Skip to content

Jakub Józef Orliński in Verbier: from Purcell to Karłowicz – Review

Of course it is delicious. He shoots devastating smiles and caressing glances. And that arouses a lot of emotion in the audience, on the women’s side and on the men’s side too… He may have put on the greyish costume of a notary’s clerk, he exudes a disturbing eroticism, physical as well as vocal. When he unbuttons his jacket, certain breaths are suspended… And when, after his opening air, he launches a “Hi! Verbier” mischievous, the church shudders (because this ceremony takes place at the Church of Verbier, an already torrid morning).

Wetness and vocalizations

The other eroticism, that of the voice, is just as obvious and the rest of this article will be less frivolous, as befits a site as worthy as Forumopera. Although the eroticism released by the voices and certain singers has been part of the fundamental pleasures of opera since the beginning.

Jakub Józef Orliński © Warner – Honorata Karapuda

It will be a resounding success that this recital of Jakub Jozef Orlinski in Verbier, a vocal demonstration capable of convincing certain recalcitrants (there are those who find it suspicious of being successful). And singing enthusiasts will be able to debate as far as the eye can see (or hear) the evolution of this very characteristic voice, which has widened considerably, which has gained in brilliance, richness, length, harmonics, and of this musicality which has gained in intensity, in sobriety, in seriousness.

His opening tune “Non t’amo per il ciel” by Johann Joseph Fux (excerpt from Il fonte della salute, aperto dalla grazia nel calvario ) is a beautiful demonstration, very different from the recording he gave of it on his CD Anima sacra. It’s a love romance on a slow walking rhythm, which he begins in a low voice and in the greatest suavity, in a pure style cantablebut from which he will take up the first stanza, giving it astonishing power and projection.

The low notes of a high voice

This art of varying colors, of vibrating such notes and not others, of constantly playing on dynamics, will be demonstrated in some emblematic pieces from the countertenor repertoire. Listening to his “Musick for a while”, we will have a thought for the dear Alfred Deller, so angelic and ethereal. Here the singer’s look can be almost diabolical for a moment and we have fun seeing him play on the word “drop” repeated many times. We notice his firepower, the fabric of the harmonics when he descends towards the lowest notes of his high voice, his way of stamping, the sovereign projection. And of course arabesques and insolent vocalizations sprinkled here and there.
We will love the little something impertinent that he slips into “Fairest Isle” and its elegant and charming ornaments, noticing in passing a richness of timbre that the microphones fail to capture – and this is very well so.

Before “Strike the viol”, with trills, volatin and others grupetti impeccable (and a note held interminably for the pleasure of the brio), we will have heard an exceptional “Cold song” (excerpt from king arthur), whose scholarly crescendo will rise to a chilling tension (necessarily chilling).
Later in the recital we will admire the garlands of trills, the glottal strokes, the sharp notes of “Your awful voice I hear” or in a very personal, almost pre-romantic reading of “If music be the food of love”. , the expressiveness of the ornaments, the animation of the speech and the color palette.

Jakub Józef Orliński © Warner Classics

All these demonstrations of mastery are in short the union minimum of the genre (here rather a maximum). The most surprising part of the recital will come next, including the latest CD by Jakub Józef Orliński, subtitled Farewellsgives an image, but only an image.

slavic soul

After announcing that it was a “world premiere” (a sigh of relief in the room) and that it was the first time that a countertenor had embarked on the “polish repertoire” that was to come, Jakub Józef Orliński in short, changed her voice to first perform “Pożegnania”, three very melancholy pieces by Henryk Czyż on poems by Pushkin. The title means “Farewell”.

The timbre suddenly expands, the vocal alchemy becomes even more mysterious, the lowest notes seem to be emitted in a mixed voice, in any case not only a whole world of new harmonics is glimpsed, but another art of singing . And another singer. Who, no doubt because he sings “in his family tree” (pardon this fatal cliché) gives his melodies their just weight of emotion.

The voice is sometimes pale, sometimes takes on painful colors to express the żalthis nostalgia, this pain, which is the Polish counterpart of the saudade Portuguese… We admire the simplicity of the musical line and the sincerity of the feeling.

Jakub Józef Orliński and Michal Biel © Warner – Honorata Karapuda

And it’s probably time to say how much his longtime musical partner Michal Biel is a wonderful pianist. If he makes virtuoso arpeggios flow from one end of the keyboard to the other in the second melody, “Na wzgórzach Gruzji – The hills of Georgia”, it is above all his softness of touch, his halftones, the climates that he suggests his way of suspending time in certain preludes or postludes, which are remarkable.

the ineffable żal

One and the other will again agree in feelings in some of the songs op. 3 by Mieczysław Karłowicz, some of a slightly sentimental lyricism that evokes Tchaikovsky like “Nie płacz nade mną – Don’t cry for me, my golden princess” or “Mów do mnie jeszcze – Speak to me again, from afar, from afar… or “Przed nocą wieczną – Before the eternal night, let your voice resound”.

Very simple melodies, immediately touching, long sentences that never go back on themselves (thus “Na spokojnym, ciemnym morzu – On the calm and dark sea” that Jakub Józef Orliński sings with as much delicacy as modesty).

between two genres

Many of these poems evoke a desire for death or disappearance into nothingness. To which the music adds no pathos, except a somewhat sad color, which we call Slavic.
There is no longer any concern in Jakub Józef Orliński’s singing to shine or adorn, but only a discreet emotion, a lot of sincerity and this strange tone, which is colored by darker reflections (more sensitive to the concert, we suggested, only in the CD released last May).

Romanticism again in “Lza – Tear” by Stanisław Moniuszko, bare lyricism based on a mastery of breathing, an art of the mid-voice and sometimes a rise to high notes, with disconcerting ease, with the impression that this strange stamp which certainly Moniuszko would not have thought of, this stamp gender neutralfurther accentuates the universality of the message.

An “Amen Alleluia” by Handel, a festival of trills, vocalizations, rolls, acrobatics from the zenith to the nadir of this voice, before dying on a pianississimowill lead to a wave of enamored applause to which Jakub Józef Orliński will respond with an extract from “Anima sacra”, and a host of frills capable of bringing the delirium to incandescence…

Despite this, it is perhaps the Polish sequence that will leave in memory the most disturbing-disturbing memory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.