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Szymanowski: Stabat Mater, Veni Creator, Litany To The Virgin Mary


Release Date: 09/30/2008 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570724   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Jaroslav BrekIwona HossaEwa Marciniec
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic ChorusWarsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

An excellent collection of Szymanowski’s choral works in first class sound.

This new CD on Naxos enters a highly competitive marketplace. There has been something of an upsurge in recent years of recordings of Szymanowski’s late choral masterpieces. There is already another good version on Naxos, with the exact sequence of works on this new disc, conducted by Karol Stryja. Antoni Wit has himself recorded the work before, again with Polish forces, for EMI in 1983 - recently released on a new EMI bargain box of Szymanowski’s works. There have also been versions by conductors as varied as Simon Rattle and Robert Shaw, not forgetting Wislocki and Rowicki from the older Polish generation. So how does this newcomer measure
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Forming part of what appears to be a new series of Polish works on Naxos, Wit and his Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra supply a mature understanding of the music which is balanced by engineering that is unobtrusive yet fully realistic. The disc provides a good mix of Szymanowski’s early, late-romantic style with his later more spare approach initiated by his contact with these religious texts. The Stabat Mater and Litany are tricky works to bring off effectively, requiring from the performers a balance between restraint and ecstasy, the spiritual and the sensual.

Not all recent performers have successfully maintained the equilibrium between these two opposing forces; Simon Rattle’s Birmingham version sounds fantastic but to my ears the essentially chaste religious inspiration behind the music is missing. No such concerns affect Wit’s performance; he holds his forces on a tight rein, but will allow the dynamics to expand as appropriate. The team of soloists is excellent, with soprano Iwona Hossa particularly radiant in the Stabat Mater and the three other works on this CD requiring her participation. The Warsaw Philharmonic Choir sings with firm, homogenous tone although perhaps an even greater attention to dynamics might have been welcome.

The Veni Creator is an altogether more extrovert work, as befitting its celebratory origins (it was written for the inauguration of the Warsaw Academy of Music) and the recording here makes a tremendous impact with full chorus, orchestra and organ.

The two earlier works, Demeter and Penthesilea, bring us examples of Szymanowski the exoticist and romantic. Originally for voice and piano, Szymanowski completed a full orchestral version of Demeter in 1924. Setting a mythological poem by Szymanowski's sister Zofia, the work portrays the feelings of the goddess of the harvest as she wanders the earth searching for her daughter Persephone, who had been abducted and taken to the underworld. The music is for the most part restrained and slow, but the orchestral colours reflect Szymanowski’s preoccupation with Eastern culture with its whole tone scales and woodwind arabesques; the work is contemporaneous with the Third Symphony.

Szymanowski wrote Penthesilea in February 1908 during his stay in Nervi near Genoa in Italy; the work was first presented to the public in Lvov on 20 March 1910 by Szymanowski's sister Stanis?awa Korwin-Szymanowska, who also participated in the premieres of Stabat Mater and Litany. Reflecting the composer’s interest in classical antiquity, the work is written in an opulent, late-romantic style.

An excellent collection of Szymanowski’s choral works in first class sound.

-- Ewan McCormick, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Stabat mater, Op. 53 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Jaroslav Brek (Baritone), Iwona Hossa (Soprano), Ewa Marciniec (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus,  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925-1926; Poland 
Length: 24 Minutes 59 Secs. 
2.
Veni Creator, Op. 57 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Iwona Hossa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus,  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; Poland 
Length: 10 Minutes 22 Secs. 
3.
Litany to the Virgin Mary, Op. 59 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Iwona Hossa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus,  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930-1933; Poland 
Length: 9 Minutes 11 Secs. 
4.
Demeter, Op. 37b by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Ewa Marciniec (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus,  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917/1924; Poland 
Length: 7 Minutes 58 Secs. 
5.
Penthesilea, Op. 18 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Ewa Marciniec (Mezzo Soprano), Iwona Hossa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908/1912; Poland 
Length: 6 Minutes 56 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Stabat Mater, Op. 53: Stala matka bolejaca (Stabat mater dolorosa)
Stabat Mater, Op. 53: I ktoz widzac tak cierpiaca (Quis est homo qui non fleret)
Stabat Mater, Op. 53: O Matka, zrodlo wszechmilosci (Eia Mater, fons amoris)
Stabat Mater, Op. 53: Spraw, niech placze z Toba razem (Fac me tecum pie flere)
Stabat Mater, Op. 53: Panno slodka, racz mozolem (Virgo virginum praeciara)
Stabat Mater, Op. 53: Chrystus niech mi bedzie grodem (Christe, cum sit hinc exire)
Veni Creator, Op. 57
Litania do Marii Panny (Litany to the Virgin Mary), Op. 59: Dwunastodzwieczna cytaro
Litania do Marii Panny (Litany to the Virgin Mary), Op. 59: Jak krzak skarlaly
Demeter, Op. 37b
Penthesilea, Op. 18

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