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Szymanowski: King Roger, Symphony No 4 /Hampson, Rattle, Etc

Release Date: 09/21/1999 
Label:  Emi Classics Special Import Catalog #: 56823   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Thomas HampsonPhilip LangridgeElzbieta SzmytkaRyszard Minkiewicz,   ... 
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony OrchestraCity of Birmingham Symphony Youth ChorusCity of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Written in 1918, Karol Szymanowski's unique opera King Roger is a work of striking beauty and intensity. The libretto, sung in Polish, reflects the composer's interest in the Mediterranean world and in Greek mythology. In 12th Century Sicily, a mysterious shepherd speaking of a god of beauty, sensuality and (sexual) liberation troubles the reign of King Roger. The shepherd will eventually reveal himself to be none other than Dionysus, whose temptations the king ultimately resists, offering himself instead to the sun (Apollo). To sustain this very atmospheric and mystical plot, Szymanowski created music of scintillating refinement, adorned with as lush an orchestration as humanly possible, full of oriental
Read more color and exotic perfume. The choral writing is powerful and evocative, while the main roles are characterized by sensuous melodies (as in the extraordinary Song of Roxana, sung by Elzbieta Szmytka with ecstatic abandon). Simon Rattle reveals a singular affinity for this hedonistic sound world: his direction underlines with uncommon liveliness the subtlety of Szymanowski harmony and orchestral writing, without ever sacrificing its dramatic impact. The cast is impeccable (superb King Roger of Thomas Hampson, hallucinatory shepherd/Dionysus of Ryszard Minkiewicz), as is the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. As a complement to this short opera, Simon Rattle conducts the late, neo-classical Symphony No. 4 with solo piano. Leif Ove Andsnes gives to the solo part all the precision and rhythmic drive that the piece calls for. The recording catches perfectly the spacious acoustics of Birmingham's Symphony Hall. For all lovers of Szymanowski and/or 20th Century opera, this double CD is a must.

--Luca Sabbatini, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

King Roger, Op. 46 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Philip Langridge (Tenor), Elzbieta Szmytka (Soprano),
Ryszard Minkiewicz (Tenor), Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Robert Gierlach (Baritone),
Lisa Milne (Soprano), Andrew Burden (Tenor)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Youth Chorus,  City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1924; Poland 
Date of Recording: 07/1998 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 87 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: Polish 
Symphony no 4, Op. 60 "Symphonie concertante" by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; Poland 
Date of Recording: 10/1996 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 24 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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