Paderewski Songs and Mélodies, Suite in G Major, and Nocturne

Capella Bydgostiensis

PADEREWSKI, I.J. Songs and Mélodies / Suite in G Major / Nocturne

NAXOS International, August 2021


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Spiritedly conducted

The orchestra of twelve strings plays well and is spiritedly conducted by Mariusz Smolij, who orchestrated the Nocturne. In fact, the orchestra is to be praised for its initiative in commissioning the orchestrations of the songs recorded here. This entire CD is very welcome, and I have no hesitation in regarding it as a strong addition to the discography of Paderewski’s compositions.

Jim Westhead, MusicWeb International.
This is all beautiful music,
beautifully performed. A brief Nocturne for strings (5 minutes, but very nice) is then followed with the 12 Songs of Op. 22, written in 1903—one of the composer’s last compositions. The texts are French this time, and the soloist is a mezzo-soprano, again with string accompaniment. …All of this is high romanticism. One wonders why the composer isn’t heard more often.
Donald R. Vroon, American Record Guide
Polish is supposedly a difficult language to sing,
but you’d never know it from Alina Adamski’s golden soprano; she soars smoothly through every aspect of Paderewski’s writing. Agata Schmidt’s bright mezzo cuts through the string ensemble. Capella Bydgostiensis is a small string ensemble…drawn from the Pomeranian Philharmonic. Its playing is rich and atmospheric, as is Naxos’s recorded sound. This is one of the most beautiful discs to cross my path in 2021.
James H. North, Fanfare
Made in heaven
There are so many other reasons why this new CD has such a broad appeal, apart from the novelty of its repertoire. Soprano Alina Adamski, in Op 7 and Op 18, and Agata Schmidt (mezzo-soprano) in Op 22, both Polish prize-winners respectively, have both such fine voices with immense power, yet a well-honed dynamic range, all allied to such great empathy for the music. Factor in the equally outstanding playing from the 12 members of Capella Bydgostiensis, with Mariusz Smolij at the helm, and you have a musical match made in heaven, and just for a relative song too, on the Naxos label.
Philip R Buttall, MusicWeb International
Two outstanding young Polish opera singers
Jan Ignacy Paderewski became one of the most remarkable pianists in the second half of the Nineteenth century, his brilliance amazing audiences around the world. Born in Poland in 1860, unhappy personal events dictated that his career as a concert artist was delayed until he was in his mid-twenties, when his outgoing virtuosity brought him both fame and fortune, particularly so in the United States. By then he had taken lessons in composition, and was to write in many genres, including an opera and symphonic works, though his frenetic lifestyle left little time to explore his gifts in that direction. On his death in 1941, he left just seventy completed scores. Sadly many of them have seldom received performances, the five works on this new release thankfully given their World Premiere Recordings. They come from a short list of chamber music, the three-movement Suite never heard in his lifetime, while his piano accompaniment to the songs has here become a ‘string orchestra’ by a commission from the orchestra. They are performed by two outstanding young Polish opera singers—the soprano, Alina Adamski, for the two groups of Songs, her beauty of tone being a constant joy—while the Twelve Melodies showcase the mezzo, Agata Schmidt, who ideally handles the many dark moments. My great regret is an inability to understand the words of the Songs, the accompanying booklet offering neither the texts nor the nature of the words, and you will discover they are only in Polish if you download them from the Naxos website. A short Nocturne for strings brings an interlude before the Douz Melodies the Capella Bydgostiensis—an offshoot of the Pomeranian Philharmonic—being twelve musicians conducted by the much travelled Mariusz Smolij. The 2020 Polish recording ideally balanced between orchestra and soloists.
David Denton, David’s Review Corner