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Karlowicz: Serenade, Op. 2; Violin Concerto Op. 8

Album Summary

>Karlowicz, Mieczyslaw : Serenade for string orchestra in C major, Op. 2
>Karlowicz, Mieczyslaw : Concerto for Violin & orchestra in A major, Op. 8
Performer Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

Described by Gramophone as a 'magician, bewitching our ears', Russian-born American-based violinist Ilya Kaler has won 1st Prizes and Gold Medals at the Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and the Paganini Competitions. He is an ideal soloist in Mieczyslaw Karlowicz's attractive and spirited Violin Concerto. The Serenade, Karlowicz's first orchestral work, signals the young composer's extraordinary command of expressive ideas and opulent harmonies.

”The Serenade, for string orchestra, has four warmly tuneful movements, including an opening march and a lilting waltz, and like the concerto it deserves to be a popular concert favorite. The Warsaw Philharmonic strings really dig into the music, playing with joyful gusto in the quick movements and with real soul in the Romance. The only drawback to this release is the comparatively short playing time (51 minutes), but given the quality of the music and the fine engineering, this hardly counts. Strongly recommended.”-Classicstoday.com

"Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic are ideal interpreters. At Naxos's super-budget price it really is an outstanding issue, readily competing with more expensive versions of the Violin Concerto." -Gramophone Magazine

"This...is above all emotional music. The Concerto is a score which wears its expressions fully...In this regard, the present recording could hardly be improved upon, for Ilya Kaler is a winning soloist who has the undoubted advantage of a fine and sympathetic orchestra under its gifted conductor, Antoni Wit. Kaler is well balanced with the orchestra and the acoustic of the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall is one which is admirably natural and warm." -International Record Review

The two pieces are played with all the affection and idiomatic feeling of those for whom they are musical mother's milk, and the concerto is fortunate to find such a sterling exponent as Ilya Kaler, who lavishes on it all his wonted gleaming, honeyed tone and impeccable technique and interpretive taste. The recorded sound is appropriately rich and warm, with a dollop of resonance. Finally, given that this CD is only half the price of competing performances, it is now an easy first choice for anyone seeking to acquire either work. Recommended to lovers of the lesser late-Romantic repertoire for its very real and enjoyable, if limited, charms.

American Record Guide
This is the seventh recording of the violin concerto... It's a beautiful piece and deserves the attention. Comparisons don't favor this new one. But I really like this concerto, and I assure you it's worth having.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, Warsaw, Poland.


Karlowicz music
When music lovers are asked to name Polish composers, they are likely to respond with names such as Chopin, Gorecki, Moniuszko, Paderewski, Szymanowski, and Wieniawski. Compared with these, Mieczyslaw Karlowicz (1876-1909) is still virtually unknown, although he is slowly gaining recognition as a late-Romantic composer whose music deserves to be better known. His obscurity is owing partly to his premature death; at age 33 he was killed by an avalanche while he was skiing in the Tatra mountains. Earlier recordings of his music, especially his Violin Concerto, have been available for many years, but his works have scarcely gained a foothold in the repertory. This new CD from Naxos, which couples his Violin Concerto, Op. 8 with his Serenade, Op. 2, will hopefully help to bring the music of a sadly neglected composer to more concert-goers. Ilya Kaler delivers a warm and sympathetic performance of the Violin Concerto with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under Antoni Wit. The Serenade, Op. 2 also receives an excellent performance. The recorded sound quality is up to Naxos’s usual high standards, and Richard Whitehouse’s annotations are very informative. Lovers of music of the late-Romantic era owe a dept of gratitude to conductor Antoni Wit and Naxos for bringing to us the music of Karlowicz on several bargain-priced CDs, of which this is the most recent. Heartily recommended - don't miss it! Ted Wilks
Submitted on 02/07/11 by Ted Wilks 
Interesting Polish Music
It is always fascinating to watch a talented young composer develop and grow--and horribly tragic when that promise is not fulfilled due to an untimely death. Such was the case with Mieczyslaw Karlowicz. Born in present day Lithuania in 1876, he studied in Berlin and Leipzig. His instrument was the violin, but his passion was for composition. With each new piece he demonstrated an increased mastery of form and musical content, culminating in a cycle of six majestic symphonic poems, splendidly recorded on Naxos 8.570295 and 8.570452. Karlowicz's music was profoundly influenced by Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss, and even Sibelius--not to mention lesser lights such as Robert Volkmann. Alas, he did not live long enough to fully throw off those diverse influences. An avalanche brought an abrupt end to his career during a skiing trip in the Tatras Mountains in 1909. The Serenade, one of Karlowicz's earliest scores, is a pleasant, unpretentious work in four short movements lasting just over 22 minutes. The masterly string writing is quite impressive for a 21 year old music student. There is also a wealth of melodic invention, although Karolowicz rarely allows his ideas to blossom fully. With the impatience of youth he moves all too quickly and abruptly from one idea to the next. On this disc, the usually reliable Antoni Wit leads a lackluster performance that does little to obscure the seams between the score's various sections. Far more smoothly flowing and persuasive is the recording by the Berlin Chamber Symphony on the EDA label. The Violin Concerto, completed less than five years after the Serenade, represents a quantum leap in the composer's development. The solo writing is confident and idiomatic (Karolowicz was, after all, an accomplished fiddler in his own right), and the orchestration is brilliant and bracing. The model was clearly Tchaikovsky's popular concerto and, alas, this score pales in comparison with its great predecessor. Still there is much to enjoy here, although one wishes (as with the Serenade) that Karlowicz had allowed more space to expand upon his themes and enable the melodies to soar. Soloist Ilya Kaler is a talented and critically-acclaimed artist, but here again I prefer an earlier recording--by violinist Konstanty Andrzej Kulka on Accord ACD071. The phrasing is smoother and the violin's fireworks are more effectively integrated into the musical fabric on that disc.
Submitted on 03/12/11 by Tom Godell 
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Works Details

>Karlowicz, Mieczyslaw : Serenade for string orchestra in C major, Op. 2
  • Conductor: Antoni Wit
  • Notes: Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, Warsaw, Poland (11/29/2008/12/06/2008)
  • Running Time: 21 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1897

>Karlowicz, Mieczyslaw : Concerto for Violin & orchestra in A major, Op. 8
  • Performer: Ilya Kaler (Violin)
  • Conductor: Antoni Wit
  • Notes: Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, Warsaw, Poland (02/03/2009-02/05/2009)
  • Running Time: 29 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Concerto