At the National Museum in Warsaw, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute held a press conference and adjoining concert to promote the newest album celebrating Polish Mediaeval music. Over the past four years, ten different records were published as part of this series. The records present pieces composed by Polish artists and those who worked in the Polish royal court. It gives a full picture of the music created in the country from the 15th to the 18th century.
The cycle is a composition of phonographic projects prepared in a collaboration between the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, foreign record labels and musicians specialising in performing ancient music. The project is an important element of the institute’s work, aiming to bring back this little-known repertoire created in Poland and to make it available to international audiences through inspiring supporting performances of the music by leading European musicians. The ensembles performing on the CDs are The Sixteen, La Morra and Les Traversées Baroques.
After the success of a series that began in 2013 with the Coro recording label and ensembles The Sixteen and Les Traversées Baroques, the institute suggested two premier phonographic projects. Krzysztof Olendzki, the head of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute said at the National Museum:
Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz [Piotr Wilhelmi from Grudziądz] is part of a group of scientists and intellectuals who at the beginning of the 15th century were connected to Kraków Academy. They came from Kraków, Prague and Vienna and in the first half of the 15th century built the intellectual glory of central Europe. Today we speak about historical policy, about historical diplomacy, very often narrowing down these terms to just Second World War history. Recalling people like Piotr from Grudziądz and other creators of Polish culture from the late Middle Ages is a very important step in shaping the politics of history, to talk about our heritage.
Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz: Fifteenth-Century Music from Central Europe by the outstanding Swiss ensemble La Morra is the first announced at the press conference. It’s the latest project of the ensemble concentrated on Petrus de Grudencz (born in 1393, died after 1452), a poet, composer and priest connected with Kraków Academy and the court of Emperor Frederich III.
Petrus’s output can be found around all of central Europe (a sign of his numerous voyages) and is a typical example of the musical traditions of this geographical region. On the one hand, it shows the progressive musical trends and on the other, the preservative composing style ingrained well in this region. Michał Gondko, artistic director of the ensemble La Morra said:
We used his person’s biography to underline that musical culture in the Europe of the late Mediaeval and early Renaissance periods are not only achievements from Franco-Flemish composers like Guillaume Dufay. It’s a local tradition as well, that formed its own phenomena. Petrus de Grudencz is a wonderful example of an artist who can be called a central European composer. In this region, people used the same musical language, whether in Grudziądz [Grudencz], Kraków or Vienna.
The vitality of Petrus’s de Grudencz output in central Europe is best illustrated by the fact that it was well-known here in the middle of the 17th century. La Morra presents the artistic output of the composer within the wider context of central European musical culture, comparing his pieces not only with the output of Nicolaus Radomiensis, but with compositions by anonymous or lesser-known composers from that time with a list of surprising repertoire discoveries.
The second phonographic project is a CD boxset: Salve Festa Dies: L’Éclat de la Musique Sacrée au Temps de la Dynastie Vasa. The music collected within was performed by Les Traversées Baroques led by Etienne Meyer and Judith Pacquier. It presents the magnificence of sacral music in Poland during the Vasa dynasty. During the press conference, Alain Pacquier, founder of the recording label K617, said:
These artists discovered the output of Polish composers far away from here, in South America. It’s thanks to Professor Piotr Nawrot [a missionary and musicologist living and working in Bolivia for 20 years, who investigates and popularises music of so-called missionary baroque – ed.] who showed this Polish music to Judith Pacquier.
The album published in collaboration with the recording label K617 is composed of four CDs. The first three are well-known monograph records published earlier, dedicated to certain composers: Virgo Prudentissima (Marcin Mielczewski), Ortus de Polonia (Mikołaj Zieleński) and Kaspar Förster, un Novateur à Gdańsk. The fourth, a premiere called Vari Concerti Sacri, is a selection of vocal and instrumental music composed during the reign of the Vasa dynasty, like Mikołaj Zieleński, Adam Jarzębski, Marcin Wronowicz, Franciszek Lilius and Stanisław Sylwester Szarzyński. Paquier added:
Our company is interested in the heritage of different countries. Earlier we worked in the South America, today we’re very interested in Poland.
The boxset is unique in the European anthology of Polish music from the 17th century. Its publication with an ornate graphic casing by Grzegorz Laszuk is complemented by a book with an essay by Professor Barbara Przybyszewska-Jarmińska, renowned expert in baroque music, and the lyrics of the vocal compositions in their original language with transcriptions.
In November 2016, The Sixteen led by Eamonn Dougan recorded material dedicated to the output of Marcin Mielczewski. The publication of the record is planned for the second half of 2017, it will be the fifth record in the Polish series published thanks to the work of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Coro recording label.
The series began in 2013 with a record of Bartłomiej Pękiel’s music, the first Polish maestro di capella in the Vasa court. On the next three recordings, we can find compositions by Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki, as well as the Italian masters who created in Zygmunt III Vasa’s court, like Luca Marenzio, Asprilio Pacelli, Vincenzo Bertolusi and Giovanni Francesco Anerio.
After the conference, there was a concert presenting material from the new record by La Morra. The event was prepared in collaboration with the National Museum in Warsaw. The idea of supporting ancient music at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute was initiated by Łukasz Strusiński.
Originally written in Polish, translated by BR, Dec 2016