continues his occasional series
on East European music with
a visit to the Polish Royal Court
Multikulti DUX 0264
Here is a delight indeed. Baroque music of the Polish Royal Court -- under
Wladyslaw IV, for instance, under whom composers like Jarzebski and Pekiel
came to the fore -- was among the finest in Europe; and to judge from this,
well abreast of French and Italian developments.
Marcin Mielczewski became bandmaster to Karol Ferdinand, brother to the
monarch and prince-bishop of Plock (then Poland's second most important
musical centre), in 1645 : the period when much of north east Europe was
still reeling from the ravages wrought by Gustavus Adolphus's Swedish armies.
The composer died six years later.
This disc contains some of the most attractive examples of the early
Baroque genre I have encountered anywhere. There are hints of backward-facing,
as one finds in, say, Praetorius or Rosenmüller, yet coupled with a superb
assimilation of Monteverdian style, with much of the refinement of the contemporary
French Baroque as well.
The first two items on the disc -- a thrilling 'Triumphalis Dies' [listen -- track 1, 0:00-1:10] and the beautifully
varied 'Benedictio et Claritas' reveal the quality, too, of these two ensembles,
Linnamuusikud from Tallin and the Bornus Ensemble, named after its director
Marcin Bornus-Szczycinski. He adopts lively, spirited tempi; and every passage
of the music is beautifully sculpted. The full choruses are animated, indeed
they positively dance; the semichoruses, solos and verses -- of which Mielczewski
makes frequent use -- are like polished gems, enhanced by attractive youngish
voices. The instrumental ensemble -- strings, brass, continuo -- feels as
fresh as if the music were composed yesterday.
The brisk canons of 'Laudate Pueri' [listen --
track 9, 0:12-1:10] challenge Monteverdi on his own ground. Michal Pospisil,
the unvibratoed bass soloist in 'Deus in nomine tuo' is a little unrefined
in timbre, yet the plaintiveness is such, and the well-led string ensemble
so enchanting that even this retains its appeal. The shortish 'Dixit Dominus'
is just one of the gems to be found on this disc; and even the short snatches
of nasal plainsong framing the ensuing 'Confitebor' and 'Beatus Vir' are
stylish. Altogether, a find in every respect -- composer, performers, plus
a thoroughly pleasing, well-mastered sound throughout from the Polish Multikulti
Company's Dux label, distributed in the UK by Red Hedgehog.
Copyright © 18 April 2001
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
CD INFORMATION - MULTIKULTI RECORDS DUX 0264
PURCHASE FROM RED HEDGEHOG
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