Jacek Kaspszyk / Jerzy Semkow / Antoni Wit

Karol Szymanowski: Symphonies 2-4; Harnasie

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AllMusic Review by

A highly satisfying survey of Karol Szymanowski's late Romantic and Modernist works, this Gemini double-disc is a compilation of recordings originally made for EMI between 1974 and 1981. Szymanowski's development is chronologically traced in the orchestral music, commencing with bold strokes of Straussian color in the early Concert Overture and the ambitious Symphony No. 2; passing through the ambiguous tonality and mysterious timbres of the Symphony No. 3, "The Song of the Night," and the ballet pantomime Harnasie; and arriving at the efflorescence of his mature style in the Symphony No. 4, "Symphonie Concertante," a shimmering masterpiece for piano and orchestra. In all these works, Szymanowski's music is ornate and rich with atmosphere, and the performances here are outstanding. The Polish Radio Orchestra & Choir Krakow, conducted variously by Jacek Kaspszyk, Jerzy Semkov, and Antoni Wit, sound fully engaged, vibrant and dynamic; and pianist Piotr Paleczny, violinists Wojciech Musial and Wieslaw Kwasny, and tenors Wieslaw Ochman and Andrzej Bachleda are impressive soloists. The two Mazurkas and the Theme and Variations, performed by Felicja Blumental, are provided as filler at the end, yet these piano pieces contribute a few more details to Szymanowski's portrait, showing him as a witty miniaturist as well as a composer of visionary works.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Harnasie (The Highland Robbers), ballet pantomime for tenor, chorus & orchestra, Op. 55, M68
1 05:05
2 02:18
3 01:47
4 03:49
5 04:31
6 02:42
7 02:00
8 01:17
9 04:18
10 05:28
11 02:54
Symphony No. 4, for piano & orchestra ("Symphonie Concertante"), Op. 60, M70
12 09:49
13 07:54
14 06:40
Mazurkas (20) for piano, Op. 50, M56
15 01:21
16 02:11
17 10:20
blue highlight denotes track pick