Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Fri, 03 Dec 2021 03:22:06 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Karol Szymanowski - Hagith (Tomasz Szreder) Karol Szymanowski - Hagith (Tomasz Szreder)

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1. Scena I
2. Scena II
3. Scena III
4. Scena IV – Powrot (Back)

Adam Zdunikowski – tenor
Wioletta Chodowicz – soprano
Viktor Gorelikov – bass
Taras Ivaniv – tenor
Maciej Krzysztyniak – baritone

Choir and Orchestra of The Wroclaw Opera
Tomasz Szreder – conductor


It was in 1912 that Szymanowski made the first sketches of his one-act opera Hagith, a work dedicated to Prince Władysław Lubomirski, who supplied him with the libretto by his friend, Vienna-based writer Felix Dörmann. The score was ready in October 1913, yet the first performance did not take place until nine years later. On 13th May 1922 the opera, based on the Biblical story of King David (Old King) and the girl Abishag (Hagith), was performed at the Warsaw Grand Theatre, with Maria Mokrzycka, Ignacy Dygas and Stanisław Gruszczyński in solo parts and Emil Młynarski conducting.

The style of Hagith is that of German Expressionism, and there is a particular kinship with the music of Richard Strauss and his Salome, a fact pointed out by Szymanowski himself in a letter to Stefan Spiess: "I have found out that had I had an adequate libretto, I would feel an affinity with this opera. Unfortunately 'Hagith' runs absolutely contrary to my views and ideals, so I often adopt Strauss's style, something I find very upsetting."1

Szymanowski, who at the time of writing Hagith was already leaning towards new ideas and new style (he was sketching his 3rd Symphony 'Song of the Night' in the summer of 1914), clearly felt his opera a burden, what with its complicated, dissonant harmony, thick orchestral texture, expressiveness and drama. Hagith's piano score was published by Vienna's Universal Edition in 1920. No recording of the opera has ever been released, however, although the archives of the Polish Radio have recordings of two productions done in Katowice: one a radio adaptation from 1964, the other a Polish Television production from 1972. Both feature Teresa Gryboś, Roman Węgrzyn and Wiesław Ochman and the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio (WOSPR) under Kazimierz Kord. --- Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska,


This seems to be the only version of "Hagith" available at the moment. I cannot recall it being available in any form prior to this dvd issue of a live performance by The Wroclaw Opera. The principal singers are all possessed of strong voices (they need to be in order to rise above Szymanowski's often dense orchestral counterpoint) and one or two have a tendency to be strident; however this is probably the sort of timbre the composer had in mind and, as such, must be considered authentic.

The production has some oddities about it; costumes and sets suggest something vaguely 16th century (although I would guess the opera is meant to take place in a period considerably earlier) but the "props" include cigarettes and a lighter, a hypodermic syringe and a wheelchair....Why?? The music shows the influence of Strauss' Salome and the plot (apparently Szymanowski's own) is equally unpleasant; the old king is dying and unjustly accuses his son of desiring his death. A young maiden, Hagith, is brought to the palace in order to give the king a new lease of life by sleeping with him but she meets the young prince, who she's had her eye on for some time, and the two fall in love in the space of about five minutes warbling. When the time comes for her to do her duty by the king (who ain't a pretty sight) Hagith, not unnaturally, declines. The king attempts to rape her and expires from all the excitement. Hagith is then stoned to death for refusing to carry out orders and the late king's son appears on stage at the end of the opera just too late to rescue his adored one. If there is some deeper meaning to all of this I have, so far, failed to fathom it.

Anybody unfamiliar with Szymanowski's music would be advised to investigate "King Roger" - a much more rounded and successful opera than "Hagith" - rather than acquiring this dvd. However, although I cannot recall hearing the work before, I must say that the music interested me enough on this acquaintance to make me want to return to it in the near future and to get to know it better, so I would recommend this issue to any admirers of Szymanowski's music who might be considering its purchase. --- Israel Iskowitz,


Napisana w latach 1912-1913 Hagith wyrasta jeszcze całkowicie z ducha niemieckiego ekspresjonizmu, atmosferą zbliżając się najbardziej do Straussowskiej Salome. Szymanowski poszedł tu jednak dalej od Straussa, jeżeli idzie o skomplikowanie harmoniki i zagęszczenie faktury instrumentalnej oraz nasilenie nieprzerwanego emocjonalnego napięcia.

Być może te właśnie względy, przy pewnym braku doświadczenia młodego kompozytora, oraz fakt wybrania za tło libretta drastycznego tematu z biblijnej Księgi Królów – sprawiły, że opera Szymanowskiego nie zdobyła sobie sukcesu i popularności na które, projektując jej napisanie, liczył kompozytor.

