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Cat. No. CHAN 10298 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10298 - Karlowicz: Returning Waves/ A Sorrowful Tale/Episode at a Masquerade
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Available From: 10 October 2005
Karlowicz finished the first of his six symphonic poems, Returning Waves, in 1904. With it, he established the melancholy tone characteristic of much of his mature work. In accompanying notes he spoke of gazing at ‘lifeless ice crystals on the window pane’; a similar image was used by Turgenev, his favourite writer, in An Unhappy Girl, in which unrequited love leads the heroine to take her own life. Karlowicz’s subject is overwhelmed by memories of a young woman, the happiness she seemed to promise, and her eventual rejection of him. The composer was undoubtedly inspired in part by his own unhappy experiences. The work consists of an introduction and four main sections, including a waltz of hedonistic abandon with clear echoes of Richard Strauss, the one contemporary composer whom Karlowicz admired.

A Sorrowful Tale, an explicit portrayal of a suicidal state of mind, was composed in 1908, possibly in response to the suicide of the dramatist Jozafat Nowinski, for whom Karlowicz had provided incidental music for The White Dove. Though A Sorrowful Tale continues and ‘completes’ the narrative of Returning Waves, the final words of the programme and the subtitle – Preludes to Eternity – hint at the consolation of Nirvana already expressed in the composer’s Eternal Songs. In this work there is a move towards a more intense style that verges on the expressionistic, evident in extreme contrasts of tone-colour and the often tonally indeterminate and markedly dissonant idiom.

Work on Episode at a Masquerade started in February 1908 but was left unfinished at Karlowicz’s death. It was completed only in 1913 by the conductor and composer Grzegorz Fitelberg. According to Chybinski, the work concerned an encounter between former lovers in the midst of a ‘riotous, boisterous, Dionysian but banal’ masquerade. Painful recollections of their past love revive, and their feelings for one another are rekindled. Alas, they are ‘torn apart by the whirlwind of hideous ballroom activity’, and never meet again.
Reviews

The BBC Philharmonic’s playing and Chandos’s recording uphold their customary high standards…
Gramophone ‘Disc of the Month’ on CHAN 10171

The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra plays with typical musicianship and commitment for its dynamic conductor, and the recording is equally typical in being resonant and ripe.
International Record Review on CHAN 10171

…a must-hear experience for any admirer of late Romanticism.
BBC Music Magazine ‘Pick of the Month’ on CHAN 9986

He is an excellent conductor, and I can’t imagine better performances…
American Record Guide

 

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