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Cat. No. CHSA 5115 Price: £9.2 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5115 - Szymanowski: Orchestral Works, Volume V
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Available From: 01 January 2013
Szymanowski: Orchestral Works, Volume V

This recording of orchestral works by Karol Szymanowski form part of the Polish Music series on Chandos, and is performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner. These performers have impressed in their Lutoslawski survey, which is part of the same series; in a review of volume 1, Gramophone described them as a veritable ‘dream team’. 

 
Symphony No. 2 by Szymanowski is a work of great power and ingenuity, with many passionate and varied contrasts in its use of solo instruments. Composed in 1909 – 10, it is widely considered the greatest orchestral work of the composer’s early period, not to mention one of the most important Polish symphonic compositions to date. Szymanowski himself thought very highly of it, and in August 1911 wrote in a letter to his fellow Polish composer Zdzislaw Jachimecki: ‘How happy I am that this Symphony impressed you as I had wanted. I will frankly admit that I feel somewhat proud about its value. In some miraculous way I have managed during my work on it to resist all those garish phantoms which seduce “young and inexperienced” artists and to produce pure and uncompromising beauty in the way I personally understand it.’ 
 
The internationally acclaimed pianist Louis Lortie joins the orchestra and conductor in Symphony No. 4 of 1932, which the composer subtitled ‘Symphonie concertante’ in recognition of the near-soloistic role played by the pianist. Whereas Szymanowski’s early and middle works clearly reflect Wagner, Strauss, and Scriabin, this work is strongly influenced by Prokofiev, particularly in the finale, an agitated and daring movement reminiscent of the Russian composer’s Piano Concerto No. 3, composed about a decade earlier.  
 
Written in 1904 – 05 in a style recalling Wagner and Strauss, the Concert Overture is characterised by enormous expressiveness and gusto in the way it handles the expanding themes. Szymanowski inscribed the original score with part of the poem Witez Wlast by his friend Tadeusz Micinski: ‘I will not play you sad songs, O Shades! but will give you a triumph proud and fierce…’. This vivid imagery is perfectly in keeping with the music’s exuberant and vivacious character. 
Reviews

                      ***** - (Exceptional Disc)
Benedetto Ciranna - Musica magazine - September 2013

                        *** - Good Disc
Stéphane Friédérich - Classica magazine - April 2013

                   ***** - Very Good
 
Alain Steffen – Pizzicato magazine – May 2013
 

Music **** (Very Good)       Sound **** (Very Good)

Giselher Schubert – Fono Forum magazine – May 2013     

 "...The BBC Symphony Orchestra plays with great virtuosity and sensitivity, and the recorded sound is excellent its marriage of spaciousness and tangibility ... Edward Gardner displays a close affinity with this strange and often beautiful music, leading performances of passion, weight and clarity."
Ben Hogwood - ClassicalSource.com - 18 February 2013

                   Gramophone Choice
“... the changing face and manner of this most fascinating and accomplished of composers is richly chronicled here in characteristically impressive Chandos sound...”
 
Edward Seckerson – Gramophone magazine – March 2013
 

“...This brilliantly produced and performed Chandos anthology makes a persuasive case for this composer’s fragrant, big-hearted music. The best work here is the Fourth Symphony of 1932, a concertante work for piano and orchestra... Louis Lortie’s idiomatic piano solo is nicely integrates into the orchestral image and not unnaturally spotlit. And it’s a really attractive work with a wonderful last movement... The performance [Symphony no 2] is staggering, with the BBC SO taped in a suitably large-scale acoustic. Every gorgeous detail registers clearly under Edward Gardner’s generous direction.”
 
Graham Rickson – The ArtsDesk.com – 9 February 2013
 

                         Performance  *****               Recording *****
“... Chandos’s Muzyka Polska reaches impressive heights with this release spanning nearly three decades of Szymanowski’s music... the Concert Overture ... is an opulent piece, and Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra show how the composer was starting to find his own distinctive voice ...  the Second Symphony needs careful handling ... these performers prove ideal, finding luminosity at the opening, and delivering a taut, energetic fugal finale. The Fourth Symphony (1932) ... is a masterpiece of the composer’s late, folkloristic period, the work is launched by a languid piano solo that Louis Lortie plays with delicacy and freedom... Gardner shows how he has become one of the finest non-Polish interpreters of Szymanowski...”
 
John Allison – BBC Music magazine – March 2013
 

" Edward Gardner begins his Szymanowski survey for Chandos at the beginning, with the Polish composer’s first orchestral work, the Concert Overture Op 12. His gloriously broad and sweeping account of a work that reflects Szymanowski’s seemingly boundless admiration for Richard Strauss’s symphonic poems sets the tone for a disc that emphasises the composer’s late romantic affiliations rather than his modernist ones, especially with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on opulent form... "   ****
Andrew Clements - The Guardian - 25 January 2013

 "...Big toned yet poetic. Ehnes is a persausive interpreter."
Fiona Maddocks - The Observer - 20 January 2013

 "...Chandos continues its Polish series with a fine recording of two of his symphonies. No 2 is an early work, full of ecstatic climaxes, whereas No 4 is more restrained, with a prominent limpid piano part, delicately played by Louis Lortie..."
Paul Gent - The Telegraph 19 January 2013

 “... The capacious Symphony No 2 and the rousing Concert Overture have the spangled Bumptiousness of Richard Strauss, vividly projected in Gardner’s accounts with the BBC Symphony Orchestra... This [Symphony No 4) interpretation’s particularly magical and delicate, with sparkling playing from the solo pianist Louis Lorte. The first in a Szymanowski, series from Gardner and I’m already panting for volume 2 .”   ****
Geoff Brown – The Times – 12 January 2013

 

                 Performance *****      Sonics *****

“...most desirable issue and I eagerly await the next instalment in the series.”
 
Graham Williams – SACD.net – January 2013    
 

 "... With beautiful sound throughout, and authoritative notes by Adrian Thomas, this excellent disc can be recommended with enthusiasm - all concerned are splendid advocates of this wonderful music."
Nigel Simeone - International Record Review - January 2013

 

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