieśń Ofelji o wieńcu z wierzbiny (Ophelia’s song about a willow wood wreath) [1:20]

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