Notes and Editorial Reviews
Mieczyslaw Karlowicz was a significant talent, and his early death in 1909 (at age 33) was a serious loss to 20th century Polish music. His symphonic poems are typically refulgent late-Romantic works, full of ambition and, to be frank, pretension. Consider the three parts of Op. 10 (Eternal Songs): Song of Everlasting Yearning; Song of Love and Death; Song of Eternal Being. Heavy-duty stuff, and there's no point in pretending that Karlowicz, talented as he was, did full justice to the program, but the point is that he tried, tried hard, and produced gobs of richly entertaining music in the process.
Antoni Wit's first disc of tone poems was exceptional, and this one is excellent as well, if a hair less outstanding than previously. What problems there are stem from having the New Zealand orchestra rather than Wit's own Warsaw forces. Of course the New Zealanders play very well, and are well recorded, but their string section lacks the luxuriance that the music ideally requires, and while some listeners may prefer a leaner basic sonority, what Karlowicz really asks for is Strauss on steroids (i.e. Korngold and that crowd). Still, you won't find better performances of this music than Naxos' edition, and you can purchase this second volume with complete confidence.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com