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Moniuszko: Overtures / Wit, Warsaw

Moniuszko / Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra / Wit
Release Date: 01/28/2014 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572716  
Composer:  Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MONIUSZKO Fairy Tale Overture. Overtures to: Paria; Halka; Verbum nobile; The Raftsman; The Countess; The Haunted Manor; Jawnuta; The New Don Quixote; The Hetman’s Mistress Antoni Wit, cond; Warsaw P O NAXOS 8.572716 (79:26)


Stanis?aw Moniuszko (1819–1872) is a musical descendent of Weber and Donizetti, with some clear influences of both heard in his operas. He was Poland’s leading operatic composer in the 19th century, and his works deserve Read more more exposure than they get in today’s “masterpiece” driven climate. This collection of overtures is the most generous one we have been given on disc, and probably the finest. One hears influences of Weber, Donizetti, Rossini, and even early Wagner and Verdi in this music, but it would be too easy, and wrong, to write Moniuszko off as a cheap imitator. His voice may not be so strong as to be easily identifiable, but this is attractive music that demonstrates both inspiration and craft.


An Olympia CD (OCD 386) features recordings from the 1950s and 60s conducted by Fitelberg, Krenz, and Rowicki. These are exciting performances, but unevenly played by a variety of Polish orchestras, and with variable recorded sound. In the 1990s Robert Satanowsky led a collection with the Pomeranian Philharmonic on CPO (999 113) and Roland Bader and the Cracow Philharmonic gave us a similar grouping on Koch Schwann (3-1444-2). Both were adequate, neither was outstanding.


It is unlikely that any collector needs duplicate collections of Moniuszko overtures, and it would be difficult to recommend replacing one of those CDs with this one if you own and are satisfied with an earlier collection. If you don’t have one, or if you consider yourself a Moniuszko fanatic, then this would be the place to go. Although it would be difficult to make the case that Wit was a uniquely great interpreter, he does in fact bring more life and personality to these than was the case with Bader and Satanowski. (I’ll eliminate the Olympia collection from consideration because of its variable engineering standards). The lilt in the dance music at the center of The Countess , the tension created by careful dynamic shadings in The Haunted Manor , the wit present in The New Don Quixote are all qualities communicated clearly and with natural spontaneity in these performances. There is a lovely grace and elegance to much of this music, and Wit captures it with a lighter touch than others. The Warsaw Philharmonic is a front rank orchestra, and this music is in their blood.


Naxos’s generosity brings 25 more minutes of music than the Koch Schwann CD, and 13 more than the CPO disc. The accompanying notes provide helpful context for each of the overtures by summarizing briefly the operas’ stories. The recorded sound is a bit on the reverberant side, lacking ideal clarity of texture, but not seriously problematic. In sum, this is a delight.


FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Verbum nobile: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860; Warsaw, Poland 
2.
The countess: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Warsaw, Poland 
3.
Raftsman: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Warsaw, Poland 
4.
Paria: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859-1869; Warsaw, Poland 
5.
Jawunta: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860; Warsaw, Poland 
6.
Halka: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848/1857; Poland 
7.
Fairy Tale Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848; Poland 
8.
Haunted Manor: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
9.
The Hetman’s Mistress: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854; Poland 
10.
The New Don Quixote: Overture by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Poland 

Sound Samples

Bajka (The Fairy Tale): Overture
Paria: Overture
Halka, Act 1: Mazurka: Halka: Overture
Verbum nobile: Overture
Flis (The Raftsman): Overture
Hrabina (The Countess): Overture
Straszny dwor (The Haunted Manor): Intrada
Jawnuta: Overture
Nowy Don Kiszot, czyli Sto szalenstw (The New Don Quixote, or 100 Follies): Overture
Kochanka hetmanska: Overture

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  5 Customer Reviews )
 Unexpected Find October 18, 2014 By William Muthig (Milan, OH) See All My Reviews "The works of Stanislaw Moniuszko were unknown to me until this year. That is unfortunate as his music is very enjoyable to hear. The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Antoni Wit do their countryman proud on this recording. The Raftsman, The Haunted Manor, Jawnuta, and The New Don Quixote overtures are particularly notable." Report Abuse
 Outstanding In Every Respect July 22, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "What a magnificent revelation this new Naxos disk turned out to be! Nineteenth century Polish composer Stanislaw Moniuszko wrote a number of operas, most of which are undoubtedly unknown outside of Poland. However, based on what one hears on this recording, it can be inferred that his operas must have been lavishly and lushly orchestrated works... because that's exactly what one gets here with 10 glorious overtures. With Antoni Wit leading the excellent Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the works are uniformly full of vitality and exuberance, fully the equal of anything I've heard from Czech, French, German, or even Italian opera composers. Filling nearly 80 minutes, the disk does not contain a single weak track- any of these sparkling works could easily be programmed into any orchestral concert program anywhere- they are that good. The sheer quality of Moniuszko's orchestration is magnified here by the glorious playing of the WPO, an orchestra whose massive sound and palpable nimbleness and dexterity mark it as one of the really great European orchestras. I really don't think you need to know much, if anything, about Moniuszko's operas to thoroughly enjoy this disk. All you need to do is sit back, listen, and marvel at what he created to introduce his operas. Great music, superbly played, and superior sonic qualities all make for a compelling and irresistible musical experience. Don't hesitate on this one; it's a guaranteed winner!" Report Abuse
 Memories of a lost time July 3, 2014 By W. Murphy (Sacramento, CA) See All My Reviews "Emphatic, extroverted overtures in skilled mid-19th-century German orchestral style, built on tasty Polish-flavored melodies. Relates to Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann as Poland relates geographically to Germany. Well played and recorded." Report Abuse
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