Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

The complete symphonic poems
CD1 [61.57]
Returning Waves (1904) [25.15]
Eternal Songs (1907) [25.44]
A Sorrowful Tale - Preludes to Eternity (1908) [10.57]
CD2 [68.29]
Lithuanian Rhapsody (1906) [20.17]
Stanislav and Anna Oswieczin (1912) [22.33]
Episode during a Masquerade (1908-9) [25.37]
Silesian State PO/Jerzi Salwarowski
rec Katowice, 8 Dec 1981, 11-13 June 1983.
recorded with financial assistance from Ministerswa Kultury i Sztuki
DUX 0132-33 [61.57+68.29]

Ordering details





Karlowicz was born in the Polish province of Vilna. His father, Jan was a Polish historian, Ethnologist and musician. At Warsaw he studied with Noskowski (another composer well worth exploring) and in Berlin with Urban. From 1906 to 1907 he was one of Nikisch's conducting pupils. He loved the high places as much as Vitezslav Novak and Frederic Delius and tragically met his end skiing in the Tatra Mountains engulfed by an avalanche.


This is a two disc set. You may remember it from its brief existence as a Chant du Monde box back in the very early 1990s. I recall, somewhat regretfully, passing it by then as I wandered around the HMV shop on Oxford Street. It soon fell victim to the grim deletions scythe. As a used item it is not at all a common set. It is a cause of celebration that the set is now back in currency albeit requiring an order to Poland.

The set is significant because Salwarowski has become to Karlowicz what Beecham became to Delius, Boult to Vaughan Williams, Handley to Bax. The two were not contemporaries but Salwarowski's identity with his countryman is undeniable. Full background on Salwarowski's dedication to KarÓ owicz's cause is given in the note appended to this review. I am grateful to the conductor for sharing his thoughts with us.

What of Karlowicz's music then? It is emotional, with a gloomy Tchaikovskian stripe caught up in a riptide of marmoreal late romanticism. There is something of the Nordic psychological make-up about this music. It traces its origins among the waters of Balakirev's Tamara, Nystroem's Arctic Ocean (yes, I know that came much later) and Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead.

I was captivated by this music from the moment when I heard a broadcast of Konstanty Kulka's warmly opulent performance of the Violin Concerto (Polish Radio and TVSO/Krzystof Missona). Among neglected violin concertos this a very superior and indelibly memorable article comparable with the de Boeck and the Ivanovs concertos. Later I acquired Kulka's earlier (1979) recording on Olympia OCD 304 (coupled with the Revival Symphony). This led on to my hearing a stunning 1981 broadcast with Rozhdestvensky conducting the Chicago SO in the symphonic poem Eternal Songs. After this I needed little inducement to snap up Olympia OCD 307 (Eternal Songs, Stanislaw, a swoopingly uproarious Episode during a Masquerade, 1965 analogue recordings by Stanislaw Wislocki conducting the Warsaw National SO) and OCD 389 (the Froissart-like White Dove music conducted by Witold Rowicki). Needless to say the three Olympias have now disappeared from the lists. They are much older recordings though vivid and well worth picking up if you see them second-hand. There is a Thorofon CD of one of the tone poems and the violin concerto but I have not heard this nor have I heard a collection of his songs on another CD.

Written on the Adriatic coast Recurring Waves is based on a story by Turgenev. Its grand washes and general mien recalled Sibelius 1 and Louis Glass's exuberant Fifth Symphony. The recurrent trumpet motif has a virile confidence suggesting Scriabin's Ecstasy or Fire. The horns have a tendency to roll in Korngoldian glory and the occasional ardent glance is cast towards Tchaikovsky's great example (at 16.38 Piano Concerto No 1; at other times Francesca and Pathétique). Shreds and tatters of Eulenspiegel also cross the landscape as does the exoticism of Dukas's La Péri.

Eternal Songs is a big symphonic triptych. It was premiered with Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Grzegorz Fitelberg on 21 March 1907. Again this is ripe, discursive, doom-laden music with an exultant proliferation of line recognisable from Szymanowski's Concert Overture and Schoenberg's Pelleas. The soundworld is natural and unglamorous. The last panel opens with a Brucknerian spring in its step. The Sorrowful Tale is saturated with dreamy passion-prone sentiment and a despair taken from the finale of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique. The Katowice-based orchestra are excellent throughout the set though the music would have benefited from a greater luxuriance from the strings.

