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Paderewski songs 1810
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Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941)
In Honor of the Master of Tone : Songs for voice and piano
rec. 2021
Booklet with commentary and artists’ biographies in Polish.
DUX 1810 [54]

Best known as a concert pianist and a champion for Polish statehood, Ignacy Jan Paderewski was also a humanitarian, businessman, patron of art and architecture, winegrower and film actor. He was also a composer, whose legacy includes over 70 compositions including orchestral, instrumental and vocal works.

The latter included an opera, Manru, in addition to songs for voice and piano This release by Dux offers stylish, polished and spirited performances of the bulk of his output in the latter genre. At his best, Paderewski’s songs draw the listener into the drama and atmosphere that he created through text and music on par with the finest of song composers. Even given Paderewski’s exceptional gifts as a melodist, it comes as no surprise, however, that the piano accompaniments are exceptionally vivid and at times more compelling.

The chief stylistic influences on Paderewski were Polish, especially the music of his compatriot Chopin, and French, despite his having completed his musical education in Berlin. He regularly performed his own works in recital, as well as the Piano Concerto in A minor Op 17, which was the only one that he composed. His Fantaisie polonaise sur des thèmes originaux, Op 19 and Symphony in B minor ‘Polonia’ Op 24 also gained a foothold in the repertoire for a time. Nowadays, however, one seldom encounters his songs either in recital or on recordings.

Composed in 1888, the earliest of the three sets of songs (Op 7) featured on the disc are settings of poems by Adam Asnyk (1838-1897), a Polish Positivist poet and dramatist. Polish Positivism was a social and philosophical movement that viewed work, rather than uprisings, as the true path to preserving Polish national identity and affirming a constructive patriotism.

In Op 18, Paderewski turned to the poems of Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), the greatest of Poland’s Romantic poets and generally considered to be its National Poet. A champion for Polish nationalism, when the country did not exist on the map of Europe, his views on religion, nationalism and social radicalism caused many political groups to cite him as an inspiration and helped shape national identities in the countries of central and eastern Europe that did not enjoy independent statehood in the nineteenth century.

In a departure from language and to some degree style, the recording offers all 12 poems that Paderewski set to poems by Catulle Mendès (1841–1909) which comprise his Op 22. The French writer, who along with Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé and Émile Zola, was in the vanguard of French symbolism and naturalism. Gabriel Fauré set his poem, ‘Dans la forêt de septembre’, which is the also included Paderewski’s set of French songs.

Dux has assembled twelve fine Polish singers that not only have alluring voices, but are at one with Paderewski’s musical and stylistic demands. The pianists, Grzegorz Biergas and Mirella Malorny, are their equally fine collaborators. Highlights of the recordings are performances of two of the Mickiewicz songs, ‘Piosnka dudarza’ sung by the superb young lyric tenor Stanisław Napierała, and ‘Nad wodą wielką i czystą’ performed by the equally compelling countertenor Artur Plinta. There are many others fine performances, but these two just leap out at the listener, not only for the singing, but as examples of Paderewski at his best as a song composer.

The program booklet is in Polish only and lacks song texts and translations in any language. Having the poems on hand isn’t essential to enjoying Paderewski’s songs, but they would have definitely been a plus.

Rick Perdian


Songs Op 7 (Adam Asnyk)
1. Gdy ostatnia róża zwiędła No 1
2. Szumi w gaju brzezina No 3
3. Chłopca mego mi zabrali No 4

Songs Op 18 (Adam Mickiewicz)
4. Polały się łzy me czyste No 1
5. Piosnka dudarza No 2
6. Nad wodą wielką i czystą No 4

Douze mélodies sur de poésies de Catulle Mendes Op 22
Ignacy Jan Paderewski
7. Dans la foret No 1
8. Ton coeur est d’or pur No 2
9. Le ciel est tres bas No 3
10. Naguere No 4
11. Un jeune pâtre No 5
12. Elle marche d’un pas distrait No 6
13. La nonne No 7
14. Viduité No 8
15. Lune froide No 9
16. Querelleuse No 10
17. L’Amour fatal No 11
18. L’Ennemie No 12

Ewa Biegas (soprano), Aleksandra Blanik (soprano), Ewa Tracz (soprano), Natalia Płonka (mezzo-soprano), Natalia Skrycka (mezzo-soprano), Artur Plinta (countertenor), Stanisław Napierała (tenor), Paweł Sobierajski (tenor), Maciej Bartczak (baritone), Jakub Borgiel (baritone), Adam Szerszeń (baritone), Jakub Schmidt (bass), Grzegorz Biergas (piano), Mirella Malorny (piano)

Published: October 3, 2022

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