Antoni Wit

Mieczyslaw Karlowicz: Symphonic Poems, Vol. 1

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AllMusic Review by James Leonard

While Polish composer Karol Szymanowski lived long enough to go through several style periods, his contemporary Mieczyslaw Karlowicz died in an avalanche in 1909 and thus had his development arrested in the mid fin de siècle. This disc, the first volume in Naxos' edition of Karlowicz's symphonic poems, is dedicated to the third, fourth, and sixth of his works in that form in brilliantly colorful performances by the Warsaw Philharmonic under the direction of Antoni Wit. For those fans of the fin de siècle who have not heard any of Karlowicz's music before, imagine Strauss' heroic themes touched with the sensuality of Scriabin and the melancholy of Tchaikovsky and draped in gaudy orchestrations. Wit treats the scores with all due respect and enthusiasm, and his control of line and form keeps their episodic developments in check. The Warsaw musicians respond to the music with barely concealed excitement, leaning hard into solos and moving as one in tuttis. Naxos' 2006 digital recordings are a little cool, but still clear and vibrant. Anyone interested in reaching deeper into the European fin de siècle composer will be gratified by this disc.

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