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Szymanowski: Songs Op 31 & 49 / Mikolajczyk, Wolanin

Release Date: 01/01/2007 
Label:  Dux Records   Catalog #: 549   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Anna MikolajczykEdward Wolanin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SZYMANOWSKI Children’s Rhymes. Songs of the Fairytale Princess Anna Miko?ajczyk (sop); Edward Wolanin (pn) DUX 547 (46:48 Text and Translation)

Unless I’ve missed something, the Children’s Rhymes are receiving here only their second recorded performance, while even so delectable a set as the Songs of a Fairytale Princess —a seductive showoff for sopranos—has maintained Read more barely a toehold in the catalog, and not always with first-rate accounts. Which is to say that Szymanowski is still caviar to the general. For the moment, however, the collector enjoys the luxury of having at his call splendid and quite different tilts at both sets, the present offering going head-to-head with Iwona Sobotka’s in a Channel Classics issue of the complete songs for voice and piano, which received a glowing review in Fanfare 29:1.

In Children’s Rhymes , 20 brief songs to poems by Kazimiera I??akowiczówna composed over 1922–23, Szymanowski, speaking a post-Ravelian language, enters the world of childhood with a beguiling combination of simplicity and sophistication. Who would have guessed the winsome magic to be divined, for instance, in “Home”: “If only you could squeeze yourself into a flower—Christina would like to live in a cornflower, Dolly’s busy among the roses because red flatters her face.” Sobotka leans primly, though not without warmth, toward their simplicity: Miko?ajczyk warms to their sophisticated sensuousness.

Claudia Barainsky’s 1999 Songs of a Fairytale Princess —indeed her entire and generously varied program—is still treasurable for general brilliance and her “coolly sibylline croon” (Orfeo 480 981, Fanfare 23:4). Sobotka is radiantly straightforward, projecting a Princess spoilt and distracted, where Miko?ajczyk’s is lapped in languor and loving it as she makes the most of her mezzo-like ambiguity shifting from bright to dark, her melismas freighted with expression where Sobotka and Barainsky toss them off. The first song, “Lonely Moon,” for instance, is dispatched by Barainsky in 3:26 and Sobotka in 3:57, where Miko?ajczyk lingers over it for a full five minutes. The remaining numbers are similarly clinging, discovering previously unsuspected nuance, and Miko?ajczyk’s partner, Edward Wolanin, is easily hand-in-glove.

An attractive open-out sleeve features a pasted-in booklet with an informative brief essay by Tomasz Je?, and poems in Polish with nearly idiomatic translations. The soloist is very close, the piano a bit behind—but clear and detailed—flaring into ambience. Enthusiastically recommended.

FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
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Works on This Recording

Songs (6) of a fairy-tale princess, Op. 31 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Anna Mikolajczyk (Soprano), Edward Wolanin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; Poland 
Children's rhymes, Op. 49 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Anna Mikolajczyk (Soprano), Edward Wolanin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922-1923; Poland 

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