One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Mieczysław KARŁOWICZ (1876-1909)
Bianca da Molena - Symphonic prologue from Music for the White Dove, Op. 6 (incidental music to the play by Jozafat Nowinski) [11:11]
Serenade for String Orchestra in C major, Op. 2 (March; Romance; Waltz; Finale) [21:25]
'Rebirth' Symphony in E minor, Op. 7: (Andante; Andante non troppo; Vivace; Allegro maestoso) [39:45]
BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda
Rec: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester 8-10 October 2003
CHANDOS CHAN 10171 [72:45]


Karłowicz is a true late-romantic with his orchestral works adopting a big Wagnerian sound.

In the case of the present disc, the resonantly active acoustic of BBC Studio 7 in Manchester complements and enhances the Straussian luxury of the music. I say Strauss ... in fact there are also strong resonances of Elgar (Froissart, In the South). Listen to Bianca da Molena (in fact the Symphonic Prologue from Music for the White Dove) written in 1900. This is regal-tragic music sumptuously thundered out and ending in both tired repletion (Strauss's Don Juan) and glowing radiance.

The String Serenade moves away from grand passions into the realms of Dvořák's Serenade for Strings and Grieg's Holberg. This is urbane music painting the emotions in watercolours rather than glaring primaries. It is a winningly put-across mixture without quite the consummate witchery of its apparent models. A lovely piece though.

This disc has come out at about the same time as Hyperion's recording of the Karłowicz Violin Concerto. Both the concerto and Karłowicz's single Symphony are works written under the benevolent shadow of Tchaikovsky - the symphony more so. The Symphony is a substantial forty minute work in four movements. As Karłowicz authority Alistair Wightman points out in the Chandos notes, this work parallels Tchaikovsky's Fifth. It does so with considerable élan and is by no means a tired copy. It also reminded me occasionally of Scriabin's six movement First Symphony. The music is given startling bite and attack by Noseda. At the other end of the spectrum the violins of the BBCPO sing out richly, confounding the starveling reputation of radio orchestras' string sections. This is a big discursive work; in that sense rather like the Paderewski Symphony (recorded on both Dux and Hyperion) however the ideas are more memorable. Karłowicz's reputation rests on his psychological-philosophical tone poems which post-date both the concerto and the symphony. This Symphony stands on the cusp of full maturity yet its roots are psychological. The composer provided a full programmatic note (given extensively in the Chandos booklet) in which he explains that the four movements chart the travails and final triumph of the artist's soul; all very Nietzschean. The triumph rings out like an Imperial hymn rather than anything very personal. It is still effective despite the conventional ending.

This is not the work's first recording. There is at least one other. In 1988 Olympia issued OCD 304 an AAD transfer of Polskie Nagrania tapes of both the Violin Concerto and this Symphony. It was long ago deleted. There the symphony was played by the Pomeranian Symphony Orchestra of Bydgoszcz conducted by Bohdan Wodiczko. It had been recorded in 1973. Timings are pretty similar; Noseda: 39.45; Wodiczko: 41.05. Wodiczko delivers a tense and mordant performance with every creak and rustle reported by the faithful analogue recording. There is a fiery touch of Svetlanov about Wodiczko. The downside is the glassy patina of the Pomeranian violin sound. Chandos's naturally captured and cleanly voluptuous sound easily outpoints the Olympia.

A well-judged selection from Chandos. Noseda is a worthy successor to Tortelier who conducted the tone poems on Chandos's other Karłowicz disc (CHAN 9986 - review). This is, I think, even more of a success than the Tortelier disc. The programming of these three works in this sequence has the right emotional geometry. The overall effect will win many new friends to Karłowicz's cause.

Rob Barnett

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.