Author Topic: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)  (Read 62830 times)

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Offline kyjo

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #240 on: August 15, 2019, 03:59:55 PM »
Szymanowski is an excellent composer in my book. Much of his music has both the intoxicating lushness of Scriabin and the edgy folk rhythms of Bartok (though, of course, he has a hugely individual voice). His 3rd and 4th symphonies (the latter is my favorite work of his), both violin concerti, Stabat mater, Litany to the Virgin Mary, and Love Songs of Hafiz are all top-notch works. I’m reminded that I need to check out Harnasie and Król Roger...
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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #241 on: August 16, 2019, 01:42:15 AM »
String quartets, noted. I have heard nothing of them and shall have to check them out. I don't agree that his piano works lack spark, but I am thus far less fond of them than I am the orchestral music.

Offline Todd

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #242 on: August 29, 2020, 10:16:42 AM »



It is an incontrovertible, empirical fact that the world does not have enough recordings of the piano music of Karol Szymanowski. (That applies to all of Szymanowski's music, really.)  Polish label Dux does its part to rectify this shortage by releasing more titles of the composer's music than pretty much any other label.  Indeed, 2018 saw the label release two recordings of the Op 1 Preludes.  I happened to pick up this recording by Radosław Sobczak, one of those two recordings.  No need to beat around the bush, Sobczak is among the best Szymanowski interpreters on disc, right up their with Piotr Anderszewski, Rafał Blechacz, and Sinae Lee.  In the Preludes he fully explores the composer's harmonic invention and dazzles the listener.  The E Flat Minor not only displays that, but it also shows Sobczak to have a finely honed touch as he very finely grades his dynamics, often playing two or three different levels at once with immaculate control.  The Second Sonata receives a superb performance, one where that harmonic daring marries to grand scale to most compelling effect.  Indeed, with Blechacz's take on the First, and Anderszewski's take on the Third, there is now a proper, reference grade recording of each of the three sonatas.  (This is not to take anything away from the exceptionally fine Ms Lee, to be clear.)  The two Mazurkas and one Etude make for an extended encore that really deliver.  Dux delivers SOTA sound, as per usual.  An outstanding disc in every way.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2020, 10:18:55 AM by Todd »
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Offline Maestro267

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #243 on: August 30, 2020, 05:16:40 AM »
It's kind of baffling how there is not a single recording that collects together all 4 symphonies. I've seen 2-4 together in a set, and Rattle's 4-fer includes just 3 & 4.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #244 on: August 30, 2020, 11:44:59 AM »
Is there a more Strauss-but-not-by-Strauss piece than Szymanowksi's Concert Overture!?  I listened to it the other day as part of the excellent Capriccio/Modern Times disc;



A really well constructed programme that goes from Szymanowksi at his most heroic, via the sinfonia Concertante to the swooning songs and entertaining tarantella.....

Offline kyjo

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #245 on: September 01, 2020, 08:55:43 AM »
Is there a more Strauss-but-not-by-Strauss piece than Szymanowksi's Concert Overture!?  I listened to it the other day as part of the excellent Capriccio/Modern Times disc;



A really well constructed programme that goes from Szymanowksi at his most heroic, via the sinfonia Concertante to the swooning songs and entertaining tarantella.....

To answer your question, I don’t think so! :D It almost embarrassingly cribs Don Juan in places, but that doesn’t stop it from being great fun!
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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #246 on: September 01, 2020, 11:05:00 AM »
Not to say his first two symphonies: lush and voluptuous in a Straussian way.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #247 on: September 04, 2020, 11:27:11 PM »
Not to say his first two symphonies: lush and voluptuous in a Straussian way.

the trouble with a phrase like that is it makes me imagine Strauss in a dress........! (clearly I have deeper issues than I have previously addressed)  :)

Offline Scion7

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #248 on: September 06, 2020, 10:04:42 AM »
the trouble with a phrase like that is it makes me imagine Strauss in a dress........!