Mimo usiłowań nie udało się wprowadzić Hagith na scenę wiedeńską, a wystawiona po wojnie w Warszawie nie utrzymała się w repertuarze. Wiosną 1962, w 25-lecie śmierci Karola Szymanowskiego, wznowiła ją Państwowa Opera Śląska, a w 1964 –Teatr Muzyczny w Krakowie. ---

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Thu, 27 Jun 2013 16:21:09 +0000
Karol Szymanowski - Harnasie, Ballet-Pantomime Op. 55 (1999) Karol Szymanowski - Harnasie, Ballet-Pantomime Op. 55 (1999)

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1. Harnasie

Orkiestra i Chór Filharmonii Narodowej w Warszawie
Kazimierz Kord - conductor


Karol Szymanowski, Harnasie (1923-1931): ballet-pantomime in three tableaux for solo tenor, mixed chorus and orchestra, to a script by the composer and Jerzy Mieczysław Rytard, Op. 55. Traces of Podhale folklore - from very slight to easily identifiable - are found in many of Szymanowski's works: the mazurkas, String Quartet No. 2, Symphony No. 4 'Symphonie Concertante', Violin Concerto No. 2, and also in Stabat Mater, and even in the Kurpie Songs. But the most obvious inspiration of highland music is present in the ballet Harnasie - in direct quotes, elements borrowed from folklore, or in the composer's own motifs and phrases.

Szymanowski's first impulse to think about creating such a piece came from contact with the music of Stravinsky in 1912. The ballets The Firebird, Petrushka and Le Sacre du Printemps were well-known by then. In 1913 Stravinsky himself presented his Wedding to Szymanowski in London. Finally, his contacts with Diaghilev's famous Ballets Russes prompted Szymanowski into more concrete action, and in 1922 he was in Zakopane collecting the first material for his ballet.

In 1923, a female highlander friend of Szymanowski's - Helena Gąsienica-Roj - was married to Jerzy Rytard. Szymanowski was the best man and performed all the duties linked to that role, such as inviting the guests to the wedding on the eve of the marriage, including drinking vodka at each invited person's home. The idea for his ballet finally crystallized at the Rytards' wedding. The Rytards took care of the script, developing the composer's detailed plan. Work on Harnasie lasted eight years, and the ballet was completed in 1931.

The script of Harnasie is a kind of mythological generalization of highland culture - the plot is symbolic, the characters have no names, they are simply "the Girl", "the Shepherd", "the Robber". The ballet comprises three tableaux - the third one is an epilogue, and Szymanowski was unsure what its character should be. Ultimately, he expanded the final scene of tableau two ending the work, giving the dancers the opportunity to show off their skills in a spectacular third tableau. Tableau I - In the Mountain Pasture - begins with the redyk (driving the sheep). One of the girls meets a highland stranger whom she later recognizes as a harnas - a robber. He confesses his love for her. Tableau II is the Girl's wedding. At the climax of the wedding fun, the highland robbers burst in - the stranger abducts the bride. Tableau III shows the lovers in a mountain pasture deep in the mountains, among the robbers.


Balet HARNASIE Szymanowskiego ma prostą fabułę - to historia góralskiej dziewczyny siłą wydanej za mąż za bogatego gazdę i uprowadzonej w czasie wesela przez jej uikochanego harnasia. Można ten balet uznać bezsprzecznie za dzieło genialne pod każdym względem. To pierwszy w historii muzyki polskiej utwór sceniczny w całości oparty na floklorze Podhala. Pierwszy również, który w tak doskonały sposób łączy w sobie elementy muzyki ludowej (dosłowne cytaty melodii góralskich) z indywidualnym stylem kompozytora. Szymanowski okazał się znakomitym znawcą specyfiki góralszczyzny i stworzył utwór o wspaniałej oprawie brzmieniowej, oryginalnych stylizacjach, utwór jednocześnie i dramatyczny, liryczny i ekspresyjny, niezwykle barwny. W utworze znalazły się tak znane motywy podhalańskie, jak pieśni W MUROWANEJ PIWNICY, czy EJ WOLNY, JO, WOLNY, JAKO PTOSEK POLNY. I trudno chyba dziś ocenić, czy bardziej popularne są rodzime śpiewy Podhalan, czy HARNASIE Szymanowskiego . ---

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Mon, 26 Oct 2009 14:21:24 +0000
Karol Szymanowski - King Roger (Stryja) [1998] Karol Szymanowski - King Roger (Stryja) [1998]

