Chopin did not compose very many songs, around thirty or so, and he did not write all of them down, and so no more than twenty have come down
to us. Nevertheless, they are not an entirely marginal strand in the Chopin oeuvre, but rather a path running alongside the highway.
They may be regarded as documents and evidence of his private life, reflections of events, sensations and experiences, the notation of situations and states of mind that altered over the years. A kind of intimate journal. He did not write his songs to commission or for the stage. He himself chose the lyrics, through which he sometimes expressed his reactions to the world, to the course of history and to his own life.
Chopin composed all his songs to Polish verse by contemporary poets, nearly all of whom were well known to him. His friendships from Warsaw with the poets Stefan Witwicki and Bohdan Zaleski became closer and deeper in exile. Chopin turned to Witwicki’s Rustic Songs ten times; it was Witwicki who inclined him at first towards a rustic and early Romantic disposition, influencing the character of his early songs.
None of Chopin’s songs were performed on a concert platform during his lifetime.
He did not include any of them in his recitals. He heard only some of them, in ‘domestic’ situations, interpreted by his sister Ludwika, Maria Wodzi ska and Delfina Potocka. Olga Pasichnyk (Pasiecznik) performs the songs here, having debuted with the Warsaw Chamber Opera in 1992, and four years later with the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris as Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She is accompanied by Californian pianist Kevin Kenner, winner of the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the International Terence Judd Award in London, and third prize at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow.
Singer Mariusz Godlewski is also the laureate of many national competitions. In 2002, he made his debut at the Polish National Opera in Warsaw as Pelleas in
Debussy’s opera Pelleas et Melisande. He has appeared on many operatic stages in Poland and abroad and has performed under the baton of Valery Gergiev amongst others.