Fans of Polish fin de siècle composer Karol Szymanowski are likely to warmly embrace this disc by Antoni Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic. Wit and the Polish musicians deliver energetically conducted, enthusiastically played, and thoroughly persuasive performances of his relatively frequently recorded ballet pantomime Harnasie and pantomime Mandragora, plus the infrequently performed incidental music to Act V of Prince Potemkin. Wit has long been acknowledged as one of Poland's finest conductors, and his association with Szymanowski's music is extended and honorable. He shapes the folk-like Harnasie into a convincing whole, holds the more phantasmagorical Mandragora together despite its discursive nature, and gives Prince Potemkin a sharply pointed interpretation that makes the best case for the brief work. As always, the Warsaw Philharmonic plays quite well; though perhaps not the most polished of the big European orchestras, it still digs into this music with a commitment that is hard to fault. Two of the three vocal soloists are impressive, but tenor Wieslaw Ochman sometimes sounds a bit tired. Naxos' digital sound is more than functionally, if less than entirely, effective in projecting the scores' colors and intricacies.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Harnasie (The Highland Robbers), ballet pantomime for tenor, chorus & orchestra, Op. 55, M68|
|Mandragora, ballet pantomime, Op. 43, M45|