12 February - 16 February
I have been working alongside Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny for over ten years. She is a really an excellent musician, a very fine trainer of choirs and a wonderful and supportive colleague. We began working together in the early days of the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, which has now become the acclaimed NFM choir. From quite modest early days, Agnieszka soon built up a superb ensemble; her evident skills and huge commitment encouraged me to take a big risk the time – to suggest we combine this new choir with my own Gabrieli Consort and Players to record some of the major choral repertoire of the 19/20 centuries. We have now made four wonderful recordings together, which have since won major international awards, and a fifth is in planning. I was also able to assist Agnieszka in the formation of the Polish National Youth Choir, which has likewise developed into an outstanding choir. Agnieszka is a woman of huge talent, real seriousness, and a surprising modesty. To work with her is to quickly discern her hunger to get to heart of the music, and to open up new possibilities. It’s been a real privilege to work alongside her on many projects, and I should say that the artistic relationship we have shared is surely one of the most important in my career.
It is always a privilege to work with Agnieszka. Over the past few years we have collaborated on several choral projects and I admire the high level she is able to achieve with her singers. She is very demanding and a consummate professional and I know that she inspires everyone that is fortunate to work with her.
Agnieszka is an outstanding, versatile person, active in many fields. She is an excellent conductor, pedagogue and organiser. Together with the NFM Choir she has achieved a beautiful sound. Her interpretations always match my intentions.
Agnieszka has a unique gift – she can reach to the core of the composer’s intentions. That’s what I felt after hearing the great interpretation of my Pater noster, which was performed today for the first time in our country.
The performance benefitted from the superlative singing of the massed choruses. The opening, emerging from nothingness, was perfectly tuned and led to a glorious burst of sound. The firmness of the tone, not to mention its beauty, was absolutely remarkable, a universe away from the interminable wobble so many opera choruses subject us to. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine the work better sung. They had been exceptionally prepared by Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny.
The highlight of the oratorio – considering both the composition and the performance – was the chorus part performed by the NFM Choir and the PNYCh which sounded truly splendid. The singers demonstrated good vocal technique. They performed the motet and the imitation parts equally well (clear entries, good balance of the voices, adequate dynamics and perfectly comprehensible text). The ensembles also handled the illustrative fragments exceptionally well, for instance in the Demons’ choir in the second movement they convincingly portrayed chaos and fear residing in the pit of hell. I admire the effect achieved by the choirs greatly – the congratulations are well deserved. However, it is Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny who deserves much acclaim for the preparation of both Wrocław ensembles.