Author Topic: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)  (Read 45149 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« on: April 14, 2007, 01:51:14 AM »

(Karol Szymanowski. A Life in Images ;))

A very good forum friend has asked me for some Szymanowski recommendations, so I decided it was time to restart this thread here.

Berfore I begin, let me point out this great composer's full name: Karol Maciej Szymanowski. ;) 8)

Also, let me salute Todd, who was the main promoter of this composer on the previous forum. He started no less than 3 topics there:
Król Roger
Sinae Lee Plays Szymanowski
Anderszewski Plays Szymanowski
(He has also already started a Szymanowski-related thread on this new forum: Potentially Good News for Szymanowski fans; EDIT another thread from Todd: Szymanowski's Songs; and I'd like to mention one of my own making: Polish Art Song - Chopin, Moniuszko, Karlowicz, Szymanowski and others)

And PefectWagnerite and Hammerklavier were right behind him, with 1 topic each:
Recommendations for Szymanowski's King Roger
Karol Szymanowski

Also, two of my Szymanowski uploads seem to be still available on rapidshare. They are both excellent, great, fantastic recordings, never released on CD (the first one is live, and mediocre sound quality). Snatch them up before they disappear!

Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 1 played by Wanda Wilkomirska:
[EDIT: link removed (file expired)]

Karol Szymanowski's Violin Sonata played by the legendary violinist Tadeusz Wroński (Wronski) and famous pianist Władysław Szpilman:
[EDIT: link removed (file expired)]

And now for a list of my favorite Szymanowski pieces:

Well, I love Król Roger (King Roger) best by far. It is my favorite opera, and I loved it even at a time when I couldn't abide opera. I don't have the words to describe my admiration for this piece - it's brilliant, a work of pure genius. One simply has to hear it!

I generally love all of Szymanowski's vocal writing, especially if it involves choir and/or orchestra (though his songs with piano accompaniment, and he has written a real lot of them, are usually wonderful too). Here two compositions are must-hears: Symphony No. 3 "Song of the Night" op. 27 (a masterpiece!), Stabat Mater op. 53 (number 2 on my favorite Szymanowski works list - another masterpiece!). And recently I have been completely infatuated with the six Kurpie Songs (as sung by the wonderful choir Camerata Silesia). Here I should also mention his great, energetic ballet Harnasie op. 55, which also involves quite a bit of singing. Other very worthwhile works in the vocal/orchestra genre: Love Songs of Hafiz op. 26, Demeter op. 37 bis, Litany to the Virgin Mary op. 59.

The orchestra works are another wonderful chapter of his writing. I already mentioned the 3rd Symphony. Symphony No. 4 (Sinfonia concertante) op. 60 for piano orchestra is another must-have (number 3 on my favorite Szymanowski works list ;)). The Symphony No. 2 op. 19 is an earlier work but the best of his "traditional" symphonies (ie. no solo piano or vocal parts ;)), and is considered by many the best work of this kind ever written in Poland. The two Violin Concertos (op. 35 and op. 61) are indispensable too. The 2nd gets played less often but it is just as good as the 1st.

He has also written some splendid violin and piano works. I especially like the Nocturne and Tarantella op. 28, and the Myths op. 30. And I should also mention his 2 String Quartets (op. 37 and op. 56) - fascinating, and quite unlike most of the quartets I've ever heard.

Finally, his solo piano music is quite fantastic, especially the Mazurkas (op. 50 and op. 62), a cycle called Metopes op. 29, and one called Masques op. 34.

This may seem like a lot, so I let me list what I think is indispensable (the order reflects my current feelings but I'm sure others would have a different one):
King Roger
Stabat Mater
Symphony No. 4
both Violin Concertos
Kurpie Songs
Symphony No. 3
the piano Mazurkas
Myths op. 30 for violin and piano
Harnasie op. 55

As for recordings, I'd especially recommend what has been released by CD Accord (excellent Violin Concertos with Kaja Danczowska, great violin and piano disc with Krzysztof Bąkowski, and my favorite recording of Król Roger) and Polskie Nagrania (most of their 6 volume set is OOP, but the Stabat Mater/3rd Symphony with Stefania Woytowicz and solo piano discs are still available).