Well, considering how hen-pecked the man was, in a way, Frau Strauss was the 'other' part of Richard - the manager, the task-master, the accountant. So him in a dress is relevant ... sort of ...   ???
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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #249 on: October 16, 2020, 06:12:04 PM »
Recordings of the Preludes I like. Dariescu plays the Preludes of Shostakovich as well as Sz. The performance of Sz presents relaxed and languorous feel. Atmospheric music. I don’t know about the Sh Preludes, so no opinion about them. Vaysse-Knitter plays a mixture of piano works including the Preludes and Variations. The music is picturesque while it maintains some pleasant coolness and enigma. Very sophisticated performance. I am not a fan of the Sinae Lee set.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #250 on: August 03, 2021, 12:08:11 PM »
Cross-post from the ‘Listening’ thread:

Thanks, John, and good day to you as well.

I only have three Szymanowski albums in my collection: the Boulez I’m listening to now, Rattle conducting the Stabat Mater, the Litanies and Symphony No. 3 (so I have two recordings of that piece), and his complete King Roger coupled with Symphony No. 4.

I have nothing to compare it to, of course, but it appears to me that the Boulez and Terzlaff’s “cool” approach to the Violin Concerto No. 1 suits the music quite well. In any case, I’m thinking of getting Martin Jones’ complete traversal of the piano music (which can be had for a pittance, and the pianist made a good impression on me in his complete set of Roger-Ducasses’ piano works) or the string quartets (there’s a Naxos disc that has the complete).

Okay, where do I start? :D

The problem I have with the Szymanowski Boulez recording is I’m not how much time he had to really get inside the composer’s idiom. I mean he did come to the composer late in life whereas someone like Debussy, Schoenberg or Bartók, he had conducted for decades. I’m just not sure a cool approach works with Szymanowski, because this music is so sensual and, at many times, hot-blooded. Perhaps the younger Boulez would’ve done well in Szymanowski. Anyway, I would reconsider the Martin Jones traversal of the solo piano works and consider these two:



This is also a blistering recording:



Both of these recordings would be an excellent introduction to the composer’s solo piano music, IMHO. I never have been impressed with Martin Jones piano playing, but, you, of course, have a different viewpoint here.

For the VCs, this is still the one to beat for me:



This my favorite recording of King Roger:



If you can find this recording of the SQs, then jump on it:



This is also a great recording of the SQs:



I know you’re not a fan of works for violin and piano, but this disc is exquisite and a must-buy, IMHO:



For the symphonies, ballets and choral works, these are quite good I must say:



I hope this helps you in some way. I would recommend the songs, but I’m still in the process of wrapping my head around them. I haven’t really enjoyed a lot of what I’ve heard and I’m not sure if it’s the performances or the music itself.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2021, 12:11:18 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline ritter

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #251 on: August 03, 2021, 12:40:27 PM »
Wow! Thanks for that, John. I’ll look into your recommendations, and report back…. :)
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #252 on: August 03, 2021, 12:52:35 PM »
Wow! Thanks for that, John. I’ll look into your recommendations, and report back…. :)

You’re welcome, Rafael. Szymanowski is favorite of mine and I’ve spent a good bit of time rummaging through his oeuvre over the years. :)
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Offline amw

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #253 on: August 04, 2021, 02:53:28 AM »
For me re Szymanowski the piano music is the most central. I have the Martin Jones and Sinae Lee integrals, both of which are fine, although latter is slightly better. Among that output, the 20 Mazurkas, Op. 50, are particularly special to me, along with the Sonata No. 3, Op. 36. Métopes and Masques are also more or less essential listening.

The best single Szymanowski recording from my perspective is the one by Roland Pöntinen on BIS, which covers the same repertoire as the Anderszewski disc. Some people do prefer Anderszewski for a variety of reasons; I have both, and for whatever reason simply find Pöntinen more appealing, especially in the Sonata. (He also includes six mazurkas as a bonus.) He has a more pointillistic, modernist touch, with a somewhat larger dynamic range. Sviatoslav Richter is the other superior recording of the Sonata No. 3 that I know of, and can be found in a variety of incarnations. For the full set of Mazurkas, although Hamelin is not bad, I've found Anna Kijanowska to be my preference there. (It would also be nice to see an Ewa Kupiec recording, which maybe will happen someday.) Among individual mazurkas, most of the ones recorded by Arthur Rubinstein are essential, of course. Cédric Tiberghien's recording of Masques and Métopes is paired with the two sets of Etudes, of which Op. 33 is more interesting, and he does really shine here as much more than just Alina Ibragimova's junior partner.

