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Marek: Songs & Choral Music / Rigby, Dazeley, Szmytka, Burnside, Brain

Marek / Dazeley / Philharmonia Orch / Brain
Release Date: 02/14/2012 
Label:  Guild   Catalog #: 7366  
Composer:  Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  Elzbieta SzmytkaIain BurnsideWilliam DazeleyKrzystof Smietana,   ... 
Conductor:  Gary Brain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraPhilharmonia Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MAREK 6 Lieder. 1 5 Lenau-Lieder. 2 2 Lieder 3. Rural Scenes 4 (2 versions). Village Songs 5 (2 versions). Annemarie. 6 Polish Hymn 7. Listen, Death Is Read more Playing. 8 The Alps 9 4,5,7–9 Gary Brain, cond, Philharmonia Ch and O; 3–5 Elzbieta Szmytka (sop); 1,2 Jean Rigby (mez); 1,2,6 William Dazeley (bar); 3 Krysztof Smietana (vn); 1–3,6 Iain Burnside (pn) GUILD 7366/67 (2 CDs: 130:47)


To call Czeslav Marek (1891–1975) a chameleon or a musical sponge would have negative connotations that I wouldn’t intend. In the varied compositional tasks that he set himself, he reminds me of Ravel, but with one big difference. Almost every one of Ravel’s compositions involves a partial stylistic impersonation of some sort, whether he’s writing a Spanish rhapsody, Greek or Hebrew songs, deconstructed Viennese waltzes, Gypsy music, or making reference to jazz, the French Baroque, animal sounds, or whatever. Despite all of these guises, the music comes out unmistakably stamped as being in Ravel’s own style.


This eclectic collection of Marek’s songs and choral music begins with German Lieder composed in a sophisticated, early 20th-century manner, continues with folk-influenced Polish songs, moves to rich, conservative-sounding male choruses, and includes an extended, jazz-styled song and dance number, Annemarie . The music is elegant and accomplished on the surface, and its emotional rewards often go deeper than that, but Marek immerses himself so thoroughly in the idiom of each piece that I am left unsure as to what his own personal style might be. Unlike Ravel, whose music has always had a secure place in the repertoire, Marek has been almost completely neglected, I think at least in part because he loses himself so adeptly in each compositional task at hand.


The highlights of this collection are two lively, evocative and very accessible sets of Polish songs for soprano, Rural Scenes , op. 30, and Village Songs , op. 34, from 1929 and 1934, skillfully adapted from folk material. If they were better known, I am certain that they would be very popular. Guild presents them in two versions, one with orchestra, the other with piano, both sung with bright, pure sound by the Polish soprano Elzbieta Szmytka, a perfect match of the right voice with the right material. The colorful orchestration is particularly beguiling and allows for some broader tempos than with piano. The obvious stylistic comparisons would be to Bartók and Szymanowski, though the songs’ harmony and sensuous atmosphere bring Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne to mind. They are forerunners of Lutos?awski’s vibrant, Soviet-era Children’s Songs and maybe it’s just the experience of hearing a high soprano sing in Polish, but I hear foreshadowings of Gorecki’s Third Symphony in the more mournful passages.


One could easily mistake the skillful word-setting and resourceful piano parts of Marek’s very accomplished Lieder for the work of composers like Zemlinsky or Schreker. They are very well performed here by Jean Rigby and William Dazeley, expert Lieder singers who, nonetheless wouldn’t be mistaken for native German speakers. (Texts are available only at Guild’s website.) Iain Burnside is a masterly accompanist and his uninhibited, swinging solo in Annemarie gives the piece a stronger profile than on Guild’s Chamber and Piano Music Marek volume where it’s played in a two-piano arrangement.


The four mellow works for male chorus are beautifully performed. Polish Hymn is an a cappella arrangement of what is known as the second Polish national anthem. The Alps , with orchestral accompaniment, is a brief masterpiece with an atmosphere comparable to Brahms’s Nänie , elegaic and very moving.


FANFARE: Paul Orgel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Village Songs, Op. 34 by Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  Elzbieta Szmytka (Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; Poland 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  St. George's, Bristol, England 
Length: 16 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Language: Polish 
2.
Rural Scenes, Op. 30 by Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  Elzbieta Szmytka (Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; Poland 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  St. George's, Bristol, England 
Length: 14 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Language: Polish 
3.
Songs (5) on Poems by Lenau, Opus 17 by Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  William Dazeley (Baritone), Iain Burnside (Piano), Krzystof Smietana (Violin),
Jean Rigby (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1917; Poland 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  St. George's, Bristol, England 
Length: 12 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: Polish 
4.
Annemarie, Op. 38 by Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  William Dazeley (Baritone), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; Levanto, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  St. George's, Bristol, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: Polish 
5.
Songs (6), Op. 1 by Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  William Dazeley (Baritone), Jean Rigby (Mezzo Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  St. George's, Bristol, England 
Length: 13 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: German 
6.
Songs (2), Op. 12 by Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  Elzbieta Szmytka (Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  St. George's, Bristol, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: German 
7.
Village Songs, Op. 34 by Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  Elzbieta Szmytka (Soprano)
Conductor:  Gary Brain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; Poland 
8.
Rural Scenes, Op. 30 by Czeslaw Marek
Performer:  Elzbieta Szmytka (Soprano)
Conductor:  Gary Brain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; Poland 
9.
Pozdrowienie, Op. 6 no 2 by Czeslaw Marek
Conductor:  Gary Brain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Chorus
10.
Alpy, Op. 5 by Czeslaw Marek
Conductor:  Gary Brain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
11.
Boze, cos Polske by Czeslaw Marek
Conductor:  Gary Brain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Chorus
12.
Cyt...to gra Smierc, Op. 23 by Czeslaw Marek
Conductor:  Gary Brain
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Chorus

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