Karol Szymanowski composed four symphonies, the last having a concertante role for piano. This disc is the first of a pair which will, unusually, include all four. They are drawn from the performances prepared for the Barbican in 2012 and 2013 when Gergiev and the LSO presented these works each paired with the symphonies of Brahms. The engineers are well used to the oddities of the Barbican acoustic by now and these recordings solve its problems by giving us the orchestra somehow without the hall. I have listened carefully and I cannot hear any reflection from the walls of London's leading concert venue. Nonetheless the orchestra sounds detailed, with a wide dynamic range and a very wide frequency response. It is without doubt the best ofRead more the four Szymanowski Second Symphony recordings I have heard from a technical point of view. ...
The Second Symphony with its unusual opening for solo violin is much recorded and this performance, whilst lacking the swirling urgency that the Warsaw Philharmonic under Rowicki brought in their late 1970s recording, is so well played that even the curiously archaic variations sound good. Certainly these forces provide much of the sensuality and ecstatic lyricism that commentators have heard in Szymanowski's works.
– Dave Billinge, MusicWeb International
Gergiev and the LSO certainly meet head-on the challenges that this music presents. Many recognize a looseness and lack of formal structure in these works. Gergiev has an innate understanding of their shape, direction and narrative. Teasing out the complex orchestral detail, he is able to highlight and underline the orchestral colours of these lush scores. The strings are particularly ravishing. There is both passion and drama together with expressive lyricism. I certainly get the feeling that conductor and orchestra are deeply committed to and really enjoy performing this music. There is a life-affirming fervour throughout.
– Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in F minor, Op. 15by Karol Szymanowski
London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1906-1907; Warsaw, Poland
Symphony no 2 in B major, Op. 19by Karol Szymanowski
London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1909-1910; Warsaw, Poland
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Gergiev and LSO ShineAugust 26, 2013By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"Symphony No. 1 was composed when Szymanowski was only 24, and he seemed to have considered it a youthful indiscretion. Yes, parts sound derivative of Richard Strauss' tone poems, and the structure isn't very tight in places. <br />
But the symphony's a work with a lush, romantic sound and that's the work's strength. Gergiev understands that and presents the work with unbridled enthusiasm. These may be the exaggerated passions of youth, but they're genuine -- and in this recording, they're taken seriously. <br />
,br. In some ways, Szymanowski's second symphony No. 2 is proto-concerto, with solo violin playing off the orchestra. The influences of Richard Strauss and Max Reger are evident; the former in the first movement, the latter in the intricate second movement's fugue. Gergiev shapes the music to make these relationships more apparent. <br />
Szymanowski at 27 was a much more confident composer than he was three years earlier, and Gregiev artfully articulates the structure of the music -- especially in the theme, variations, and fugue of the second movement. <br />
I strongly recommend the SACD version if you have an SACD player. Although a live recording, the performances by the London Symphony Orchestra are immaculate. Subtle details of the sound of the instruments and the acoustics of the hall really make the music come alive. An excellent addition to LSO's self-released catalog."Report Abuse