The Sinfonia Concertante (essentially a piano concerto) has a large number of high quality recordings; Matsuev/Gergiev and Bruja/Wit represent the two interpretive extremes, with most performances falling somewhere in between. If I had to recommend one recording for a beginner to triangulate from, it would probably be Paleczny/Kord (on CD Accord), not necessarily because it is my favourite of the lot (these days I probably lean towards Bruja, and Kupiec/Steffens)—although it's very good. Another Paleczny recording on EMI may be more readily available, and is about equally good. Rubinstein is also a good entry point, but sound is subpar.

Other works have already been mentioned; for the string quartets I've always been satisfied with the Varsovia Quartet on Olympia (paired incongruously with Lutosławski and Penderecki 2) and never felt much need for alternatives, but will check out the recordings recommended by Mirror Image. Have not gotten into the other symphonies, or the opera, or the ballet, or the choral music. The orchestral songs could be great, but I think have yet to find their ideal interpreter. For the voice and piano songs, good interpretations probably exist, I just haven't found them yet.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
« Reply #254 on: August 04, 2021, 05:55:13 AM »
For me re Szymanowski the piano music is the most central. I have the Martin Jones and Sinae Lee integrals, both of which are fine, although latter is slightly better. Among that output, the 20 Mazurkas, Op. 50, are particularly special to me, along with the Sonata No. 3, Op. 36. Métopes and Masques are also more or less essential listening.

The best single Szymanowski recording from my perspective is the one by Roland Pöntinen on BIS, which covers the same repertoire as the Anderszewski disc. Some people do prefer Anderszewski for a variety of reasons; I have both, and for whatever reason simply find Pöntinen more appealing, especially in the Sonata. (He also includes six mazurkas as a bonus.) He has a more pointillistic, modernist touch, with a somewhat larger dynamic range. Sviatoslav Richter is the other superior recording of the Sonata No. 3 that I know of, and can be found in a variety of incarnations. For the full set of Mazurkas, although Hamelin is not bad, I've found Anna Kijanowska to be my preference there. (It would also be nice to see an Ewa Kupiec recording, which maybe will happen someday.) Among individual mazurkas, most of the ones recorded by Arthur Rubinstein are essential, of course. Cédric Tiberghien's recording of Masques and Métopes is paired with the two sets of Etudes, of which Op. 33 is more interesting, and he does really shine here as much more than just Alina Ibragimova's junior partner.

The Sinfonia Concertante (essentially a piano concerto) has a large number of high quality recordings; Matsuev/Gergiev and Bruja/Wit represent the two interpretive extremes, with most performances falling somewhere in between. If I had to recommend one recording for a beginner to triangulate from, it would probably be Paleczny/Kord (on CD Accord), not necessarily because it is my favourite of the lot (these days I probably lean towards Bruja, and Kupiec/Steffens)—although it's very good. Another Paleczny recording on EMI may be more readily available, and is about equally good. Rubinstein is also a good entry point, but sound is subpar.

Other works have already been mentioned; for the string quartets I've always been satisfied with the Varsovia Quartet on Olympia (paired incongruously with Lutosławski and Penderecki 2) and never felt much need for alternatives, but will check out the recordings recommended by Mirror Image. Have not gotten into the other symphonies, or the opera, or the ballet, or the choral music. The orchestral songs could be great, but I think have yet to find their ideal interpreter. For the voice and piano songs, good interpretations probably exist, I just haven't found them yet.

Thanks for your feedback here, amw. I’ll have to check out that Pöntinen BIS recording you mentioned. I’ve always liked his pianism. Also, a big yes to the Anna Kijanowska recording of the Mazurkas on Dux. She’s so much better in this music than Hamelin. So for Rafael, here’s what the recording looks like:



Also a big yes to the Paleczny/Kord performance of Symphonie concertante, “Symphony No. 4” on CD Accord. I should’ve mentioned it in my initial reply to Rafael, but I didn’t want to overload him with recommendations.

Getting back to the piano music, has anyone heard the Anu Vehviläinen traversal of complete piano music on Alba? I’m curious about this series.
"Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art." - Claude Debussy