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1. Act I - In the Church: Hagios! Hagios! (Holy! Holy!) 00:02:34
2. Act I: Entry of the King and Court: Boze, poblogoslaw! (Lord, Be Gracious to Him!) 00:02:36
3. Act I: Czys styszal (What Do You Say) 00:04:00
4. Act I: The Shepherd Appears: Oto bluznierca! (Wretched Blasphemer!) 00:01:59
5. Act I: Moj Bog jest piekny (My God is Young and Handsome) 00:03:58
6. Act I: W jego usmiechu! (His Smiling Face!) 00:02:08
7. Act I: Twoj Bog! (Your God!) 00:01:40
8. Act I: Niech odejdzie Pasterz (He Must Go, the Shepherd) 00:05:26
9. Act II - The Inner Courtyard of the Palace - Introduction: Niepokoj bladych gwiazd (How Pale the Stars Shine) 00:04:12
10. Act II: Czy widziales jej oczu blask (Did You Not See the Brightness of His Eyes) 00:02:50
11. Act II: Cyt! Tamburyny brzecza (Listen! Tambourine and Zither) 00:04:51
12. Act II: Ktos mglisty przeszedl (A Shadow Passed There) 00:01:11
13. Act II: The Sheperd Appears 00:00:43
14. Act II: O przychodze sam (See, I Have Come to You) 00:04:20
15. Act II: A, uspij swoj lek i gniew (Ah, Set Aside Anger and Wrath) 00:02:36
16. Act II: We mnie wierza! (By Faith!) 00:00:51
17. Act II: Tajemnych glebin (With this Hand I Wake the Deep Secret) 00:02:42
18. Act II: Dance of the Sheperd's Followers 00:01:57
19. Act II: Entrance of Roxane: A - , A - (Chorus) 00:01:59
20. Act II: Soldiers Seize the Shepherd: Kto smie moj czar (Who Would Bind Me) 00:02:36
21. Act II: Sluchajcie ... W ciszy nocy (Hear ... in the Silence of the Night) 00:05:12


1. Act III - The Ruins of a Greek Theatre - Introduction: Wokol martwota glazow (Only Dead Stone Around) 00:06:36
2. Act III: Rogerze! Rogerze! (Roger! Roger!) 00:01:35
3. Act III: Na sad, na sad (Yield to Justice, King), Chorus 00:03:13
4. Act III: Slyszysz! Jeno cichy fletni spiew (Listen! Only the Sound of the Gentle Flute) 00:02:24
5. Act III: Rogerze! Rogerze! (Roger! Roger!) 00:04:57
6. Act III: Edrisi, juz swit! (Edrisi, day dawns!) 00:01:48
7. Act III: Slonce! Slonce! (The Sun! The Sun!) 00:02:25
8. Prince Potemkin: Incidental Music to Act V 00:10:19

King Roger - Andrzej Hiolski, baritone
Roksana - Barbara Zagórzanka, soprano
Pasterz - Wiesław Ochman, tenor Edrisi - Henryk Grychnik, tenor Archiereios - Leonard Andrzej Mroz, bass Dyakonissa - Anna Malewicz-Madley, contralto
Polish State Philharmonic Chorus & Orchestra
Karol Stryja


As Nietzsche gave up the ghost on August 25, 1900, a generation was discovering itself in his vision of the Übermensch -- including composers Delius (Eine Messe des Lebens), Mahler (Symphony No. 1, "Titan"), Busoni (Doktor Faust), Richard Strauss (Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben), and Scriabin (Symphony No. 3, "Divine Poem," Prometheus -- Poem of Fire). Though the works of Strauss and Scriabin were close models for Szymanowski's early compositions, he absorbed Nietzsche more thoroughly than either of them. Through the war years, Szymanowski explored what Nietzsche had identified as the Dionysian pole of human experience -- Eros, ecstasy, intoxication, the chthonic -- in such works as the Masques for piano, the Symphony No. 3, "Song of the Night," and the Violin Concerto No. 1. When his cousin, poet Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, proposed in June 1918 a libretto to be written around "the initiation of the hero...into the Dionysian mysteries...against the background of the ruins of the theatre at Syracuse or Segesta," Szymanowski was enthusiastic, embracing the idea as a way of making his preoccupations articulate, explicit, and testamentary. Euripides' Bacchae provided a point of reference, though the libretto was spun around twelfth century King Roger II of Sicily (1095-1154), both for the cultural crossroads suggested -- Byzantine, Arabic, Greek, European -- and scenic effect ("...the Byzantine-Arabic palace interiors would be perfect," Szymanowski wrote. "Just imagine: tarnished gold and rigid patterns of mosaics as background, or Moorish filigree...."). Despite Iwaszkiewicz's rapid loss of interest and piecemeal delivery of the libretto, Szymanowski composed the first two acts of King Roger between 1918 and 1923. Meanwhile, having welcomed Poland's independence and taken up residence in Warsaw at the end of 1919, he became deeply identified with the creation of an ancestrally rooted, modern, specifically Polish music, for which he found inspiration in the raucously eloquent folk music of the Tatra mountains. Subjective concerns were supplanted by responsibility, with a new emphasis on the Apollonian pole of Nietzsche's philosophy, which Szymanowski tried to incorporate in King Roger, rewriting the libretto of Act Three in 1921. He failed to find, in T.S. Eliot's phrase, the "objective correlative" for the new viewpoint -- Roger's final monologue remains dramatically and musically unconvincing -- but realizing that a large portion of his most powerful music lay in King Roger, he forced himself to finish it with rising irritation. To Zofia Kochanska he wrote on August 12, 1924, "I am terribly tired, because that bit of the third act which remained to be done is a real instrumental-contrapuntal hocus-pocus, so unfortunately I am not sure that I have extricated myself from it with honour!" The self-parodying third act aside, King Roger is Szymanowski's largest and richest score -- subtle, grand, glowing, and evocative of an archetypal dimension that places it among such other testaments in music as Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, Berg's Lulu, Pfitzner's Palestrina, Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, and Busoni's Doktor Faust. The premiere was given at Warsaw's Teatr Wielki on June 19, 1926, conducted by Emil Mlynarski, with Szymanowski's sister, Stanislawa Szymanowska, taking the part of Roxana. ---Adrian Corleonis, Rovi


