Bach, Górecki: Performed at Gniezno Cathedral, Gniezno, Poland

PolandPoland Bach, Górecki: Bogumiła Dziel-Wawrowska (soprano), Jadwiga Rappe (mezzo soprano), Magdalena Karolak (oboe), Janusz Wawrowski and Anna Maria Staśkiewicz (violins), Katarzyna Budnik-Gałązka (viola), Marcin Zdunik and Janusz Widzyk (double-bass), Michał Dąbrowski (positive organ), Spaces of Music Youth Orchestra (Marcin Zdunik, artistic director). Gniezno Cathedral, Gniezno, Poland, 09.09.2011 (LV)

Bach: Concerto in C Minor for violin, oboe and orchestra, BWV 1060
Górecki: Three Pieces in the Old Style
Bach: Arias Concertante from Passions, Cantatas and Oratorios for soprano, alto, obbligato instrument and instrumental ensemble:“Die Armut, so Gott auf sich nimmt” BWV 91
“Qui sedes” BWV 232
“Laudamus te” BWV 232
“Liebster Jesu, mein Verlange” BWV 32
“Ich folge dir gleichfalls” BWV 245
“Wiederstehe doch der Sunde” BWV 54

Bach and Górecki at Gniezno Cathedral

The Spaces of Music Chamber Music Festival showcases Poland’s finest musicians and composers in churches, palaces and castles that occupy a deep place in the country’s soul and heritage. For the opening concert, to which all in the full house were admitted free, festival director Janusz Wawrowski chose Bach and Górecki for the music and Gniezno’s proud Cathedral, in which Bolesław I Chrobry was crowned in 1025, for the stage.

Throughout the evening, it was the beauty of sound in the Bach that predominated, delivered with a grace, sweetness and serenity that threw conventional notions of historical performance practice out the Cathedral’s massive doors. Wawrowski led a small contingent of strings, including students from Yair Kless’s master classes, in playing that was as relaxed as yoga breathing and spiritually illuminated by something beyond beauty. The music rose effortless off the strings up into the vast acoustical space.

Sinfonia Varsovia principal oboist Magdalena Karolak, a student of Holliger and a frequent guest with Il Giardino Armonico, matched the light articulation and casual precision of the strings in the Oboe Violin Concerto, adding lyrical phrasing that was long-breathed and radiant. Her oboe d’amore solo in “Liebster Jesu, mein Verlange” was exquisite, with just a burnished hint of an English horn. Wawrowski made the solo in the “Laudamus Te” from the B Minor Mass into something sublime, eclipsing all thoughts of original instrument fiddles. Seated quietly at a positive organ, Michał Dąbrowski resolved concluding harmonies with the deeply consoling magic of a musical alchemist.

Bogumiła Dziel-Wawrowska and Jadwiga Rappe contributed solos of clean-lined purity, the former with a slight husky quality to her voice that may have been the result of a slight cold but which added immeasurably to the humanity of her singing. The latter used a refreshingly light touch even into her lower register.

Laurence Vittes