From Poland: Thrilling Music from Two Unknowns and Boccherini’s “Fandango Quintet

PolandPoland  Noskowski, Boccherini, Moniuszko: Janusz Wawrowski, Anna Maria Staśkiewicz and Lena Neudauer (violins), Artur Rozmysłowicz (viola), Marcin Zdunik and Rafał Kwiatkowski (cellos), Bogumiła Dziel-Wawrowska (soprano) and Małgorzata Pánko (mezzo soprano), Robert Dymowski (bass baritone), and Michał Dąbrowski (positive organ). Konin (Poland), Parish Church, 13.09.2011 (LV)

Zygmunt Noskowski: String Quartet No.1 in D Minor
Luigi Boccherini: String Quintet in D Major “Fandango”
Stanisław Moniuszko: Religious Songs (selection)

For the third episode of the movable feast called the Spaces of Music Chamber Music Festival, Janusz Wawrowski and his troupe moved to an exquisite church in Konin – an extravagant yet deeply devotional amalgam of styles and centuries – to play an inspiring, thrilling concert of Zygmunt Noskowski, Luigi Boccherini and Stanisław Moniuszko for a standing-room-only audience.

The first string quartet by Noskowski, to whom the festival is dedicated, continued the composer’s quiet march towards not only respectability but international stature. In the hands of Janusz Wawrowski, Anna Maria Staśkiewicz, Artur Rozmysłowicz and Marcin Zdunik, Noskowski’s unique and gently fragmented romantic soul, reminiscent of many influences but derivative of none, found energy and beauty in radiant gestures and occasional stirring outbursts.

Noskowski’s cause was championed further by ensemble playing of such care and affection that at times it was as if one instrument were playing. Although the group preferred the shadow of a portamento to instrumental excess, there was still room for big cello and viola solos, and soaring lyricism in the violins. The audience, most of whom must have never heard this music before, responded with warm applause.

The Boccherini quintet, which has become a signature piece for Wawrowski’s gang, captured the audience’s imagination as it must, filling the resplendent church with its gorgeous tunes and delightful virtuosity. The audience, including many young children, relished in particular the high-flying antics of cellists Zdunik and Rafał Kwiatkowski and the suave beauty of Rozmysłowicz’s viola.

Although the 11 songs by Moniuszko were assembled from disparate sources, they had the feel of a cycle, ranging through a devotional process that began with a “Laudate Dominum” and passed through “Wings of Song for the Mother of God.” The eleventh song brought a sad, forlorn sense of Schubert’s hurdy-gurdy at the end of Die schöne Müllerin, before trailing away into a consoling cloudless night. The singing from the organ loft was exquisite, with Bogumiła Dziel-Wawrowska, Małgorzata Pánko and Robert Dymowski shining, whether they were together or alone. Michał Dąbrowski provided accompaniment on a nice, reedy positiv that must have certainly pleased not only the composer but the musical gods as well.

Laurence Vittes