Król Roger jest operą niezwykłą. Niezwykły był już sam poczęty w wyobraźni kompozytora i z mistrzostwem przez Jarosława Iwaszkiewicza zrealizowany pomysł libretta, które czyniąc miejscem akcji średniowieczną Sycylię, splata atmosferę surowego ascetyzmu wczesnego chrześcijaństwa z barwnym i tajemniczym światem kultury arabsko-bizantyjskiej oraz z kultem wysublimowanego erotyzmu i radości życia (ucieleśnionej w postaci Pasterza, przemieniajścego się następnie w greckiego boga Dionizosa). Niezwykły był stopień żarliwości i osobistego zaangażowania twórcy, dla którego Król Roger miał stać się nie tylko wielkim osiągnięciem czysto artystycznej natury, ale także rozwiązaniem wielu osobistych problemów psychicznych i moralno-filozoficznych. Niezwykła wreszcie była sama muzyka, łącząca śmiałą nowoczesność z par excellence operową śpiewnością partii solowych i teatralną efektownością scen zespołowych.

Nie znalazł Król Roger kontynuatorów wśród polskich twórców, trudno też znależć dlań bezpośrednich prekursorów w muzyce europejskiej; pozostał dziełem wspaniałym i samotnym.

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Mon, 14 Jun 2010 21:45:15 +0000
Karol Szymanowski - King Roger (Wodiczko) [1965] Karol Szymanowski - King Roger (Wodiczko) [1965]

1.Hagios, Hagios
2.Boze poblogoslaw
3.Czys slyszal
4.Oto bluznierca
5.Moj Bog jest
6.W jego usmiechu
7.Niech odejdzie Pasterz
9.Niepokoj bladych
10.Ach Roksana
11.Ktos mglisty
12.O, przychodze
13.Ach, uspij swoj
14.Tajemnych glebin
16.Ach, w radosnym
17.Kto smie moj
20.Wkolo martwa woda
21.Rogerze! Rogerze!
22.Na sad, na sad
23.Syc ofiarny
24.Edrisi, juz swit
25.Slonce, slonce

Hanna Rumowska - soprano 
Anna Malewicz-Madey - alto
Zdzisław Nikodem -tenor 
Kazimierz Pustelak - tenor
Andrzej Hiolski - baritone 
Marek Dabrowski –bas
Andrzej Bachleda - tenor 

Teatr Wielki w Warszawie
Bohdan Wodiczko - director


"King Roger" is a result of Karol Szymanowski's first visit to Sicily in 1923. The composer travelled with his friend, the painter, writer, and playwright Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, aka Witkacy.

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Mon, 26 Oct 2009 14:15:32 +0000
Karol Szymanowski - Piesni kurpiowskie (1997) Karol Szymanowski - Pieśni kurpiowskie (1997)

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1. Hej, wółki moje
2. A chtóz tam puka
3. Niech Jezus Chrystus bandzie pochwaluny
4. Bzicem kunia
5. Wyrzundzaj sie dziwce
6. Panie muzykancie prosim zagrać walca
7. Lecioły zórazie
8. Wysła burzycka
9. Uwoz mamo
10. U jeziorecka
11. A pod borem siwe kunie
12. Bzicem kunia
13. Ściani dumbek
14. Leć głosie po rosie
15. Zarzyj ze kuniu
16. Ciamna nocka, ciamna
17. Wysły rybki, wysły
18. Wsyscy przyjechali

Olga Pasiecznik - soprano
Jozsef Örmeny – piano

Camerata Silesia (Ensemble)
Anna Szostak – conductor


Zainteresowanie Szymanowskiego muzyką kurpiowską datuje się od 1928 roku, kiedy Teatr Płocki przedstawił w Warszawie widowisko ks. Władysława Skierkowskiego Wesele na Kurpiach (z muzyką i tańcami), a w sprzedaży ukazała się pierwsza część jego Puszczy Kurpiowskiej w pieśni. Według tego zbioru Szymanowski opracował najpierw sześć pieśni chóralnych (1928-29), później zaś po wydaniu pierwszego zeszytu drugiej części Puszczy kurpiowskiej powstało dwanaście Pieśni kurpiowskich na głos i fortepian op. 58 (1930-32). Szymanowski przywiązywał dużą wagę do uszeregowania pieśni, z czym ociągał się do ostatniej chwili. “Chciałbym – pisał do wydawcy – aby każdy z trzech zeszytów (po 4 pieśni) miał jakąś logiczną całość” (K. Szymanowski Korespondencja 2002, s. 151). O doborze utworów decydował rozwój swoistej dramaturgii, którą teksty słowne wyznaczyły dla całego cyklu i dla wyodrębnionych tematycznie części. Każdy z tych małych cykli wokalnych ma odrębny nastrój i koloryt dźwiękowy, wynikający z odmienności wątków fabularnych. Ponadto każdy z nich stoi pod znakiem innego symbolu, co nie jest obojętne dla opracowania muzycznego. ---

