Oratorio Music Concert Filharmonia Narodowa

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Oratorio Music Concert
Ingrida Gápová, fot. 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

Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir since 2017.

Bartosz Michałowski graduated with distinction in choral conducting from the Academy of Music in Poznań. In the years 1998–2005, he was assistant to Professor Stefan Stuligrosz and conductor of the Boys’ and Men’s Choir of the Poznań Philharmonic (known as the Poznań Nightingales), with which he has 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, as well as a special prize for his diligent work on voice production with choirs. In 2015, he won the Orphée d‘Or of the Académie du Disque Lyrique in Paris, and was nominated for a Fryderyk Award. In 2020, he received a Fryderyk Award for a recording of Karol Szymanowski’s opera Hagith (with the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir). He also received two nominations for the International Classical Music Awards 2022.

Bartosz Michałowski is the founder, Artistic Director and conductor of the Poznań Chamber Choir – one of the best Polish ensembles of its kind. He is likewise the founder and Director of the ‘Opus 966’ Polish Composition Competition, and devised the ‘Pisz Muzykę – to proste!’ (‘Write music – it’s easy!’) composing workshops for children and youngsters. He also co-produced the ‘Obrazogranie’ project at the National Museum in Poznań.

As the Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir, he has conducted – both in the Warsaw Philharmonic concert hall itself and in external venues – 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 and Messiah by Handel. He prepared the ensemble for the first ever performance of Anton Rubinstein’s sacred opera Moses (cond. Michail Jurowski) and has also helped prepare a dozen vocal-instrumental concerts of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, during which he has collaborated with such eminent conductors as Ton Koopman, Christoph König, Matthew Halls, Martin Haselböck, Jacek Kaspszyk and  Krzysztof Penderecki.

He has been invited to participate in renowned festivals including the SchleswigHolstein 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 Józef Frakstein (Poland). Bartosz Michałowski holds a PhD from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music.

 

[2022]