Author Topic: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)  (Read 54174 times)

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Offline Maciek

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2008, 03:11:56 AM »
I'm afraid I can't add much to the info you admirably managed to dig up. Szymanowski wrote a lengthy novel. His cousin, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (incidentally, a man incomparably more famous in Poland than Szymanowski and also a homosexual) kept the manuscript in his apartment in Warsaw. The manuscript (along with everything else, and that means many other manuscripts by both Iwaszkiewicz and other writers) burned down with the house. However, it later transpired that Szymanowski had given a Russian translation of a large part of the book to his 15-year old lover (? - possibly just friend), the dancer Boris Kochno - this translation was of Szymanowski's own making. It survived. What also survived is a detailed synopsis written by Iwaszkiewicz. This Russian translation (along with a translation back to Polish) was published in 1989 in the 2nd vol. of the Polish edition of Szymanowski's complete writings (this volume contains also 13 other pieces of Szymanowski's forays into literature). The German edition came later. I'm not aware of editions in any other language. The book itself is not of any great literary value - it is rather standard fare of its times, without much originality. Its main value lies in the fact that it was written by Szymanowski and supposedly describes some of his life and/or spiritual experiences.

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Offline Maciek

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #41 on: January 05, 2008, 03:14:15 AM »
Oh, and it is Grove that has the Polish musicologist's name right! It is Teresa Chylińska (or Chylinska without the diacriticals) - Poland's leading authority on Szymanowski (editor of his complete letters and other writings).

Offline Sydney Grew

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #42 on: January 05, 2008, 05:51:10 AM »
. . . This Russian translation (along with a translation back to Polish) was published in 1989 in the 2nd vol. of the Polish edition of Szymanowski's complete writings (this volume contains also 13 other pieces of Szymanowski's forays into literature). The German edition came later. I'm not aware of editions in any other language. The book itself is not of any great literary value - it is rather standard fare of its times, without much originality. Its main value lies in the fact that it was written by Szymanowski and supposedly describes some of his life and/or spiritual experiences.

As for your Mediafire problem: two possible solutions. 1. When the mediafire error page loads, try reloading the page (press F5). 2. If that doesn't work, you might have something wrong in your cookie settings. When the malfunctioning page loads, press F12, go to the site settings and enable everything you can in the cookie settings. Then try reloading the page again (F5). Please report back - I use Opera too and am not experiencing the problem, I'm sure there's a workaround!
Thank you so much Mr. Maciek - firstly for all the information, and secondly for the two Agawe versions, which I look forward to comparing in some detail. The mediafire business is now working - I noticed a browse button there which I had not seen before, and after pressing that, and ticking a little box next to the wanted item, the error messages no longer occur. (They still happen for some as yet unknown reason if I don't press browse first.)
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Offline rubio

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #43 on: February 23, 2008, 09:31:07 AM »
Which are the best performances of Symphony no. 3 "Song of the Night"?
“One good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no pain” Bob Marley

Offline Maciek

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #44 on: February 23, 2008, 11:43:04 AM »
Ryszard Karczykowski under Dorati has no equal, in my humble opinion. 0:)

But there are very good alternatives out there (Ochman recorded it at least twice, there's also a nice soprano version with Woytowicz under Rowicki).

Offline rubio

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #45 on: February 23, 2008, 01:59:44 PM »
Ryszard Karczykowski under Dorati has no equal, in my humble opinion. 0:)


Thank you very much for the recommendation, Maciek! I managed to track down a reasonably priced copy at Amazon.
“One good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no pain” Bob Marley

Offline rubio

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #46 on: May 16, 2008, 02:34:21 AM »
Ryszard Karczykowski under Dorati has no equal, in my humble opinion. 0:)

But there are very good alternatives out there (Ochman recorded it at least twice, there's also a nice soprano version with Woytowicz under Rowicki).

Is this Woytowicz under Rowicki?

http://www.polskienagrania.com.pl/pl.php?o=big&big=220

“One good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no pain” Bob Marley

Offline Maciek

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #47 on: May 16, 2008, 03:07:07 AM »
Yes, it is. And check PM. ;)

Offline val

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #48 on: May 17, 2008, 12:15:42 AM »
This CD presents the best Stabat Mater and a version of the 3rd Symphony even superior to Dorati.

But the surprise is a sublime Cantata, "Demeter" (only 7'), to me one of the most sublime works of Szymanowski. The interpretation, this time conducted by Wislocki, is perfect.

