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Two complete opera releases represent national ideals and flavour. Polish composer Moniuszko’s work is enjoying something of a vogue, with The Haunted Manor having enjoyed successful recent revival in Warsaw and Halka due for a major outing courtesy of the Theater an der Wien next season. Not that well-known outside its native land, Moniuszko’s music is mid-19th-century Romantic, with confident vocal lines, large choral effects and a strong Polish flavour, particularly in his use of dance rhythms. Halka (1854) is recorded live here in an Italian version, for reasons unexplained; a shame, as its whole raison d’être is its Polishness. Fabio Biondi’s conducting brings out the colours and zest of the score, (with the Europa Galante playing on period instruments), and the choral work is also excellent. The soloists are all up to the job, but no one thrills. Soprano Tina Gorina and tenor Matheus Pompeu both display cultivated instruments as Halka and Jontek, but there’s a feeling of emotional distance about the recording. So it is interesting, but not as fascinating as perhaps it could have been.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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