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Mariusz Kwiecien-Slavic Heroes

 

Rodney Milnes

 

Arias from Yevgeny Onegin, Yolanta, Mazeppa, Aleko, The Devil's Wall, Halka, The Haunted Manor, Verbum Nobile (Moniuszko), The Cunning Peasant (Dvo°ák), Sadko, Prince Igor, King Roger. With the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, c. úukasz Borowicz. harmonia mundi HMW 906101 (one CD)

 

In the Editor's booklet notes Kwiecien says that his idol is Piero Cappuccilli, and it shows, not only in the warmth and beauty of his tone but also in a command of seamless legato that in no way compromises clarity of diction.

 

You could say that, in terms of recorded recitals, he surpasses his idol in the vividness of his response to dramatic values. In this he is greatly aided by the exceptional playing of Borowicz's marvellous orchestra, and indeed by his conducting, which raises this disc high above run-of-the-mill recitals. Their hair-raising account of the finale of King Roger is alone worth the price.

 

Onegin is another of Kwiecie˝'s signature roles, and you can see why in the way his tone perceptibly hardens in the crucial middle section of his rejection of Tatyana, and how he proceeds from hushed wonder to utter despair in his St Petersburg Ball outburst, followed here by the Ecossaise (as, I think, it always should be). Two of the longer extracts are especially rewarding: scenes from Aleko (lovely stuff) and Prince Igor, where Kwiecie˝ fields wide variety of dynamic and tone-colour to convey dramatic mood. Polish opera naturally features, including the hearty patriotic aria from The Haunted Manor (no wonder the Russian authorities took fright) and the charming love song from Verbum Nobile-a first, surely, for nearly all of us. Mazeppa's tenderness and passion for his Maria is beautifully put across, and the Prince's romantic longings from Dvo°ák's rumbustious rustic comedy is a welcome inclusion-it's just one of countless great tunes in a work deserving more frequent revival. This is a lovely disc, thanks to both singer and conductor.

Wexford Festival 2014
Opera Awards in association with OPERA Magazine