Offline Maciek

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #49 on: June 12, 2008, 10:01:40 AM »
I wanted to write a lengthy reply, backed up by audio clips and excerpts from the score. I still intend to do that but look how much time has passed already! It's been almost a month, and I still haven't had the time to prepare things. So for the time being a shorter post will have to suffice.

On almost all counts, I don't agree. >:D The only point where I do is your assessment of the Stabat Mater - this is indeed one of the best recordings (funnily enough, possibly the worst recording of the piece is also under Rowicki - but with a different set of soloists). The Liebert Litany on this disc is also excellent, BTW.

Now on to the symphony. I did mention this recording of the 3rd in my recommendations earlier on, but my sole reason was the voice of Stefania Woytowicz which I am very partial to. But the fact that this is a recording with a soprano, that fact alone - practically disqualifies it, since Szymanowski did not intend the part to be sung by a woman. Other than that, the interpretation itself is, IMO, one of the poorest available, and certainly can't stand comparison to Dorati's version.

Szymanowski's orchestration, especially in this period, is not exactly famous for being clear and orderly, and most conductors complain about it. Rowicki, together with his orchestra, manages to muddle it even more - at times, the piece sounds almost aleatoric. Also, there is no sense of direction or form in this interpretation. It is a series of small, chaotic bursts of energy with absolutely no unifying principle - it seems to me as if these were just random sounds floating about in a disorganized space of noise. There is no sense of development, no single line of thought - everything is disjointed and chaotic. Dorati's interpretation, on the other hand, while retaining all the color, is very clear in terms of form and development: you can easily discern the development of musical ideas, it all makes sense, from start to finish. So the only redeeming feature of the Rowicki is, for me, the presence Woytowicz - which is a very strong argument in my book, and on that count alone I don't intend to ever part with this recording (not to mention the superb Stabat Mater). But as a way to get acquainted with this symphony... no, certainly not.  :-\

Now, your mentioning of the recording of Demeter as "perfect" seems even more odd. How many other versions of Demeter have you heard? This is easily the worst Demeter there is out there :o, for the most part because of Szostek-Radkowa's terrible, terrible singing. :'( I have about half a dozen more of her recordings and the problem is always the same: the woman perpetually ignores the texts the music is set to. Her singing has nothing, I repeat, absolutely nothing to do with them. It is very instructive (to me, at least) to compare her version with the one I posted earlier somewhere around here, with Jadwiga Rappe as the soloist. Now, Jadwiga Rappe hasn't got half the volume that Szostek has, so she is drowned out by the orchestra in the climax, and yet her interpretation is more successful on every imaginable level: it is absolutely shattering, the anguished mother's monologue expressing unforeseen depths of human despair. I could listen to it all day long. And yes, here I agree with you: I think that this, along with the Litany and Stabat Mater, is one of Szymanowski's greatest masterpieces. :D But on interpretation - I couldn't agree less! :-\

My feelings about all this are so strong because before writing my post I listened twice to all four recordings back to back, with score in hand, and was simply appalled by what Rowicki and Szostek-Radkowa do to the music.

Of course, everyone has their own ears and opinion, and that's what it comes down to in the end.

A side thought: many people believe that Szymanowski from the 1910s should be performed in a very "impressionistic" way - all color and no form. Because, they say, there really isn't much form there. I think interpretations such as Dorati's prove them completely wrong - the music is simply "difficult" but a great performer will manage to "tease the simplicity out of the complexity". ::) ;D

(Perhaps it was a good idea not to write a "lengthy" post after all... ;D)

[Edited to tone done what, in retrospect, seems like a very testy post - though I remembered trying to make it as neutral as possible. ???]
« Last Edit: September 20, 2010, 07:58:24 AM by Maciek »

Offline j.horowitz

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #50 on: November 23, 2008, 01:53:38 PM »
This forum has a good tradition of providing users with hard-to-get and good music, so, may I ask... I'm in need of four Szymanowski songs:
1. Tak jestem smetny (Joyless I am)
2. W zaczarowanym lesie (In the enchanted forest)
3. Nade mna leci w szafir morza (Flying over me into the sapphire of the sea...)
4. Rycz burzo! (Roar, storm!)

...those are from 'Cztery piesni', (Four songs) op. 11, and can be found (as I was told) on fairly recent, 4 cd "Szymanowski: Complete Songs for Voice and Piano" release.
Anyone could help? My gratefulness will be overwhelming. ;-)

Thank you!
"- You know why this case is so heavy?
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- Because I carry all these wrong notes with me."

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #51 on: November 23, 2008, 03:56:34 PM »
I have more and more time for this composer..his style is quite unique. My favourite works are "The Song of the Night" and the "Stabat Mater", both hauntingly atmospheric.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Maciek

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #52 on: November 24, 2008, 08:41:47 AM »
Rach 3 fanatic ;-)

But you and Kwoon are 2 different people, right??

