“Polish Splendor” bonus tracks

Jun 12, 2020

Two additional songs included in our 2019 concert "Polish Splendor" were not included on the WFMT broadcast.  Enjoy these two live concert recordings below [clicking on the title will launch a new window to play the mp3 files].

1.  "Czerwone jabłuszko," arranged by Jacek Sykulski

The song "Czerwone jabłuszko" is based on a traditional kujawiak dance tune, which is a genre of tunes in 3/4 time from the Kujawy region. The kujawiak usually has a lyrical melody, not too fast, which is danced

with knees slightly bent.  The tune feels very old and probably is. The text is so well suited to the tune that it also feels old, but this is where we get a surprise. The text dates only from the time of World War II. The tune was being played by street musicians in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation, and it was used as a song of warning to alert people in the underground to the presence of spies, collaborators, and “ladies of light morals” who would deal sympathetically with the Germans.  The prolific composer and arranger Jacek Sykulski is the director of the Poznan Boys’ Choir, a well-known ensemble that tours internationally and has a strong reputation for musical excellence. Sykulski has  arranged everything from folk songs to pop tunes, and Chicago a cappella has done several of his works over the past 15 years or so. He has a strong and eclectic stamp to his music, and once he gets onto a musical idea, he pursues it with drive and intensity; one might think of Finland’s Jaakko Mäntyjärvi for a contemporary composer of similar individuality.  The combination of Sykulski’s intensity and the lyrical folk tune give a somewhat dark cast to the experience of the song. The tune migrates among various voice parts; the key changes from time to time; and the frenzied buildup at the end makes one feel that one is whirling in an intense kujawiak rhythm.

2. "Ach, Śpij Kochanie," by Henryk Wars and Ludwik Starski, arranged by Włodzimierz Sołtysik

This popular Polish lullaby was written in 1938 and first performed in the 1938 movie Paweł i Gaweł.  It served as the encore in our February 2019 concert Polish Splendor.

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