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Karol Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 "The Song of the Night"; Love Songs of Hafiz / Ben Johnson, tenor; BBC SO, Gardner

Notes & Reviews:

Sunday Times, 30th November 2014
Johnson is a fine soloist [in the Songs of Hafiz], while Gardner's forces are ecstatic in these near-masterpieces; they also make a decent case for the disowned post-romantic First Symphony.

Gramophone Magazine, December 2014
Performances are particularly cosmopolitan. And why not? The works here reflect influences from many nationalities...Johnson, whose relatively lean voice (in contrast with the Eastern European sopranos sometimes heard in this piece) is very much responsive to the text's meaning.

The Telegraph, 24th November 2014
That magical moment where the solo tenor voice (Ben Johnson) floats in at the start of part 3 is exquisitely judged, heralding delicate images of nature and surging climaxes in which Gardner whips up the BBC chorus and orchestra into waves of elated passion.

BBC Music Magazine, February 2015
The BBC Symphony Chorus sings with languid exaltation, yet it is the orchestral detail that impresses most here, right from the still, mystery-laden opening...Gardner conducts with such conviction that it is impossible not to find beauty in [Love Songs'] potentially dense Reger-meets-Scriabin soundworld.

Edward Gardner returns with the BBC Symphony Orchestra to the intoxicating orchestral music of Karol Szymanowski in their third disc devoted to the composer. Their previous releases have been widely praised, Gardner being described in BBC Music Magazine as ‘one of the finest non-Polish interpreters of Szymanowski.’ Ben Johnson, a tenor whose star is rapidly rising, joins Gardner and the BBC SO here as a soloist in two works.

American Record Guide, March/April 2015
Here are three luxurious, finely played and sung pieces in very good modern sound. Ben Johnson is expressive, clear, and very easy to listen to. I'm sure someone will scream "Philistine!". I usually appreciate Szymanowski. The Third Symphony, Song of the Night, and the Love Songs are mature works, much more influenced by Debussy and Arabian and Persian cultures. Excellent notes in English, German, and French; texts in Polish and German with English translations.


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