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Mon, 28 Oct 2013 16:57:05 +0000
Karol Szymanowski - Symphonies 2 & 3 (Dorati) [1990] Karol Szymanowski - Symphonies 2 & 3 (Dorati) [1990]

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Symphony no.3
1-Moderato assai
2-Vivace scherzando

Symphony no.2
4-Allegro moderato grzioso

Bartok: two pictures
6- In full flower
7- Village dance

Ryszard Karczykowski  - tenor
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Antal Dorati – conductor


Antal Doráti (1906 - 1988) was a Hungarian-born conductor and composer who became a naturalized American citizen in 1947. For many years his recordings were considered definitive, especially his performances and recordings of the works of Béla Bartók who was the composer's piano teacher. Returning to this recording made with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra reminds us of just how fine an interpreter of the lesser known works of the repertoire he was. In this very glorious recording of the Szymanowski Symphony No. 3 'The Song of the Night' he conducts not only the orchestra but also the Kenneth Jewell Chorale and the very distinguished (but almost unknown) tenor Ryszard Karczykowski whose rich and dramatic voice lends a sense of rapture to the symphony. This recording is superb and despite the fact that it dates back to 1980 the sound is elegant (it was recorded in the orchestra's United Artist's Auditorium in Detroit). Dorati lingers over the fluid passages of this work, bringing out the rich sonorities. There is touch of the choral writing heard in Schoenberg's 'Gurrelieder' and the Kenneth Jewell Chorale enunciates the Polish text well.

The same is true for the performance of the Symphony No. 2, a work that is so lush and lovely that it is difficult to understand why it is not a part of the repertoire of all symphony orchestras. It is only two movements and is under 30 minutes long, but what the composer did with the themes and variations is very secure and mature writing.

Dorati's identification with Bartók's music is honored here by a performance of 'Two Pictures' recorded in 1978. The first of these 'Pictures' is related to the glorious music of Bartók's opera, 'Bluebeard's Castle' - 'in full flower' evoking the composer's evocation of the miracles of nature and the second 'Picture' is Bartók at his finest with folk rhythms and dance music. Dorati leads very beautifully paced performances of these and his orchestra responds with a sound that is as lush as any orchestra's sound of that period! This is a recording to treasure. ---Grady Harp,

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Mon, 26 Oct 2009 14:24:09 +0000
Karol Szymanowski - Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 (1988) Karol Szymanowski - Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 (1988)

01. Symphony no. 1 in F minor, Op. 15 - 1. Allegro moderato    [0:11:03.22]
02. Symphony no. 1 in F minor, Op. 15 - 2. Finale    [0:09:33.53]
03. Symphony No 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 - 1. Allegro moderato. Grazioso    [0:13:20.00]
04. Symphony No 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 - 2. Lento    [0:12:01.45]
05. Symphony No 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 - 3. Fuga    [0:08:57.27]

Polish State Philharminic Katowice
Karol Stryja (Conductor)


Symphony No. 1 op. 15 (1906-07), although it grew out of the Straussian model (and is at times close to Wagner and Scriabin, has some original and bold moments. However, Szymanowski regarded it as an unsuccessful composition. Originally in three movements, it was finally performed – only once, on 26 March 1909, at the Warsaw Philharmonia, conducted by Fitelberg – as a two-part composition (Allegro pathetique, Allegretto), and then withdrawn by the composer. He did intend to do further work on it in the following years. Even though the first movement clearly contains ideas superior to the Concert Overture, Szymanowski disliked that Symphony even while he was writing it. “It will turn out to be some sort of contrapuntal-harmonic-orchestral monster,” – he fumed in a letter to A. Klechniowska dated 11 July 1906. ---


Szymanowski's Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 was first performed on April 7, 1911, in Warsaw, under the direction of Grzegorz Fitelberg. The piece was much more successful with both the public and critics than Szymanowski's First Symphony had been two years earlier, and, along with the Second Piano Sonata, it gave the composer his first real exposure in Europe.

Szymanowski composed the Second Symphony when he was beginning to escape the aesthetic hold of German culture; he would never again write a symphony in the traditional sense. Nevertheless, like all of his works up to the beginning of the First World War, it is infused with the language of German romanticism. Szymanowski's treatment of form is similar to that of Reger's, and his harmonic and melodic palettes are colored after Wagner and Richard Strauss. The orchestral sound is usually dense, as are the occasional polyphonic sections.

