The name of Ignacy Feliks Dobrzynski is still not well known outside his native Poland, but there was a time when he vied for attention in Warsaw’s musical circles with his near-contemporary Fryderyk Chopin who went on to become the country’s most famous composer. The career of Chopin flourished after he left Poland. Dobrzynski on the other hand remained in Warsaw and saw his own compositional ambitions thwarted by the difficulty of working in Russian-occupied Poland.
The works on these discs date from a time when Dobrzynski was a young man. He was only seventeen when, in 1824, he wrote his Piano Concerto. With this work Dobrzynski followed in the footsteps of composers such as Hummel and Field, associated with the style brillant, but made more than a passing nod to Weber and to late eighteenth-century idioms.
The Second Symphony followed in 1834. Revising the symphony much later, Dobrzynski wrote a new slow movement for the piece in 1862, and it is in this version that the symphony has since been performed. Uniquely, both slow movements are included on this disc. The tone that Dobrzynski adopted for the music is urgent and impassioned, probably a reflection of the occupied and divided Poland of the 1830s.
Dobrzynski considered the opera Monbar, or The Filibusters his masterpiece. Setting a pirate tale, the work displays plenty of orchestral swashbuckling, offering throughout clearly depicted themes, such as tropical storms, fighting, love, and, of course, treason. The opera had to wait twenty-five years for its complete premiere, under the composer’s baton, in Warsaw, in January 1863. Even then the opera only had three performances before the break-out two weeks later of the January Uprising, a Polish protest against the occupying forces. Monbar was subsequently shelved and not heard again until a concert performance in Warsaw in 2010.
Lukasz Borowicz was appointed Artistic Director of the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Warsaw in 2007; he has appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras including the Konzerthausorchester in Berlin, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Philharmonic Orchestra, and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The Polish-born pianist Emilian Madey is also active as a composer, conductor, and lecturer at the Chopin University of Music in Warsaw.