The second disc opens with the Lithuanian Rhapsody. This is dark and Baltic in 'look and feel': Balakirev's Tamara crossed with Sibelius's En Saga. The music rises from minor chord gloom to a subdued light sallowly lit by birdsong (à la Nightride and Sunrise). It is all lovingly shaped by Salwarowski who also delves into a lighter Slavonic folksiness when the score implies it. Lovers of Bax's Spring Fire will appreciate the dewy luxuriance at 13.08 and at 14.24 the impact and flurried fall of the flute. The work ends in high violin harmonics and the same musing winds that caress Delius's Song of the High Hills.

The Stanislaw poem, while starting bright and positive, soon veers into darker meres. The sweet oboe line (2.24) and the warmly-shaped Odysseyan home-coming of the strings (4.02) do little to dispel minor key mood. Suk's Asrael inhabits the same shadow as do the darker pages of Vitezslav Novak's tone poems. It is a rhapsodic work but the rhapsody is a dark one like the disconcerting rustlings and shudders of Bax's Second Symphony and Miaskovsky's Seventh. There is an epic march at 18.13, a Scriabin-like role for the trumpets and that resentful slightly catastrophic oppressiveness.

The Episode from a Masquerade is no jolly dance fantasy. Rather it leans towards a discursive psychological plot recalling Edvard Munch's 'Dance of Life' with its message of exclusion and loneliness. That said it has its effervescent Rosenkavalier-like moments touched with Korngold's exultant vortex, Stravinsky's Firebird, Tchaikovskian horns (12.03), Bantockian Pre-Raphaelite tendencies, a Baxian harp beat (15.33) and an excitable call to the dance (early Szymanowski again). The work was completed by Karlowicz's contemporary champion Grzegorz Fitelberg.

The very full notes are in Polish and English. The set is presented in a double thickness case.

Truly a dark and secret joy.

Rob Barnett


The set is available from the conductor who can accept orders by fax: +48322018193, or by e-mail

The price, including postage is €30 for " Karlowicz Symphonic Poems", and €20 for the "Famous Caprices". Payable to GBG BANK, Katowice, account number: 15601108-714691-2700-217874, Jerzy Salwarowski.

Salwarowski conducts the Szczecin Philharmonic SO (which also bears Karlowicz's name) in a collection of Famous Caprices. These are Lutoslawski's Paganini Variations (Jaroslaw Drzewiecki, piano), Rachmaninov's Paganini Rhapsody (Tatiana Szebanova, piano) together with the well known Caprices of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky. These are all done with considerable style and no little élan without being specially remarkable as interpretations. For completists. It plays for 67.13 and is a co-production with Radio Szczecin on DUX 0105. I would like to hear a modern recording of Salwarowski directing the Karlowicz Symphony and Violin Concerto. Still more would it be good to have him directing the Noskowski symphonies.


Since my youth I have been in love with Karlowicz 's music. I was born in Cracow in 1946 and later I studied there. I have also visited the nearby Tatra mountains many times, where the composer lived near the end of his short life. Underestimated during his life, and later overwhelmed by Szymanowski's works, his music was not popularised. After the World War 2, only Szymanowski was promoted again, and also young Polish composers. Karlowicz was blamed (in my opinion, unjustly) for imitating Wagner and R. Strauss; his music was even said to be "cinematic"

After I won the Hungarian TV Competition for Conductors, I was presented with an offer of recording something attractive among Polish music. I knew, that nobody had recorded the complete Karlowicz Poems up till then; and so I offered the music which was very special to me. The offer had been accepted, the recordings with the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra took place and the recordings were published on vinyl LP record.

Some time later, the "Wifon" company sold the publishing rights to "Chant du Monde". After the change of political system in Poland, the mastertapes became property of Polish Radio, from which I bought them and later published the CDs through the "DUX" company.

In Poland, I constantly conduct all Karlowicz 's pieces, including the Serenade for the String Orchestra, the Ouverture "Bianca from Molena", and of course the Symphony and the Violin Concerto. I have also recorded the cycle of songs (originally for the voice and the piano, arranged for the orchestra by R. Bukowski). I also offer Karlowicz to my contacts abroad, but with little success. Nobody wants music that one does not know.

