Symphonic Concert Filharmonia Narodowa

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Symphonic Concert
Judith van Wanroij, photo: archiwum artystki

Karol Kurpiński, a composer, conductor and impresario active during the early decades of the nineteenth century, left us piano music and orchestra works, a Clarinet Concerto that still holds its place in the repertoire, and a ‘military’ symphony devoted to the Battle of Borodino. Yet he saw his main calling to be the composing of (now forgotten) operas. The overture to one of them, the particularly popular The Charlatan, will remind us of this important strand to the work of the conductor and director of opera at the National Theatre.


The titular ‘eroe’ of Beethoven’s Third Symphony is not a specific figure, but an idea, while the music symbolises the universal message of good and beauty, love and self-sacrifice, that recurs in the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus (a motif from which is quoted in the Symphony’s finale), the opera Fidelio and the Ninth Symphony. This work adheres to a Classical design, but it also abounds in formal innovations; for listeners at the time, most controversial of all were the monumental scale of the Symphony and the power of its musical expression: pathos, passion, mighty sounds and dramatic contrasts.

Piotr Maculewicz


Polish Radio Orchestra in Warsaw

The work of the orchestra that Grzegorz Fitelberg set up under the aegis of Polish Radio dates back to the year 1934. In 1945, in Warsaw, after the tragedy of war, the conductor and violinist Stefan Rachoń reactivated the Polish Radio Orchestra, thereby opening a new chapter in the orchestra’s history. For 30 years, its repertoire was dominated by popular and light music. It was only in the 70s that crucial changes began to be made to the orchestra’s artistic profile. Włodzimierz Kamirski, who ran the ensemble from 1976 to 1980, consistently introduced new repertoire, and his work was carried on by Jan Pruszak (1980–1988) and Mieczysław Nowakowski (1988–1990).

In 1990, under the direction of Tadeusz Strugała, the Polish Radio Orchestra began rehearsals and concerts in its new home: the Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio. Under the direction of Wojciech Rajski (1993–2006), the orchestra’s lofty artistic standards allowed it to organise successful concert tours. From 2007 to 2015 the orchestra was led by Łukasz Borowicz, who introduced the new tradition of starting the season with a concert performance of an unknown or forgotten Polish opera. They included Stanisław Moniuszko’s Flis [The Raftsman] and Verbum nobile, Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński’s Monbar czyli Flibustierowie [Monbar, or The Freebooters] and Zygmunt Noskowski’s Zemsta za mur graniczny [Revenge for the Boundary Wall]. In 2015 Michał Klauza became the orchestra’s artistic director. Each new season still began with a concert performance of vocal-instrumental works by Polish composers commissioned by Polish Radio 2, such as Karol Kurpiński’s Szarlatan czyli wskrzeszenie umarłych [Charlatan, or the Raising of the Dead] and Karol Szymanowski’s Hagith, a performance of which was recorded onto a disc that won a Fryderyk award in 2020 (Album of the Year: Oratorio and Opera).

The Polish Radio Orchestra in Warsaw has been conducted with great success by such maestri as Jerzy Maksymiuk, Jacek Kaspszyk, Antoni Wit, Jan Krenz, Marek Moś, Mikhail Agrest and Daniel Raiskin. The ensemble can boast performances and recordings alongside such outstanding soloists as Iwona Hossa, Izabela Kłosińska, Aleksandra Kurzak, Olga Pasichnyk, Ewa Podleś, Jadwiga Rappé, Małgorzata Walewska, Piotr Beczała, Tomasz Konieczny, Mariusz Kwiecień, Artur Ruciński, Krzysztof and Jakub Jakowicz, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Rafał Blechacz, Charles Richard-Hamelin, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Piotr Paleczny and Dang Thai Son.

In the 2008/2009 season, the orchestra’s record releases popularised Roman Statkowski’s opera Maria, which was followed in subsequent years by such works as Szymon Laks’ Bezdomna jaskołka [The Unexpected Swallow], in its original French version, and Dobrzyński’s Monbar. To mark the centenary of the birth and fortieth anniversary of the death of Grażyna Bacewicz, the Polish Radio Orchestra in Warsaw recorded and released her three violin concertos and radio opera Przygoda krola Artura [The Adventures of King Arthur]. Recordings of works by Andrzej Panufnik under the direction of Łukasz Borowicz were released on four discs, which in January 2015 won an International Classical Music Award, while a disc recorded with cellist Dominik Połoński won a Fryderyk in 2007.