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Szymanowski: Songs, Harnasie / Sobotka, Rattle

Release Date: 10/31/2006 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 64435   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Iwona SobotkaTimothy RobinsonKatarina Karnéus
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony OrchestraCity of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Despite being influenced by the likes of Richard Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, and his countryman Chopin, Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) composed music of great beauty and unique exoticism. The two song cycles recorded here, written during World War I, are more than tinged with orientalisms, with the East filtered through French pastels. The first, Love Songs of a Fairy-Tale Princess, consists of just three songs and is only nine minutes long. The titles--"The Lonely Moon", "The Nightingale", "Dance"--give away the styles in which they're composed: each is a coloratura gem that sometimes lapses into sheer vocalise, with the texts left behind. Bird-like soprano Iwona Sobotka
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Love Songs of Haviz, the other cycle, is based on translations of 14th-century Persian poetry. The late-Romantic texture, the expressive honesty, and the use of percussion--both high and low, is warm and tempting. Szymanowski wisely uses a darker, mezzo-soprano voice to express the intermingling images of nature and desire, and Katarina Karneus caresses each languourously. The lushness and decadence of a song like "Pearls of my soul" occasionally calls to mind Zemlinsky and his like.

Sandwiched between the cycles is a ballet called Harnasie, completed in 1931 and peculiarly scored for tenor, chorus, and orchestra. Inspired by the folk sounds of the Tatra Mountains, this is forwardly propulsive, rhythmically jerky, occasionally Stravinsky-like music that perfectly suits the subject of a bride being willingly abducted on her wedding night by bandits in the Carpathian Mountains. The textures are on a grander scale here--still strangely ethereal at times, but intercut with more earthbound sounds. Blocks, snare drums, and possibly a whip enter the aural landscape, and the xylophone goes wild.

All of the music recorded here is gripping and thrilling, filled with harmonic and orchestral surprises, and Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus obviously feel passionately about it. The performances and sonics are exemplary. This out-of-the-ordinary program is vastly entertaining, very rewarding, and comfortably otherworldly.

--Robert Levine., ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Songs (6) of a fairy-tale princess, Op. 31 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Iwona Sobotka (Soprano)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; Poland 
Date of Recording: 03/20/2006 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 9 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: Polish 
Notes: Arranger: Karol Szymanowski. 
Harnasie, Op. 55 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Timothy Robinson (Tenor)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1931; Poland 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 33 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: Polish 
Notes: Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England (10/23/2002 - 10/25/2002) 
Lovesongs (8) of Hafiz, Op. 26 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Katarina Karnéus (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Poland 
Date of Recording: 06/30/2004 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England 
Length: 21 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: Polish 

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