I have been asked by the "Polish Music Publishing" (PWM) to participate in the drawing up of the new edition of the Complete Karlowicz 's Works. The work is already in progress.

My career is developing steadily, but constantly. For the current season, I was invited by the Kiev Philharmonic, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, and by the Everett (Seattle) Symphony Orchestra. I often conduct in Germany, and in the Czech Republic. I constantly perform in Berlin with my Szczecin Symphony Orchestra. I am also a guest opera conductor.

I hold a conducting class at the Poznan Academy of Music, and I am also completing post graduate studies. The topic of my qualifying lecture is of course Karlowicz. I am ready to conduct Karlowicz, or any other music, anytime, anywhere. Jerzy Salwarowski


A distinguished Polish conductor. He was born in Cracow, where he graduated with honours from the Academy of Music where he studied composition under T. Machl and K. Penderecki, conducting under H. Czyz and K. Missona. He perfected his musical skills at the Chigiana Academy in Siena under F.Ferrara.

He is the winner of national and international competitions:
I and II Conductors Competition Katowice - the Music Critics Prize and Second Prize
International Conductors' Competition in Siena, Italy - First Prize
International Conductors' Competition in Budapest - Second Prize (the first one was not awarded)

He has conducted chamber and symphonic orchestras as well as opera performances in Europe, Asia, Africa and the USA. Since 1972 Salwarowski has worked as conductor and artistic manager for many Orchestras in Poland: in Opole, Katowice, National Radio Symphonic Orchestra, Silesian Opera, Pomeranian Orch. Bydgoszcz and Philh. Lublin.

At present (since 1996) Salwarowski has been working as the conductor and artistic manager of the Torun Chamber Orchestra and simultaneously as the artistic manager of the Philharmonic in Szczecin.

He holds the academic title of the first degree in symphonic and opera conducting, obtained at the Academy of Music in Warsaw.

Also he has successfully guest conducted at the National Opera Theatre Warsaw, Great Opera Theater Lodz, Baltic Opera Gdansk, Cracow Opera and Great Polish Opera Wroclaw.

Salwarowski has held many concert tours, including in guest capacity (Polish Chamber Philh. in Germany, Benelux, Denmark; Silesian Opera in Italy, Germany; Baltic Opera in Germany, Holland; Polish Opera Wroclaw in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Norway; National Radio Orchestra in Austria, Italy, Spain; etc. etc.; as well as frequently conducting his own bands.

Cooperating with Polish Radio Orchestras Salwarowski has made numerous archival recordings. His contribution comprises many CDs for foreign (Amreco, Adda, Chant du Monde,Thorofon) and Polish (Tonpress, Selene, Wifon) firms . For Wifon he recorded (with A. Ratusinski and Philh. Katowice) an album of Gershwin's music and in 1993 he received the Gold Record Award for this recording.

With the Silesian Philh. Orch. Jerzy Salwarowski recorded M.Karlowicz's Symphonic Poems (compl). In 1999 this album was remastered on 2 CDs and had been nominated for -Fryderyk 99 prize (for CD artists & creators). He cooperates with the Polish Music Edition (PWM) by which he was commissioned to direct a new edition of Karlowicz's works.

Recently he recorded two CDs with Torun Chamber Orchestra - second one is monographic record Mendelssohn's music as well as a CD of Famous Caprices with the Szczecin Philh. Orch. (Czajkowski, Lutoslawski, Rachmaninov and Rimsky-Korsakov).

Lately, Jerzy Salwarowski has been giving successful concerts in Hamburg, Barcelona, Osaka, Skopje, Kair, and Porto, and the -Famous Caprices CD had been nominated for the -Fryderyk 98 prize.

His new field of artistic activity is the Summer Conducting Course in Torun (third edition summer 2000), and creation of -Torun Music and Architecture festival (4th edition summer 2000).

This year (2000) he has been invited to a permanent collaboration with the Great Theatre of National Opera in Warsaw, where he will be conducting Nabucco and Carmen.

He holds a Conducting Class in Poznan Academy of Music.

Reviews from previous months

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