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Szymanowski: Harnasie / Wit, Warsaw PO

Release Date: 02/24/2009 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570723   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Ewa MarczykWieslaw OchmanKazimierz KoslaczAlexander Pinderak,   ... 
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic OrchestraWarsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In terms of subject matter Szymanowski's magnificent choral ballet Harnasie is sort of the Polish equivalent of Stravinsky's Les Noces (The Wedding), although the idiom is squarely Szymanowski's own brand of luxurious late Romanticism--here spiked liberally with the punchy rhythms, earthy sonority, and ageless tunefulness of folk music. It's a work that deserves to be enormously popular. Probably the need for tenor solo plus chorus in a work lasting a scant 35 minutes counts against it, but this fabulous new performance by the always reliable Antoni Wit and Co. could do much to introduce new listeners to this splendid piece. Think, if you will, of Daphnis et Chloé meets Carmina Burana, and
Read more you'll have a good sense of the music's unique combination of sensuousness and vital energy.

Mandragora is a another brief (27-minute) work composed as an insert for a performance of Le bourgeois gentilhomme, but it stands perfectly well on its own. Comparatively speaking, the idiom is aptly lighter and more neo-classical than the later Harnasie, but it's no less enjoyable. Prince Potemkin started life as incidental music, but yet again lives on as an independent concert piece. It has one of the sexiest final chords in the entire orchestral repertoire, and Antoni Wit relishes every evocative sonority. As is so often the case with this conductor, tempos tend to be moderate, but the energy level remains consistently high thanks to incisive rhythmic pointing and clean, clear textures.

The playing and singing here are never less than world class in any case, and Naxos' engineering is extremely natural, like a good balcony seat in a warm, spacious hall. At first you might find the soft bits a touch lacking in impact (not clarity), but once you get the volume set comfortably the big choral climaxes fill the ample acoustic with real "you are there" immediacy, not to mention perfect balances between singers and instrumentalists. There have been several excellent recordings of this music from Polish labels in the past, and even Simon Rattle's EMI recording was very good, but it would be hard to come by finer performances than these, and if you don't yet know a major masterpiece like Harnasie then this reasonably priced edition is surely the one to own.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Harnasie, Op. 55 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Ewa Marczyk (Violin), Wieslaw Ochman (Tenor)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1931; Poland 
Mandragora, Op. 43 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Kazimierz Koslacz (Cello), Alexander Pinderak (Tenor)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; Poland 
Prince Potemkin, Op. 51 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Ewa Marciniec (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Poland 

Featured Sound Samples

Harnasie: Tableau 1: Mimic Scene, "Courtship"
Mandragora: Scene 1

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