The Pearls of Polish Music - Szymanowski
Classical - Orchestral
Szymanowski: Concert Overture Op. 12, Violin Concerto No. 1 Op. 35, Symphony No. 4 "Symphonie Concertante" Op. 60
Jakub Jakowicz (violin)
Piotr Paleczny (piano)
Jerzy Maksymiuk (conductor)
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Review by Graham Williams - March 11, 2006
This is one of two hybrid SACDs issued, so far, by BeArTon in their series ‘The Pearls of Polish Music’.
The recording team is the same as that for the earlier Lutoslawski disc and the sessions took place between December 2004 and February 2005 at the Concert Studio of Polish Radio in Warsaw. The works were recorded in HD PCM and converted to DSD by Polyhymnia, and like the Lutoslawski disc this one is another winner.
Each of the three works on this Szymanowski disc is from one of the three periods that characterise Szymanowski’s compositional development.
The Concert Overture is an early work in which the influence of Richard Strauss (Don Juan in particular) looms large. Nevertheless it already shows the emergence of a composer of genius with its brilliant orchestration and rich melodic invention. Jerzy Maksymiuk and the Sinfonia Varsovia play it with a sweep and passion that is matched by the full and spacious recorded sound.
The Violin Concerto No.1 was composed when Szymanowski’s impressionist period was at its peak and is surely his masterpiece. The music of this haunting single movement concerto with its rich orchestral tuttis and sinuous violin lines, glows with an almost erotic quality. The soloist here is the young violinist Jukub Jacowicz who gives an eloquent and passionate performance that does not quite erase the memory of that by the incomparable David Oistrakh, but is certainly the equal of the many other versions on CD.
Where this version scores over the competition is in the quality of the recorded sound, which enables one to hear this luminous score in the best possible light. The balance between soloist and orchestra is beautifully judged and the huge dynamic range of the climaxes is unflinchingly captured without strain. At the same time Symanowski’s delicate use of percussion at the start of the concerto is crystal clear.
By the time Szymanowski composed his Symphony No. 4 in 1932, subtitled Symphonie Concertante due to its large piano part, he had become interested in Polish folk music, especially that from the Tatra mountain region. It is an exhilarating work that, with its driving rhythms, brings to mind the piano concertos of Bartok and Prokofiev. The piece is dedicated to Arthur Rubinstein who once made a recording of it in the 1950s. Here the pianist is Piotr Paleczny who recorded the piece for EMI about twenty-five years ago and has played it frequently in the concert hall. A comparison between the two versions reveals a greater intensity and depth in the new one aided, of course, by the magnificent recording quality that carefully balances the piano with the orchestra. The Sinfonia Varsovia and their conductor play throughout with commitment and a natural feeling for the idiom. Try the barbaric dance that begins the final movement of the symphony to be convinced of the standard of the playing and recording.
The 5.0 surround sound adds its usual benefits to an already outstanding SACD.
Copyright © 2006 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net