Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) CD 1
Violin Concerto No. 1 Op.35 (1916) [25:49]
Violin Concerto No. 2 Op.61 (1932-33) [22:24] Symphonie concertante Op.60 (Symphony No.4) (1933)
[24:18] CD 2
Symphony No.3 Op.27 'Song of the Night' (1914-16)
[24:48] Litania do Marii Panny Op.59 (1933) [9:26] Demeter Op.37b (1921) [7:53] Stabat Mater Op.53 (1926) [25:56]
Kulka (violin); Piotr Paleczny (piano); Wieslaw Ochman
(tenor); Jadwiga Gadulanka (soprano); Jadwiga Rappe
(mezzo); Andrzej Hiolski (baritone)
Polish Radio Chorus of Krakow
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra/Antoni Wit; Jerzy
Maksymiuk (Symphonies 3, 4)
rec. Polish Radio and Television Studios, Katowice, Poland,
September 1978, October 1979, November 1983. ADD, DDD EMI CLASSICS
2068702 [72:55 + 68:37]
profile of the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski is rapidly
rising; his music only just recently bursting onto the
scene, after being largely overlooked during his lifetime.
This disc from EMI is an excellent addition (or is it a
return?) to the catalogue, presenting some of his major works.
two-disc set opens with his two virtuosic violin
concertos. Both essentially
in one long movement, they were written for his close friend,
Kochanski, who was allowed to compose his own cadenza for
each. The first concerto is an ethereal work, with serene
spells of other-worldly music contrasted by more frenetic
passages and the odd burst of purely lyrical romanticism.
It could almost be film music depicting another planet!
The opening of the second concerto is at first gentle and
tender, before a more martial and petulant mood develops.
After going through some turbulence, the work ends in joyful
triumph – as a whole, it appears far more of this world
than the first concerto’s other-world. Both concertos are
performed radiantly, ecstatically, as soloist Konstanty
Kulka imbues them with passion, fire and spirit (he has
also recorded the same works for Naxos: 8.553685).
concertante concludes the first disc. It was written
for the composer as the solo pianist, and is counted
as his Fourth Symphony. The high-spirited first movement
is followed by a more lyrical movement, and the work
ends in a blaze of turbulence. Again, the performance
is of the highest quality - neither soloist Piotr Paleczny
nor the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra hold
Third Symphony Song of the Night opens the second
the disc. It was composed for chorus, tenor and orchestra,
and sets verses by the Sufi mystical poet Jalal ad Din
ar Rumi, in which “the beloved” is a metaphor for God,
the poem describing a night of spiritual union. It is a
passionate performance of an intense and beautiful work – the
tenor, Wieslaw Ochman, is deeply convincing, and the orchestra
and chorus are committed to a highly charged performance.
Litany to Virgin Mary is
a moving work of raw emotion, and is well sung by Jadwiga
Gadulanka. It is followed by Demeter with Jadwiga
Rappe the rich-voiced mezzo-soprano soloist. The disc
concludes with the Stabat mater of 1926 – an
atypically uncomplex work by Szymanowski’s standards,
but which still retains a characteristic searing beauty.
It is, again, excellently performed, with particularly
sensitive playing from the wind at the opening of the
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