“Stanisław Moniuszko is the most important Polish opera composer of the 19th century. He is considered to be the father of Polish national opera, with a role similar to that of Smetana or Glinka in Czech and Russian opera. I was very happy when Naxos proposed recording first his overtures, then ballet and symphonic fragments of his operas. His works include many popular Polish tunes, and I am sure it will surprise music lovers that such wonderful music existed in 19th-century Poland.”
Stanisław Moniuszko was Poland’s leading nineteenth-century opera composer, and has been called the man who bridges the gap between Chopin and Szymanowski. In addition to operatic works he also composed purely orchestral music, and this recording reveals that his essentially lyric style could function perfectly in the non-vocal medium. There is thematically memorable music from the comic opera Hrabina (The Countess), as well as enduring Polish-flavoured dance scenes from his most popular and famous stage work, Halka. The spirited Mazurka from Straszny Dwór (The Haunted Manor), Moniuszko’s crowning operatic achievement, draws freely and inventively from his national heritage.
Listen to an excerpt from Jawnuta: Gypsy Dance
About the Artists
Antoni Wit studied conducting with Henryk Czyz at the Academy of Music in Kraków, continuing his musical studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. In January 2002 his recording of Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony (8.554478-79) was awarded the Cannes Classical Award at MIDEM Classic 2002. He has recorded a Naxos CD series of Szymanowski’s symphonic and large-scale vocal and instrumental works, each rated Disc of the Month by Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine. In 2012 he received a GRAMMY® Award for Penderecki’s Fonogrammi, Horn Concerto and Partita (8.572482).
The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra tours widely abroad (Europe, both Americas, Japan) in addition to its busy schedule at home in symphony concerts, chamber concerts, educational work and other activities. It now has a complement of 110 players. The orchestra's significant recordings include works by Polish composers Paderewski, Wieniawski, Karłowicz, Szymanowski, Penderecki, Lutosławski, Górecki and Kilar. Many of these have received prestigious awards, including a GRAMMY® in 2012 and six other GRAMMY® nominations.
Antoni Wit’s other recordings of works by Polish composers
“There is a lovely grace and elegance to much of this music, and Wit captures it with a lighter touch than others. The Warsaw Philharmonic is a front rank orchestra, and this music is in their blood.”