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Gems of the Polish Baroque
Ensemble Giardino di Delizie/Ewa Anna Augustynowicz
rec. San Bernardo Church, Nepi, Italy, 4-7 April and 26 May 2019
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95955 [49:20 + 48:39]

That there is didactic value is this release cannot be doubted, and for many listeners outside – and perhaps inside – Poland, the names of many and possibly all composers represented here will be unfamiliar. One should forget all that, as this is indeed a garden of delights, sensitively and beautifully performed, perfect for any lover of the Baroque.

It is sometimes forgotten, especially in Western Europe, where for many students the history of Poland tends to be omitted, that for all its travails and endlessly shifting boundaries, in art, music and so many other ways, the nation has always had an internationalist outlook. Here we find composers steeped in the music of the Italian Baroque. Zieleński’s Offertoria et Communiones totius anni, a collection of 100 pieces for the entire liturgical year, was first published in Venice in 1611. So much in the music is redolent of the Italian style that it is certainly possible that he studied there – little is known of the details of his life. Kasper Foerster was widely travelled from his Danzig home, studying with Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674). The latter was influential not only as the fine composer we know, but also as the leading teacher of the Roman Baroque – his influence was very wide across Northern Europe, perhaps most famously in Charpentier’s works. Pepys wrote of listening to ‘the best piece of musique counted of all hands in the world, made by Seignor Carissimi, the famous master in Rome. Fine it was, indeed, and too fine for me to judge of’.

Adam Jarzębski, who began his career as a violinist at the court of the Elector of Brandenburg, also spent a year in Italy, before working at the court of Sigismund III Vasa, where the royal chapel was directed by Italian masters. While there, he worked closely with Marcin Mielczewski. Little is known of Stanisław Sylwester Szarzyński: he was probably a Cistercian, composing mainly for accompanied voice. His Sonata in D – a charming and accomplished little work – is his only extant purely instrumental work.

The Rome-based Ensemble Giardino di Delizie, specialists in Roman and Polish Baroque, use their resources to provide great variety to the ear. The ensemble consists of two baroque violins, baroque cello, viola da gamba, theorbo, harpsichord and organ, with guest artists adding additional theorbo and viola da gamba, as well as violone and dulcian – the latter instrument, a predecessor of the bassoon, made normally from maple, with double reed and folded conical bore, has a distinctive sound. This blend of instruments, variously deployed, provides the opportunity for contrasts between works to emerge delightfully. Performances are sharply focused and enthusiastic: there is nothing routine in execution.

These are delectable works to explore and to revisit. I look forward to future releases from this ensemble.

Michael Wilkinson

Marcin MIELCZEWSKI (c.1600-1651)
Canzon Seconda a 2 [5.26]
Kasper FOERSTER (1616-1673)
“La Sidon” Sonata a 3 in F for 2 violins, viola da gamba and basso continuo [9.41]
Mikołaj ZIELEŃSKI (1560-1620)
Communiones totius anni: Fantazja II for 2 violins and organ [3.47]
Adam JARZĘBSKI (1590-1649)
Chromatica – concerto a 3 [4.35]
Sonata a 3 in C minor for 2 violins, dulcian and basso continuo [7.06]
Cantate Domino – concerto a 2 [4.25]
Sonata a 3 in G for 2 violins, viola da gamba and basso continuo [10.00]
Berlinesa – concerto a 3 [4.00]
CD 2
“La Pazza” Sonata for 2 violins, viola da gamba and basso continuo [7.05]
Canzon Prima a 2 [11.08]
Sonata a 3 in C minor for 2 violins, violone and basso continuo [10.13]
Tamburetta -concerto a 3 [2.56]
Stanisław Sylwester SZARZYŃSKI (1650-1713)
Sonata in D for 2 violins and basso pro organo [6.06]
Communiones totius anni: Fantazja III for 2 violins, dulcian and organ [3.12]
Sonata a 3 in B for 2 violins, viola da gamba and basso continuo [7.42]



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