Szymanowski Symphony & Harnasie

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 8

The exotic musical creations of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski have always enjoyed something of a cult following, but for some reason they stubbornly resist being accepted into the general repertoire. The reason for this remains a mystery, because anyone who has heard the Third Symphony, the opera King Roger, the two Violin Concertos, or the music on this disc, cannot but feel that this guy was one of the 20th century’s major musical voices. The Symphony No. 4 (subtitled “Symphonie Concertante”) for piano and orchestra was composed during the composer’s last years, and was championed by none other than Arthur Rubinstein, who recorded it back in the 1950s. Anyone who loves Bartók or Prokofiev will enjoy this often ebullient, sometimes hauntingly lyrical work that gets a smashing performance from Piotr Paleczny and Kazimierez Kord. In fact, I’ve never heard the finale better done: the closing pages bring a positively physical rush. Harnasie, a ballet with songs based on Polish folk material, by rights ought to be as popular as Orff’s Carmina Burana. It’s that engaging, and it’s as well done as the symphony. A must-have recording of major music, plain and simple.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This One

KAROL SZYMANOWSKI - Symphony No. 4 (Symphonie Concertante); Harnasie (complete ballet)

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