The first movement begins unconventionally, with a violin solo immediately stating the main theme; filled with expressive leaps and chromatic inflections, it immediately conjures the memory of Wagner. This sensual movement is filled with sweeping harp glissandi that, were it not for the harmonic background, would remind one of Debussy. The leaping, passionate main theme does not submit comfortably to the contrapuntal treatment Szymanowski puts it through in the development section; it seems much better suited to the variation process it undergoes in the second movement. The development climaxes over an extended pedal, building tension until the arrival of the recapitulation, in which there is a reprise of the developmental climax.

The second movement is a theme with variations that takes the place of the two central movements in the traditional symphony. On examination, the variations form into two groups that suggest, in turn, a slow movement and a scherzo. Szymanowski's variations are of the developing type, subjecting the theme to metamorphoses as might Brahms or Richard Strauss. The scherzo has three sections, the first of which is based on the theme of the preceding variations, the second on the main theme of the first movement, integrated with second-movement ideas.

The second movement moves without pause into the fugal finale, which has a non-fugal introduction. Material from earlier in the symphony informs each of the five fugue subjects. The counterpoint is so dense and deftly composed that one writer spoke of this movement as a "Dionysian orgy." ---John Palmer, Rovi


I Symfonia, która, choć wyrosła z wzorów straussowskich (a niekiedy bliska też Wagnerowi i Skriabinowi), nie pozbawiona jest momentów bardzo oryginalnych i śmiałych. Szymanowski uznał ją jednak za kompozycję nieudaną; początkowo 3-częściowa, została ostatecznie wykonana — jedyny raz, 26 III 1909 w Filharmonii Warszawskiej pod batutą Fitelberga — w wersji 2-częściowej (Allegro pathetique, Allegretto), po czym kompozytor ją wycofał, jakkolwiek w następnych latach miał zamiar ją jeszcze przerabiać. Mimo że I część wyraźnie przewyższa w pomysłach Uwerturę koncertową, Szymanowski nie lubił tej Symfonii już w trakcie pisania („będzie to jakieś monstrum kontrapunktyczno-harmoniczno-orkiestrowe” — zżymał się w liście do A. Klechniowskiej 11 VII 1906). ---


2. Symfonia op. 19 uznawana jest za najwybitniejsze dzieło orkiestrowe wczesnego okresu twórczości Karola Szymanowskiego (lat 1899-1913) i jedno z najważniejszych w historii polskiej symfoniki. Razem z powstałą w tym samym czasie 2. Sonatą fortepianową zamyka pierwszy etap w kształtowaniu się techniki kompozytorskiej Szymanowskiego i antycypuje dojrzałą twórczość, w której wyraźnie obecny jest już indywidualny styl kompozytora.

Zamiar skomponowania 2. Symfonii zrodził się u Szymanowskiego zaraz po napisaniu pierwszej, z której nie był on zadowolony. Pierwsze szkice dzieła powstały w kwietniu 1909 roku, a szkic całości - we wrześniu tego samego roku. Orkiestracja kompozycji trwała do końca 1910 roku.

Prawykonanie 2. Symfonii odbyło się 7 kwietnia 1911 roku na koncercie benefisowym Fitelberga w Filharmonii Warszawskiej.

Kompozycja zbudowana jest z dwóch części, w których ramy włączone zostały cztery tradycyjne ogniwa symfonii: I część to allegro sonatowe ze wstępem, a II część – temat z wariacjami, w którym zawarty został ustęp powolny (temat i pierwsze dwie wariacje), scherzo (scherzowa trzecia wariacja i kolejne dwie o charakterze gawota i menueta) oraz finał (ostatnia wariacja z fugą). Ponadto kompozytor scalił dzieło wspólnym materiałem motywicznym i tematycznym o podobnym klimacie emocjonalnym.

Sam kompozytor niezwykle wysoko cenił swoją 2.Symfonię. W liście z sierpnia 1911 roku do Zdzisława Jachimeckiego pisał:

"Jakże się cieszę, że ta 'Symfonia' na Panu takie wrażenie zrobiła, jak pragnąłem. Przyznam się szczerze, że jestem pod względem jej wartości nieco zarozumiały. Jakimś cudem chyba udało mi się w czasie pracy nad nią, nie ulec wszystkim pstrym mamidłom uwodzącym 'młodych a niedoświadczonych' artystów i dać czyste a bezkompromisowe piękno, jak je osobiście rozumiem. Toteż w czasie wykonywania jej w Warszawie z radością zauważyłem, iż niektórzy, więcej wrażliwi ludzie prawie z trudem oddychali tą czystą i zimną atmosferą, w której się wszystko dzieje tak jak powietrzem gór". --- Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska,

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Mon, 26 Oct 2009 14:22:29 +0000
Karol Szymanowski - Violin Concertos & Myths (Baiba Skride) (2013) Karol Szymanowski - Violin Concertos & Myths (Baiba Skride) (2013)

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Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35		24:38
1.Vivace assai	5:54
2.Tempo comodo - Andantino	5:26
3.Vivace scherzando		1:19
4.Poco meno - Allegretto	6:24
5.Vivace (Tempo I)		5:35

Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 61		19:42
6.Moderato, molto tranquillo	5:31
7.Andantino sostenuto		5:46
8.Allegramente, molto energico		3:33
9.Andantino, molto tranquillo	4:52

Szymanowski: Mythes, Op. 30, M. 29		21:10
10.No. 1. The Fountain of Arethusa	5:45
11.No. 2. Narcissus		7:41
12.No. 3. Dryads and Pan		7:44

Baiba Skride - violin
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (#1-9)
Vasily Petrenko - conductor (#1-9)
Lauma Skride - piano (#10-12)


Years ago it seemed that Szymanowski's music was the property of Polish musicians, as little of it ventured outside Poland. As to the violin concertos, it was Thomas Zehetmair with Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony who broke the mold for many of us. Their EMI recording still holds a special place in the recorded literature of the composer. Yet here we have a terrific violinist accompanied by an equally superb orchestra and conductor who easily challenges that recording.

Szymanowski dedicated both of these concertos to Polish violinist Paul Kochanski, who encouraged the composer to write them and championed them until his death in 1933. He worked closely with Szymanowski on the violin parts. The First Violin Concerto shows the influence of Debussy and early Stravinsky in its exotic and rather impressionistic nature. Szymanowski based the work on a poem by Tadeusz Miciński, "May Night", though without any detailed musical programme. It has a nocturne-like atmosphere when it begins and then grows into something dynamic and ecstatic before evaporating pianissimo, "as if with the muted voices of the night", so described by Sebastian Strauss in his excellent notes to the CD. Where Zehetmair and Rattle brought out the Debussian elements well in their recording, Skride and Petrenko are bolder and more dynamic. Skride has a vast range of colours in her violin tone and Petrenko provides very detailed accompaniment. Both violinists are well integrated with their orchestral counterparts, but with Skride and Petrenko the listener is more aware of the intricate detail of the composition. Some of this is due to the clearer and more present recording, but mostly it is the artists whose interpretative focus is different. Both are valid approaches to the First Violin Concerto. With Skride and Petrenko I am reminded of Stravinsky's Firebird, rather than Debussy. That's not to say that the unique character of Szymanowski is in the least slighted. The concertos represent the composer at his mature best. It is interesting that stylistically he did not travel all that far sixteen years later when he penned the Second Violin Concerto, even with its allusions to the folk music of the Tatra Mountains.

There is a lesser difference of approach in the two accounts of the Violin Concerto No. 2, where the folk elements are made apparent, even if the orchestral texture is dense at times. Nonetheless, Skride and Petrenko are that much bolder and the recording allows one to appreciate the orchestral part better than with Rattle. The Oslo Philharmonic plays wonderfully throughout both works and I continue to be hugely impressed with Vasily Petrenko whose selection of repertoire continues to bring out his strengths. I am a real fan of his Shostakovich and it is now hoped he will perform more Szymanowski. As for Baiba Skride, her recording two years earlier of the Frank Martin and Stravinsky violin concertos quickly has become one of my favourite discs - especially for the Martin work which had not received its due before that. I find it amazing how quietly Skride creeps in at the beginning of Szymanowski's First Violin Concerto with a silvery tone and then can turn this into something intense and lustrous later in that work and throughout the Second Violin Concerto. With her fabulous technique I am sure we will be hearing a great deal from her as she records pieces that demand to be heard, rather than doing only the warhorses on which so many violinists today have earned their reputations. Patricia Kopatchinskaja is another such violinist who has demonstrated that doing modern repertoire well enhances one's reputation more than just playing it safe with the chestnuts of the past.

If the two concertos on this disc were not enough to convince me of her extraordinary talent, Baiba Skride supplements these with the perfect "filler", the Myths for violin and piano. Here she is accompanied on the piano by her sister, Lauma. The three Myths with their titles of "The Fountain of Arethusa", "Narcissus" and "Dryads and Pan" respectively, are clearly impressionistic with piano writing that recalls Debussy in its delicate filigree. Szymanowski composed them the year before the Violin Concerto No. 1 and some of the violin writing, in particular the high register of the opening of "The Fountain of Arethusa", can also be found in the violin concerto. The harmony in the second Myth, "Narcissus", on the other hand, is also reminiscent of Ravel. The last of the Myths, "Dryads and Pan", is virtuosic and whimsical and sounds less like Debussy or Ravel - more like the Szymanowski of the concertos. I compared this recording with another favourite, the reissued disc of these works with Isabelle Faust and Ewa Kupiec on Harmonia Mundi that I reviewed here last year. Where Faust and Kupiec are more direct in their interpretation, the Skrides show greater tonal and dynamic variety. Their tempi are also varied more than the formers. There is not all that much in it and I would not want to be without either account. The deciding factor comes down to the particular couplings. Faust and Kupiec contribute first-rate performances of Janaček's Violin Sonata and Lutosławski's Partita and Subito on their CD.