I'm sure others will have many interesting things to say and many more great recordings to recommend...

Cheers,
Maciek

« Last Edit: August 01, 2010, 04:07:55 AM by Maciek »

Offline edward

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3684
  • Hello, little man. I will destroy you.
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2007, 03:39:49 AM »
Szymanowski's definitely one of my favourite early-20th-century composers, particularly in the works where the influence of goral folk music is a key element (ie: most of the later ones). In particular, his choral writing is absolutely outstanding.

Did you say excellent Violin Concertos with Kaja Danczowska? I adore her and Zimerman in Mythes, so there's one for the wishlist straight away.

My list of favourite Szymanowski is much the same as yours, except that I would definitely put Litany to the Virgin Mary at or near the very top of the list.

I've been interested for a while in improving my coverage of the orchestral song cycles: I have the Naxos (ex-Marco Polo) recording only, and would like alternatives in Love Songs of Hafiz, Songs of the Infatuated Muezzin and Songs of a Fairytale Princess, not to mention any recording of the orchestral Slopwenie.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2007, 03:45:31 AM »
Did you say excellent Violin Concertos with Kaja Danczowska?

Yes I did. :) Here's the cover:


Robert

  • Guest
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2007, 07:27:33 AM »


Thank you very much for this information....I guess you feel his string quartets is not one of his strong suits...

Robert

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2007, 09:12:45 AM »
Actually, on second thought I think I should have included the 2nd String Quartet in the essentials! Hmm, somewhere around the Mazurkas, I think...

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2007, 10:52:37 AM »
The 1st String Quartet, on the other hand, I find a bit... oversaturated...? I'm always exhausted after listening to the first movement! Great piece but very tiring (IMHO).

Robert

  • Guest
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2007, 11:08:08 AM »
Yes I did. :) Here's the cover:



On its way...Thank you Archiv music...

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2007, 01:41:52 AM »
André asked me about 3rd Symphony recordings yesterday. Here are two live performances recorded from webcasts. Don't remember how I recorded them exactly but sound is far from perfect (especially in the first one).

Karol Szymanowski Symphony No. 3 op. 27 "Song of the Night" for tenor/soprano, mixed choir and orchestra.

These two recordings are sung by sopranos which was Szymanowski's second choice. Unfortunately, for some reason tenors sing this piece much less often... :'( I feel tenor voice brings a lot of sensuality into the music and also blends in with the color of the orchestra much better. A soprano can be sensuous too, of course, but in a different way. And it tends to stand out from the texture a bit. But there are pros for soprano too...

1.
Iwona Sobotka soprano
National Philharmonic Choir
Sinfonia Varsovia
Jerzy Maksymiuk

EDIT: link removed

File-Size: 25,81 Mb

2.
Anna Lubanska soprano
Polish Radio Choir + Camerata Silesia
PNRSO
Kazimierz Kord

EDIT: link removed

File-Size: 41,96 Mb

Maciek
« Last Edit: July 19, 2007, 02:11:16 PM by Maciek »

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 16772
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2007, 04:01:30 AM »
I've not yet heard Song of the Night with anything other than a tenor.  Now I'm intrigued - must investigate further.  Thanks, MrOsa.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline SonicMan46

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 12595
  • Location: North Carolina
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2007, 07:46:13 AM »
Maciek - thanks for re-starting a thread on this composer - I already have just over a half dozen discs of his works (nearly all instrumental except for the Stabat Mater), but I was curious about obtaining some more solo piano works - have 2 Naxos discs w/ Roscoe Martin, but just saw this Nimbus offering below on 4 CDs w/ Martin Jones - good price at the Marketplace; so for all, just wondering what the thoughts might be on this set - thanks.  :D


Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 16772
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2007, 07:50:05 AM »
but just saw this Nimbus offering below on 4 CDs w/ Martin Jones - good price at the Marketplace; so for all, just wondering what the thoughts might be on this set - thanks.


It's a reasoanbly good set, but the sound leaves something to be desired.  It's got that Nimbus ultra-resonant sound.

Better than either Martin is Sinae Lee.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline SonicMan46

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 12595
  • Location: North Carolina
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2007, 08:02:32 AM »
It's a reasoanbly good set, but the sound leaves something to be desired.  It's got that Nimbus ultra-resonant sound.

