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Lipiński • Moniuszko: Bajka etc

{Oh!} Orchestra/Dirk Vermeulen (NIFC)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Lipiński • Moniuszko
Lipiński: Symphonies Nos 2 & 3; Moniuszko: Bajka
{Oh!} Orchestra/Dirk Vermeulen
Frederick Chopin Institute NIFCCD143   62:12 mins


Chopin so dominated the 19th-century Polish musical landscape that many music lovers remain unfamiliar with the works of his slightly older and younger colleagues. No one has done more to redress this than the Chopin Institute’s own label, which in this new release pairs orchestral pieces by one composer who was celebrated for his violin music with another who excelled in vocal repertoire.

The name of Karol Lipiński lives on as the appellation of music schools and universities in Poland from Lublin to Wrocław, but performances of his works are all too rare. Once known as the ‘Polish Paganini’, he struck up a friendship with his Italian contemporary that led to them appearing together in Warsaw in 1829, where the young Chopin was in the audience. Earlier, Lipiński had worked in what is now Lviv, and it was there (around 1810) that he composed these two symphonies. They may be classed as ‘juvenilia’, but they have a Haydnesque drive and energy that is quite distinctive and exhilarating in these performances by the {Oh!} Orchestra under Dirk Vermeulen. The period-instrument colours sound wonderful, not least the oboe solos in the Menuetto of B flat Symphony, played with poise and freedom. Though Lipiński’s more mature violin concertos give a fuller picture of the composer, these performances are irresistible.

Bajka (‘Fairy Tale’ — though with no specific programme) is Stanisław Moniuszko’s best-known orchestral work. Played in its first, 1848 version rather than the fuller orchestration sometimes heard, it is revealed afresh here.


John Allison