Farewells, Jakub Józef Orliński's latest album, is released on digital platforms tomorrow, 6 May, and on CD and LP from 27 May 2022.
On his new disc, the Warsaw-born countertenor, partnered by pianist Michał Biel, offers a panorama of Polish song. The repertoire of the album spans 150 years and is often nostalgic in spirit.
The album takes its name from a triptych of songs written in 1948 by Henryk Czyż, who joins five other composers on the programme: Stanisław Moniuszko (known as the 19th century's father of Polish opera), Karol Szymanowski, Mieczysław Karłowicz, Tadeusz Baird and Paweł Łukaszewski, a leading figure in contemporary Polish music.
Having recorded three programs of largely unknown baroque music, I felt it was time to go a different way – says Orliński – I present to you Farewells, my fourth album, a recital of songs performed with the great pianist and my dear friend Michał Biel.
We knew each other from Akademia Operowa, a young artist programme held at the Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa in Warsaw, and we were students at Juilliard together, which was the precise moment we began exploring the Polish Art Song repertoire. Michał suggested some Szymanowski songs to me, and though I wasn't on board right away the music grew on me, and we've since gone on to develop the wide range of Polish songs you'll hear on this album.
Not only is working with Jakub a unique musical experience, his sheer spirit and impetus also elevate and permeate the energy of the people around him. As friends, we understand each other very well both onstage and in real life, and as we have emphasised many times before, we hope that is something that can be heard in our interpretations.
The recording sessions took place at the beautiful Nowa Miodowa concert hall in Warsaw, a modern design with acoustic supervision by the best in the business, Yasuhisa Toyota. It was recorded by the young sound engineer Mateusz Banasiuk, who says:
Recording music isn't just about pointing the microphones and clicking record. It's all about understanding the feeling of the composer and the artist, and this album was created on those inviolable terms. The Nowa Miodowa concert hall in Warsaw has beautiful acoustical properties that help musicians express their art naturally, free of the tight confines of the recording studio.
As a countertenor, Orliński never imagined performing recitals with piano,
I saw myself being engaged primarily for opera productions and concerts of baroque music – I was wrong. Michał and I started giving recitals, and all of a sudden not only were we having lots of fun performing but offers to appear together just kept coming.
I am extremely proud and happy to be able to share this programme with listeners around the world. Having travelled as much as I have and sung so many different pieces, I know that no language is a barrier when it's set to music. I believe that music builds bridges and that it can engender feelings in a listener regardless of whether they know the meaning of the words. I'm sure these songs will get under your skin and will move you in one way or another. So just enjoy and let it happen.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.