Oratorio Music Concert Filharmonia Narodowa

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Oratorio Music Concert
Ingrida Gápová, photo: Aciuro Studio

George Frideric Handel spent his whole life experimenting with various genres. Just when it seemed that a decline of interest in his operas would force the Saxonian into an early retirement, he enjoyed a resurgence in a genre that he reformed – nowadays known as the English oratorio. Here Handel relied on what the British have been famed for to this day – excellent choirs, some with a tradition stretching back for hundreds of years. In few of his works does the choral part play such an important role in terms of drama and illustration as in Israel in Egypt. Suffice it to mention that there are just a handful of numbers with solo parts here. Among the most attractive moments in this work are the grotesque, thrilling and at times utterly shocking musical tableaux of the famous Egyptian plagues. Hopping frogs are depicted by means of playful dotted rhythms. The intolerable buzzing of flies is imitated by rapid violin passages. The plague of hail begins with the gentle ‘precipitation’ of single notes, passing into an increasingly fast and elemental storm, full of ‘atmospheric discharges’ in the kettle drums. That violence abates for a while thanks to a fantastically depicted darkness – so dense that it was ‘palpable’, as specified in the libretto. The grand and shocking finale to the series of plagues is the extermination of the first-born sons, where a dramatic fugue resounds against chords that pulsate like fatal blows.

Bartłomiej Gembicki

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Bartosz Michałowski

Bartosz Michałowski graduated with distinction in choral conducting from Poznań Music Academy. In 1998–2005, he was assistant to Stefan Stuligrosz and conductor of the ‘Poznań Nightingales’ Boys’ and Men’s Choir, with which he performed extensively in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Russia and Japan.

He won first prize in the 9th Polish National Choral Conductors Competition in Poznań. In 2015, he won the Orphée d‘Or of the Académie du Disque Lyrique, and was nominated for one of the Polish record industry’s Fryderyk awards. In 2020, he received a Fryderyk for a recording of Szymanowski’s opera Hagith (with the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir). He also received two nominations for the International Classical Music Awards 2022. Michałowski is the founder and artistic director of Poznań Chamber Choir, one of the leading Polish ensembles of its kind, and of the ‘Opus 966’ Polish Composition Competition. He also devised the ‘Pisz muzykę – to proste!’ (‘Write music – it’s easy!’) composing workshops for children and coproduced the ‘Obrazogranie’ (‘Picture playing’) project at the National Museum in Poznań.

As Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir, he has conducted Szymanowski’s Kurpian Songs, masses by Kodály and Gretchaninov, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem, and oratorios: Paulus by Mendelssohn, Messiah by Handel, Christ on the Mount of Olives by Beethoven and Litanies of Ostra Brama by Moniuszko. He prepared the ensemble for the first ever performance of Anton Rubinstein’s sacred opera Moses (conducted by Michail Jurowski) and for a performance and the first ever recording of Moniuszko’s opera The Pariah in Italian, and has also helped prepare vocal-instrumental concerts of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Andrzej Boreyko, Ton Koopman, König, Matthew Halls, Martin Haselböck, Jacek Kaspszyk and Krzysztof Penderecki.

He has participated in renowned festivals including the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival and Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, and has collaborated regularly with renowned institutions and orchestras. He has numerous first performances to his credit.

In addition to gaining experience as a conductor, Bartosz Michałowski has spent many years working on enhancing his skills and knowledge in the field of voice production, completing masterclasses with Poppy Holden (Great Britain), Christian Elsner (Germany) and Jozef Frakstein (Poland). He holds a PhD and is a lecturer at the Chopin University of Music.

 

[2023]