LEBRECHT LISTENS | Two New Releases Showcase The Artwork Of Karol Szymanowski

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Karol Szymanowski in 1935 by unknown photographer (Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (Nationwide archive of Poland)/Public area)

Szymanowski: Stabat Mater, Op. 53 & Penderecki: Dies Irae (Orfeo)
Karol Szymanowski: Piano Works (DG)


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Whereas Karol Szymanowski is unlikely ever to be voted into the Traditional FM Corridor of Fame, his inventory has risen steadily within the current century, a lot in order that he can nearly be counted now as mainstream. This was by no means the case in his lifetime, when he suffered the twin incapacity for a composer of being Polish and homosexual. On the primary depend he was in contrast unfavourably to Chopin, on the second disparagingly to Tchaikovsky. All the time his personal man, Szymanowski (1882-1937) feels like no different maker of musical language — as even a cursory listening will attest.

A Stabat Mater of 1926, mourning the dying of a beloved niece, is unexpectedly upbeat for the circumstances. Sung in Polish and utilizing two feminine soloists and a tenor, it conjures extra hope than loss in a musical fashion nearer to Janacek than Stravinsky. An Austrian radio efficiency performed by Michael Gielen in January 2000 takes the ear down unsuspected forest paths, the treetops twinkling with a promise of redemption. I haven’t heard a extra gripping choral work all 12 months.

After which, by the subsequent submit, alongside comes the Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman with a set of Preludes and Mazurkas that retune my ears to a wider spectrum. Szymanowski on the piano is directly playful and misleading. A contact of Chopin mutates into Skryabin. The second prelude is defiantly hedonistic, the third is Schumann-going-on-Schoenberg. Zimerman makes recent sense of each crafted phrase. In the meanwhile the eighth prelude is my favorite, however it’s getting challenged by a pair of mazurkas. That is an album you’ll return to again and again.

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