Offline j.horowitz

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #53 on: November 24, 2008, 11:13:54 AM »
I have never seen this nickname before so I will go with: yes. Although I may have split personality without knowing it.  ;D  ;) But I guess that difference between Poland and Providence, RI, USA is well enough to testify. ;)

P.S.
Quote from: Kwoon
First, my 168th Rach 3

...and, all in all, I'm exclusively giving "Rach 3 fanatic" title to him, hands down! :)
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 11:17:43 AM by j.horowitz »
"- You know why this case is so heavy?
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- Because I carry all these wrong notes with me."

Offline Dax

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #54 on: February 02, 2009, 06:04:54 AM »
I've just discovered this thread (fairly new member) - a thousand thanks to Maciek for posting these recordings: I'm a long time Szymanowski enthusiast, but Agave is new to me although I have a facsimile of the score. Haven't heard the Dorati version of the 3rd symphony either. I must admit to being a heretic and preferring the version with soprano . . .

Offline Dax

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #55 on: February 02, 2009, 09:34:08 AM »
I possess a score of Jan Krenz's interesting-looking orchestration of the Masques - I understand he also orchestrated the Metopes. I assume these have been performed but probably not recorded (?). Has anybody heard either of them?

Offline Maciek

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #56 on: February 02, 2009, 01:43:40 PM »
Wow! You have that score! I didn't even know it had been published!

I've heard Krenz's Masques twice. The first time was live (at a Warsaw Autumn? I'm not sure) and I didn't like the orchestration very much. The second time was a live radio broadcast of a concert - and I loved it! Great piece of work, and incomparably richer (in terms of colour and... well, musical imagination) than Grzegorz Fitelberg's versions (of other Szymanowski pieces). But then Krenz is also a first rate composer! (Not to mention that he's my favorite Polish conductor, a great conductor and, obviously, one who really deserves to be known much, much better outside of Poland.)

(Oddly enough though, I think the first time, when I didn't like it so much, the piece was being conducted by the arranger himself, while the second time round the conductor was Jerzy Maksymiuk... ??? ;D)

I didn't know he also orchestrated the Metopes. Are you sure of that?

BTW, there's also a piano and orchestra version of Masques, arranged by Jerzy Fitelberg (the famous conductor's son).

BTW no. 2, IIRC Szymanowski's sister Stanisława sung in at least one performance of the 3rd, so obviously the composer did not dicard such a possibility (I didn't know about this yet when I mused on the subject earlier in this thread).

Offline Dax

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #57 on: February 02, 2009, 03:04:24 PM »
The Krenz orchestration of Masques was published by PWM in 1996 - I found it in Krakow.
I think I must be mistaken about the Metopes: I could have sworn I saw a reference to it some years back, but can find nothing at the moment.

I've been much enjoying the versions of Agawe which you posted. First impressions were that probably neither really told the truth (Hill's orchestration seemed a little pre-1914 and Moss's slightly too exotically extreme) - but that's certainly not a reservation. Excellent work by both gentleman and really valuable to hear this piece! I've downloaded Krenz's concertino + look forward to listening to it.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 03:08:08 PM by Dax »

Offline Maciek

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #58 on: February 03, 2009, 07:30:45 AM »
Be warned though, that the Concertino, spiffing work that it is, is not very typical Krenz. His typical idiom is much more "advanced" (for lack of a better word).

I agree: neither of the Agawe completions sound much like anything I could imagine Szymanowski writing. But it's wonderful that they came into being anyway. Now I wish someone would discover a forgotten copy of the manuscript of Szymanowski's Concertino for piano and orchestra (an unfinished work, written at the very end of his life, the manuscript did not survive the war)... ::) ;D :'(

Offline Dax

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #59 on: February 03, 2009, 12:23:44 PM »
Oh, agreed about the Szymanowski Concertino! But I was disappointed with the Krenz concertino. I'm having a much better time with Szeligowski's piano concerto right now. And Tadeusz Kassern was a new name to me - his concerto for soprano and orchestra could not have happened without mid-period Szymanowski. (Yes, I've been raiding your collection!).

I'm really surprised about your comments about Rowicki's account of the 3rd symphony. I've heard a few versions (but not Dorati's) and have found it way better than any other, particularly in terms of direction(!) Mind you, I've lived with this performance for 40 odd years . . . but surely you don't think that Rattle (for example) does a better job?
I'll come back to you on different versions of Demeter at some point. It's just the excuse I need to compare them.