ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
KAROL SZYMANOWSKI - SYMPHONY NO. 2 & 3


KAROL SZYMANOWSKI - SYMPHONY NO. 2 - SYMPHONY NO. 3 - "SONG OF THE NIGHT" - ANTONI WIT (Conductor) - WARSAW PHILHARMONIC CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA -
NAXOS 8.570721


Szymanowski was a Polish composer who lived from 1882 to 1937, that very fertile period in music when influences were transmitted from one to another, to the benefit and enrichment of all. The young Szymanowski was very strongly influenced by Chopin's piano music, but as he matured, was drawn more and more into the sound worlds of Richard Strauss, Scriabin and Reger.

The Symphony No. 2, written in 1910, could very well be mistaken for a work by Richard Strauss. In fact, the opening movement is very much like Strauss in it's orchestration and harmonic orientations, and it's use of expansive thematic material and engaging, forward looking sense of momentum. The middle section which follows is built on a theme and a set of 6 ever-evolving variations, all of it leading to a bracing finale that finely caps the whole work with a muscular ending.

Composed only 5 years later, Symphony No. 3 presents a very different Szymanowski. One that is now much more confident of his own style and technique. It is based on a poem of a great medieval Persian mystic, and evokes the mysteries of a starlit Persian night. It is rich with Scriabin influenced mysticism in it's tonal colours, harmonic development, leading to oceans of sound with massive multi-layered waves that bathe everything in glorious sound (6:40 into the final movement is a great example). All of this expertly scored with perfect balance between all the forces involved, to create exotic and luxurious colours and sound textures blending into a stunning sound universe.

The Naxos recording again is first rate, more than adequate in capturing all of this glorious noise and laying it out in a well balanced, three dimensional soundscape. The conductor, Antoni Wit, delivers a captivating and commited reading of these difficult works.

{Antoni Wit has an exceptional talent for inhabiting a composer's sound world - Gramophone 5/08}

Jean-Yves Duperron