2015 in Review – Recordings

The first concert played by the Warsaw National Philharmonic in its hall, newly-reconstructed after war-time destruction, was given on Feb 21, 1955. The recording of this historic concert—now digitally re-mastered by Grammy Award winning sound engineers Aleksander Nagórko and Andrzej Sasin—was released on Warner Classics under the title Warsaw Philharmonic Archives: The 1st Concert 1955 on Feb 23 as part of Warner’s new series “Warsaw Philharmonic Archives”

Szymański & Mykietyn: Music for string quartet (Hyperion Records CDA68085) was released by Poland’s Royal String Quartet, one of the most dynamically developing string quartets in the world today.

Highlighting the brilliant pianistic fireworks of virtuoso Aleksander Dębicz on his debut album for Warner Classics, Cinematic Piano combines spontaneous energy and vitality with a pinch of nostalgia and filmic tension. This artist is distinguished by a unique touch that brings out the instrument’s light and transparent qualities, while simultaneously remaining clear and precise.

2015 brought two new releases of Polish music recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and their Permanent Associate Conductor Grzegorz Nowak: Kletzki, Szymanowski & Lutosławski: Music for Violin and Orchestra (RPO Records) and Ju-Young Baek Plays Penderecki and Szymanowski (RPO Records)

The new Opus Series on Requiem Records—debuted on April 11 at the POLIN Museum of Polish Jews in Warsaw—will produce a series of recordings spanning a wide spectrum of works written for classical-style ensembles and acoustical instruments as well as works for live electronics, improvisations, and other pioneering genres. Curated by composer and organist Dariusz Przybylski, the Opus Series will present already established artists along with the artistic debuts.

On May 26, the US-based Warner Music Group (WMG) announced that its Polish subsidiary has finalized its acquisition of Polskie Nagrania ‘MUZA’, Poland’s longest-running record company. Polskie Nagrania was previously owned by the Polish government, which offered the label up for auction in January of this year after having declared bankruptcy in March 2010.

‘Dream Lake’ (CDAccord ACD216) was released by Polish soprano Agata Zubel and Finnish pianist Joonas Ahonen. The disc includes Andrzej Czajkowski’s Seven Shakespeare Sonnets and Witold Lutosławski’s Chantefleurs et Chantefables.

The twin series of symphonies and string quartets stand at the center of Krzysztof Meyer’s achievement as one of the most renowned composers of our time. His mastery of the chamber medium is revealed in the two works—Piano Quartet, Op. 112 and Piano Quintet, Op. 76—performed on this recording by Piotr Sałajczyk, piano, and the Silesian String Quartet (NAXOS 8.573357)

Deutsche Grammophon released a much-anticipated recording of pianist Krystian Zimerman and conductor Sir Simon Rattle performing Witold Lutosławski’s Piano Concerto (a piece the composer dedicated to Zimerman) and Symphony No. 2 with the Berliner Philharmoniker.

In November, the album “Jewish Polish Composers – The Survivors” (Harp & Co. CD5050-37) was released, featuring works for flute with violin, harp and/or viola by Roman Ryterband, Mieczyław Weinberg, and Artur Gelbrun. Organized by harpist Rachel Talitman, the recording also includes performances by Daniel Rubenstein – violin, Marcos Fregnani-Martins – flute, and Pierre Henri Xuereb – viola.

Called “a sonic broom” that “sweep all before them,” Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and former Artistic Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic, Antoni Wit, again came together as the powerhouse duo for another successful Naxos recording. This latest album features two works that are separated by 35 years—Magnificat (1973/74) and Kadisz(2009)—during which time Penderecki made a decisive break with the post-war European avant-garde. (Naxos 8.572697)

A new CD of music by Zygmunt Krauze, deeply inspired by the works of Polish painter Władysław Strzemiński, is now available on Bôłt Records (distributed as DUX 1207)

Camerata Vistula and cellist Anna Wróbel  recorded “Choralis Passeris – Polish Music for Cello and Strings” (DUX 1220) with works by Krzysztof Herdzin, Mieczysław Karłowicz, Witold Maliszewski, and Piotr Wróbel.

Polish violinist Kinga Augustyn has a new CD, which was recorded live in her adopted home of New York City at the DeMenna Center for Classical Music with pianist Evan Solomon.  It’s called “The Romantic Violin Recital” and it indeed consists of beautiful, romantic and virtuosic pieces for violin and piano both by Polish composers such as Chopin and Wieniawski, as well as international favorites.

Polish Night Music, the musical collaboration between American filmmaker David Lynch and PMC Director, concert pianist and composer Marek Zebrowski, was released in a heavyweight vinyl LP pressing edition on Nov 13. This album was previously released only as limited-edition, now out-of-print CD in 2008. Read a review of this project at www.theguardian.com.

The release of I.J.Paderewski – Pieśni [Songs] (DUX 1246) filled an important gap in the catalogue of Paderewski’s vocal works. On it, soprano Anna Radziejewska and tenor Karol Kozłowski with pianist Agnieszka Hoszowska-Jabłońska recorded the complete repertoire of Paderewski’s songs for voice and piano.

Founded in 2007, the 2011 Polityka “Passport” Award winning Meccore String Quartetresides among the elite of chamber music ensembles in the world, and October 23 marked the debut of Meccore’s latest CD of Szymanowski & Debussy (Polskie Nagrania/Warner Music Poland).

The 27-year old virtuoso pianist Aleksander Dębicz demonstrated his prodigious musical gifts on his Cinematic Piano CD (Warner Music Poland), exploring various genres of film music and combines them with jazz-inspired improvisational approach and the classical piano tradition to truly astounding effect.

Michał Szymanowski is one of the most promising Polish pianists of the young generation, and he has released his album Piano Recital (CDAccord ACD219, Nov 2015) featuring works by Chopin, Paderewski, Szymanowski and J. Wieniawski

On December 27, vocalist and violist KaroliNa (Karolina Naziemiec) released her new album, Songs of Hope(Rhombus Records), at Vitello’s Restaurant in Los Angeles. She was joined on stage for one set by her fellow recording artists: Tom Ranier – piano, Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz – bass, Larry Koonse – guitar, Alan Kaplan – trombone, Bob Sheppard – saxophone.