- Jawnuta, operetta: overture
- Straszny Dwór (The Haunted Manor), opera: Intrada
- Hrabina (The Countess), opera: Overture
- Flis (The Raftsman), opera: Overture
- Verbum Nobile, opera: Overture
- Halka, opera: Overture
- Paria, opera: Overture
- Bajka, symphonic poem: Overture
Stanislaw Moniuszko: Overtures - The Haunted Manor, Paria, Halka, The Fairy Taleby Antoni Wit
Stanislaw Moniuszko is little known outside of Poland except for the opera "Straszny dwór" (The Haunted Manor). The atmospheric overture to that opera is heavily in the vein of Carl Maria von Weber, but most of the other overtures here are clearly and simply divided into sections, follow Verdi more closely. Moniuszko devises tunes and foot-tapping marches that do their model proud. The most interesting and distinctive piece is the first one, "Bajka (The Fairy Tale)," designated as a concert overture, but really a little tone poem that might be likened to Liszt without the heaviness. The biggest attraction of all is the playing of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, whose tour of Polish music under the baton of Antoni Wit has been one of the joys of the Naxos catalog in the 21st century; it imparts a lively quality that has been missing from the few earlier recordings of Moniuszko's music. This is the kind of album you can play to stump musically knowledgeable friends who are unlikely to identify Poland as the source of the music. Novel repertory that deserves wider exposure.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsAntoni Wit Primary Artist
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In Poland, Stanislaw Moniuszko is a national hero. Like Dvorak, he was able to retain the characteristic sound of his country's folk music in classical works, creating music that sounded distinctively Polish. Most of Moniuszko's composition are for the human voice; songs, cantatas, anthesm and especially operas. This new release features ten opera overtures from "the Father of Polish Opera," and what a treat they are. Tuneful, straightforward, and full of energy -- to my ears they sounded like a blend of Weber, Suppe and Dvorak. And there's plenty of variety. some, like "The Hetman's Mistress" are real curtain-raisers, uptempo and sprightly. Others, like "the Raftsman" are quieter, setting the stage with long, languorous melodies of tender beauty. And almost all have slightly unusual chord progressions or rhythms that give them a distinctively Polish sound. Antoni Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra are admirably suited to these works. Just as a Viennese orchestra instinctively knows how to add a little something to a Strauss waltz, this Polish orchestra knows what Moniuszko's referencing, and play it as it should be. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys mid-century romantic music -- especially opera.