Better than either Martin is Sinae Lee.

Todd - thanks for the link - don't know how I had missed that one - will certainly put her on my wish list!  :D

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2007, 10:32:47 AM »
I've not yet heard Song of the Night with anything other than a tenor.

Well, good for you, Todd! The score I have reads "for tenor, choir and orchestra". No mention of soprano. Yet almost all of the recordings I've ever heard featured soprano instead of tenor. In fact, I've only heard the Symphony performed by a tenor twice, and these were both live performances! And the difference (at least for me) is striking - the music really fits a tenor better. Though I'm not really orthodox in that matter - I feel some of the soprano performances are also excellent.

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2007, 10:35:03 AM »
Maciek - thanks for re-starting a thread on this composer - I already have just over a half dozen discs of his works (nearly all instrumental except for the Stabat Mater)

Thanks, Dave. Do check out the 2 radio recordings I linked to in my first post. The Wilkomirska is in poor sound but the Wronski is better, and the performance itself is striking - the most exciting reading of the Sonata I've heard so far.

karlhenning

  • Guest
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2007, 10:36:08 AM »
The 1st String Quartet, on the other hand, I find a bit... oversaturated...? I'm always exhausted after listening to the first movement! Great piece but very tiring (IMHO).

Don't know the quartet, and so I cannot speak to it, specifically.

But there are certainly works from the last quarter of the 19th century, and first quarter of the twentieth, which (whether or not I like them, and I just may) are an exhausting listen.

Heck, I'd say that of Moses und Aron.

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2007, 10:40:55 AM »
there are certainly works from the last quarter of the 19th century, and first quarter of the twentieth, which (whether or not I like them, and I just may) are an exhausting listen.

Yeah, it's very much a thing of those times - the way the music is often so intense and sensuous, it tends to become a bit too much for some listeners (such as myself ;D).

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2007, 02:49:52 AM »
Fascinating. I read the introduction to the score yesterday - no mention of a soprano. I looked through the notes - same thing. However, the first page of the score contains instructions (from the composer) on performing the piece without the chorus! (Some of the bars should be left out.) So now I'm wondering: at what point exactly did Szymanowski allow a soprano to be used?

Re Szymanowski's piano pieces, has anyone heard this set?


PR CD 111-114
Jerzy Godziszewski - Karol Szymanowski complete piano works (4 CDs)

This was released in 1997 or 98 and, according to info I found on the internet, was the first complete CD recording of Szymanowski's piano works ever. It received several prizes here but I haven't heard this set. I wonder if it's worth seeking out (it's OOP)?

Maciek

johnQpublic

  • Guest
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2007, 03:34:15 AM »
However, the first page of the score contains instructions (from the composer) on performing the piece without the chorus! (Some of the bars should be left out.)

I can sympathize with a composer who thinks about practicalities to produce more performances,  but I really can't envision ever wanting to hear this sympony sans chorus. They add so much heady perfume to the score.

Offline SonicMan46

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 12595
  • Location: North Carolina
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2007, 11:50:11 AM »

It's a reasoanbly good set, but the sound leaves something to be desired.  It's got that Nimbus ultra-resonant sound.

Better than either Martin is Sinae Lee.

Todd - thanks for the recommendation above, i.e. the 4-CD Sinae Lee set - shown below - follow Todd's link above for his own extensive & excellent review of this compilation; can't say that I like all of Szymanowski's piano writing (it is quite varied, somewhat like I've found w/ Bartok, at least for my ears), but these are certainly performed & recorded superbly by a pianist whose PhD work is specifically on this composer's piano music - hard to beat that combo!  :D


Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2007, 02:14:10 PM »
From a concert that took place on June 20th in Dresden:

An interesting interpretation. Though if you ask me, there it's far too "objective", without the mad passion this music requires.

Karol Szymanowski Violin Concerto No. 1
Christian Tetzlaff
Philharmonic Orchestra of Helsinki
Leif Segerstam

DownloadLink: http://rapidshare.com/files/43891820/Szymanowski_Karol_I_Koncert_skrzypcowy_op_35_OF_w_Helsinkach_Christian_Tetzlaff_Leif_Segerstam.mp3
File-Size: 35,40 MB