For an all-Szymanowski programme, this current one will be hard to equal. Indeed, the artists have set a new standard for the violin concertos. Lauma Skride is as impressive in her role as her sister is, so a recording of Szymanowski's piano music would be welcome from her at any time.

I have reviewed many superb recordings this year, but none finer than this one. It should appear high on my list of Recordings of the Year. ---Leslie Wright,


Twórczość naszego kompozytora Karola Szymanowskiego rozprzestrzenia się na coraz większą skalę. Świadczy o tym między innymi powyższa płyta, na której możemy usłyszeć pierwsze dwa koncerty skrzypcowe w wykonaniu młodej, charyzmatycznej skrzypaczki, Baiby Skride. Album zamykają "Mity", które na fortepianie wykonuje Lauma Skride.

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Tue, 06 Aug 2019 15:09:36 +0000
Karol Szymanowski – Complete Works for Violin and Piano (2009) Karol Szymanowski – Complete Works for Violin and Piano (2009)

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1. Nocturne & Tarantella, Op. 28 - 1. Nocturne
2. Nocturne & Tarantella, Op. 28 - 2. Tarantella
3. Mythes, Op. 30 - #1 La Fontaine D'Aréthuse
4. Mythes, Op. 30 - #2 Narcisse
5. Mythes, Op. 30 - #3 Dryades & Pan
6. Romance In D, Op. 23
7. Violin Sonata In D Minor, Op. 9 - 1. Allegro Moderato: Patetico
8. Violin Sonata In D Minor, Op. 9 - 2. Andantino Tranquillo & Dolce
9. Violin Sonata In D Minor, Op. 9 - 3. Finale: Allegro Molto, Quasi Presto
10. 3 Paganini Caprices, Op. 40 - #1 Andante Dolcissimo (#20)
11. 3 Paganini Caprices, Op. 40 - #2 Adagio (#21)
12. 3 Paganini Caprices, Op. 40 - #3 Tema: Vivace (#24)
13. Lullaby, Op. 52, 'La Berceuse D'Aïtacho Enia'

Alina Ibragimova: violin
Cédric Tiberghien: piano


Alina Ibragimova has a wide-ranging concert repertoire of Baroque, Classical and Contemporary works. Interestingly though, her recordings to date are of rarely-performed twentieth century repertoire: her previous CDs for Hyperion have been concerti by Hartmann and Roslavets. It's been a smart move. She has produced discs worth having for their musical and historical interest, whilst the freshness of the repertoire sets off her extraordinary technique and powers of expression in glorious audio technicolour.

Polish composer Karol Szymanowski was born in 1882 and died in 1937. As Ibragimova’s latest disc demonstrates, his early music is influenced by the likes of Scriabin, Wagner and Reger. As time goes on, other influences creep in such as Sufism, the Orient and musical Impressionism, with dance rhythms a pre-occupation throughout his life. Ibragimova’s programme, although not in date order, is fascinating for its demonstration of this musical journey. The former influences pop up in the Opus 9 Violin Sonata in D minor of 1904. By Mythes (Op 30) of 1915, the Orient is well and truly at the forefront of his musical thought. Fast forward a further ten years to the Op.52 Berceuse of 1925 and, whilst similar influences are at work, they're presented more starkly, set within an unsettling tonality that creates an air of unease.

What is immediately striking about Ibragimova's playing is her formidable technique. The outer two movements of Mythes are particularly demanding for the violinist, jam-packed as they are with glissandi, double stops and lightening melodic runs. Ibragimova glides through them as though she were playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, with plenty of headspace left over to suffuse the melodic lines with spark, fire, and sweet warmth. Technical prowess aside, it's these other qualities that she brings to the music that are what give her performances of the Tarantella its zest and the Romance in D its lyricism. Cédric Tiberghien, a concert soloist in his own right, accompanies Ibragimova in an intuitive and expressive reading of both the music and the required relationship between the instruments. ---Charlotte Gardner,

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Mon, 14 Jun 2010 14:05:17 +0000
Karol Szymanowski – Harnasie-Mandragora-Concert Overture (1990) Karol Szymanowski – Harnasie-Mandragora-Concert Overture (1990)

1. Harnasie Op.55
2. Mandragora Op.43  Scene I i II
3. Mandragora Scene III
4. Etude for Orchestra in B flat minor Op.4 No.3

Polish State Philharmonic Chorus
Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra
Karol Stryja – conductor


Harnasie is a choral ballet with folk inspired songs and dances that can perhaps be best compared to Stravinsky's Les Noce (The Wedding). It has a similar enlivening sense of rhythm and some really fresh and appealing tunes. The only reason it isn't more popular, no doubt, is because it's hard to find a chorus comfortable singing in Polish. But that's why God invented records, right? Mandragora, by contrast, is a humorous commedia dell'arte play about the rescue of a shipwrecked heroine from the lecherous embrace of her would-be savior. These authentic performances give a good account of the music, and at budget price won't dent your wallet. --David Hurwitz,

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]]> (bluesever) Szymanowski Karol Mon, 26 Oct 2009 14:14:12 +0000