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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Symphony No. 4 Symphony Concertante Op. 60 (1932) [23.08]
Violin Concerto No. 1 Op. 35 (1916) [25.08]
Mescal Wilson (piano)
Robert Zimansky (violin)
Janacek PO/Dennis Burkh
rec. Jan, May 1992, Vitkovice House of Culture, Czech Republic. DDD
CENTAUR CRC 2153 [62.54]



AVAILABILITY

in case of difficulty: www.centaurrecords.com

I have spent much time of late in the company of Centaur discs wanting to redress our comparative neglect of this label although truth to tell that neglect has never been complete.

Szymanowski merits a more refined soundscape than this recording and acoustic permitted. Although it sounds perfectly in the chamber textures it begins to sound opaque at anything approaching forte. This is a pity because the pacing of the Symphonie Concertante (the so-called fourth symphony) strikes me as pretty damn near perfect. There were many moments when I thought that I was hearing this piece properly for the first time. Truth to tell it has not been amongst my favourite Szymanowski pieces - and I am a Szymanowski enthusiast. The strings of the Janáček Phil under Dennis Burkh have a really fine legato at 5.43. Mescal Wilson plays a Bösendorfer Imperial. I liked her tetchy way with the first movement and her cushioned touch for the andante which takes Szymanowski into Schrecker/Zemlinsky territory. He looks back to the sultry dreams of the Third Symphony at 3.08. The nervy punch of the allegro is expertly delivered, uncompromised by softenings. The orchestra prove themselves adepts of the idiom: listen to the gritty ostinati near the start of the finale and the explosive Bartókian sign-off.

The Violin Concerto with its flittering Firebirdisms is done wondrously well with a close recording excellently catching Szymanowski’s warm Sapphic nights. One can see where the Song of Roxanne and other episodes in King Roger derive. I enjoyed this version of the concerto enormously and Zimansky is good. I urge you to hear this and not just for Zimansky either. This is, after all, a concerto for orchestra as well. While there are more illustrious (Juillet, Mordkovich, Kulka, Danczowska) and certainly more generous discs this version of the Concerto should not be lost in the torrent of new releases. After this experience I would have loved to have heard Zimansky in Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto - a work that few have mastered since Szigeti. I am sure that Zimansky would, on this showing, be a compelling contender.


Rob Barnett

 



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