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Moniuszko: Piesni - Songs

Moniuszko / Rappe / Nosowska
Release Date: 07/27/2010 
Label:  Dux Records   Catalog #: 743   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga RappéMaria Nosowska
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A warmly voiced and perceptive singer and poetic pianist.

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MONIUSZKO Home Songbooks : 12 Songs Jadwiga Rappé (alto); Maja Nosowska (pn) DUX 0743 (39:04 &)


What a delight this is. The only negative, and for some it will be huge, is the 39-minute duration. Given that Moniuszko wrote hundreds Read more of songs, there certainly was room for more here. But we have to understand that this recording was made in 1986, the waning days of the LP. Even then, of course, the producers could have fit more, but this length was less offensive in the LP world. I would urge listeners not to be deterred by that. The songs are beautiful, the performances first-rate, and Dux provides full texts and translations and excellent, natural recorded sound.


Moniuszko (1819–72) is known, if at all, as a composer of operas; some of his religious works have been recorded, but seem rather static and lacking in personality. A few of his songs have shared discs with other Polish songs, but to my knowledge this is the first disc devoted entirely to this aspect of his output (some Fanfare reader will no doubt point out some predecessor—but an Internet search turned up no other collection currently available). These are lyrical, tuneful, extremely attractive songs. While they have some elements of Polish folk heritage, it seems to me that the prime influence is Schubert, both in the vocal writing and the piano accompaniment as well. Some real gems here are “Song Without a Title,” a bittersweet reflection on a sad countryside; the passionate “Yearning,” which portrays the singer hoping to find love; and the heartfelt outpouring “I Love You.”


Jadwiga Rappé sings with a rich, plummy sound—a true alto—and a knowing sense of how these songs should go. She inflects the music with purpose and meaning, and Maja Nosowska’s contribution at the piano is equally sensitive. This was a wonderful discovery for me, and it will be for you as well.


FANFARE: Henry Fogel


Outside Poland the relative popularity of Halka, and of Moniuszko’s choral music generally, has tended to obscure appreciation of his songs. This is a great shame as the music is delightful, lyrical and must be highly pleasing to sing. There have been recitals devoted to his songs over the years and as many mixed recitals in which he has to share disc space with, say, Chopin and Karlowicz. But given their unpretentious concision and often ballad and folkloric inflexion there’s no reason at all why singers - and not just Polish ones - shouldn’t sprinkle a few of their recitals with examples of his art.

Motyl is a fine example, its rippling piano infusing the music with warm lyricism and buoying the vocal line finely. The bold ballad cum salon stance of the Gypsy song Cyganie shows that he is not without declamatory assurance when need be. Equally Dlaczego? is grave and introspective. As one can see the programming is constructed to reveal all facets of his song writing, from the ballad, to the salon to the Mazurka based dance pieces that are also part of his compositional arsenal. The unaffected ease - genial and warm hearted - that permeates Klosek is allied to a brightly borne piano part and is more evidence of unaffected lyricism. In her wry, self-deprecating and amusing note Jadwiga Rappé admits that many years before this was an audition piece of hers - an audition she failed. Some Slavic steel enters for Grozna dziewczynka - the haughty visits to the chest register are hardly the stuff of operatic lore but nor are they meant to be. They simply show the composer could add a degree of theatrical resilience when need be. Some of the songs sound a little like Glinka or, later, Tchaikovsky. Some too cleave more to German models. In Ja ciebie kocham one hears the influence of Schubert. Melancholia, in this case words sung to a child, can be heard in Do dzieciecia. In Do Niemna I hear the influence of Mendelssohn. This could be a sung Song without Words very easily. The river ripples deliciously; visits to the minor key are well timed; the little treble descant is effectively colouristic. The longest setting, Wilija, is also the most extrovert, the most flourishing, Przyczyna is another virile, lyric-salon setting. Elsewhere there is sweetness and a sentiment that does, it’s true, sometimes border on the sentimental.

Moniuszko may have plied the ‘national, domestic and local’ in many of these settings. But he also reveals an inheritance from Schubert, an awareness of contemporary German Romanticism, a shared Slavic inheritance, but above all a sure concern for effective word setting, a variety of form, and a hugely likeable sense of characterisation.

There are full texts with translations, an engaging sleeve-note, and a well judged studio balance between voice and piano. The only demerit is the very short timing. Moniuszko wrote well over 350 songs and it would be good if this May 1986 recital had included more - things like that masterpiece Znasz-li ten kraj. There are so many small scaled settings we could have at least another fifteen or even twenty songs.

Despite her witty self-deprecation Jadwiga Rappé proves a warmly voiced and perceptive singer and her rapport with the poetic Maja Nosowska is solid. Rappé may be best known as an opera and oratorio singer but she is appropriately intimate in these undated settings.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Co to za kwiatek by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
2. Motyl by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
3. Serce moje by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
4. Cyganie by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
5. Dlaczego? by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
6. Klosek by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
7. Tesknota by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
8. Grozna dziewczynka by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
9. Ja ciebie kocham by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
10. Do dzieciecia by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
11. Do Niemna by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850s 
12. Piosenka bez tytulu by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
13. Wilija by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
14. Zlota rybka by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Poland 
15. Przadka by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
16. Przyczyna by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Maria Nosowska (Piano)
Period: Romantic 

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