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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Frédéric Chopin - Polish Songs (Urszula Kryger; Charles Spencer)


Composer: Frédéric Chopin
  1. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 2. Wiosna (Spring)
  2. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 5. Gdzie lubi (There where she loves)
  3. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 4. Hulanka (Drinking song)
  4. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 16. Piosenka litewska (Lithuanian song)
  5. Czary (Witchcraft), KK IVa/11
  6. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 8. Śliczny Chłopiec (Handsome lad)
  7. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 1. Życzenie (Maiden's wish)
  8. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 12. Moja pieszczotka (My darling)
  9. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 6. Precz z moich oczu! (Out of my sight!)
  10. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 10. Wojak (The warrior)
  11. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 17. Śpiew z mogiłky (Hymn from the tomb)
  12. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 7. Poseł (The messenger)
  13. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 14. Pierścień (The ring)
  14. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 15. Narzeczony (The bridegroom)
  15. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 3. Smutna rzeka (Sad river)
  16. Dumka (Reverie), KK IVb/9
  17. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 11. Dwojaki koniec (The double end)
  18. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 13. Nie ma czego trzeba (Faded and vanished)
  19. Polish Songs, Op. 74: 9. Melodia
  20. Plainte d'amour (Mazurka in F sharp minor, Op. 6 No. 1) (arr. Pauline Viardot)
  21. Faible cœur (Mazurka in F minor, Op. 7 No. 3) (arr. Pauline Viardot)
  22. Berceuse (Mazurka in C minor, Op. 33 No. 3) (arr. Pauline Viardot)
  23. La fête (Mazurka in E flat minor, Op. 6 No. 4) (arr. Pauline Viardot)
  24. La danse (Mazurka in G major, Op. 50 No. 1) (arr. Pauline Viardot)

Urszula Kryger, mezzo-soprano
Charles Spencer, piano

Date: 1999
Label: Hyperion



Chopin's heart belongs to Warsaw - quite literally: it lies as a relic in the Church of the Holy Cross. References abound to murmurings of the homeland on the lips of the dying Chopin, and many musicians remain convinced that the composer did, indeed, write from the heart only when he wrote in the musical language of his native realm, in mazurka and polonaise. And in his songs. Written on the margin of his piano works, they were never intended for publication: these were Chopin's own intimate letters. And this latest recital by the Lodz-born mezzo, Urszula Kryger, shapes them lovingly into two groups: the love songs, and the patriotic laments.

The dark core of melancholy in Kryger's voice is fine-tuned to the Slavic melodic contours of a song like The sad stream. And her instinctive grasp of both musical and verbal inflection makes for a beautifully understated performance of Melodya, Chopin's last, heartfelt song of exile. Gentle mazurkas like Handsome lad and The wish give pianist Charles Spencer the opportunity to indulge in a frisky interlude and postlude or two. And, together with Kryger's agile mezzo, he relishes the cantering hoofbeats of The warrior, and the drama of The bridegroom where Ukrainian folk rhythms meet the night ride of an Erl-King head-on.

Chopin's own Mazurkas were rifled by his friend, the Spanish singer Pauline Viardot, who commissioned a minor French poet to write lyrics to a handful of them. She, in turn, ornamented them liberally, and the result was a set of beguiling, unashamedly sentimental salon pieces, five of which are sampled here.

-- H. Finch, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: ****


Frédéric Chopin (22 February or 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for the solo piano. He gained and has maintained renown worldwide as one of the leading musicians of his era, whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation". Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest superstars, his association (if only indirect) with political insurrection, his love life and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era in the public consciousness. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying degrees of historical accuracy.


Urszula Kryger (born April 20, 1964 in Lodz, Poland) is a Polish lyrical mezzo-soprano, pianist and teacher. Kryger began her musical life as a pianist but soon started voice-training with Jadwiga Pietraszkiewicz in Lodz and later with professor André Orlowitz in Copenhagen. In the 1990s, she won a number of singing competitions in Poland and abroad. Her artistic activity is centered around chamber music and cantata-oratorio repertoire. She has won several awards for her recordings on labels such as Hyperion, Naxos, CPO and Dux. Kryger is a professor at the Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy of Music in Lodz, where he teaches solo singing.


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