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Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 / Valery Gergiev, London SO

Album Summary

>Szymanowski, Karol : Symphony no 1 in F minor, Op. 15, M15
>Szymanowski, Karol : Symphony no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19, M24
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Valery Gergiev explores the intense expression, fervor and spirituality of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski with his first recording of the composer's Symphonies Nos.1 & 2. For decades, Szymanowski's music was rarely heard outside Poland. Today, he is recognized as one of Poland's greatest musical figures. These first two symphonies, both unconventional in style and format, make for an enthralling listening experience and provide insight into Szymanowski's ecstatic musical character. His first symphony is drenched in evocative Romanticism and is an extremely powerful and emotionally intense composition. His second, a chamber-like work, artfully interweaves layer upon layer of seemingly disparate musical ideas to form a complex tapestry that became one of the composer's favorite of his own works.

Classical Source
Here was the LSO in persuasive form doing full justice to hothouse music that owes most to Max Reger and breathes similar and contemporaneous air to Richard Strauss's Elektra and Salome and to Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy.

The Arts Desk, 8th July 2013
It can't be easy to play, and Valery Gergiev's LSO sound is technically brilliant, if a little cool emotionally...Fascinating, if uneven music - one hopes that Gergiev's Barbican performances of Symphonies 3 and 4 will be released soon.

Gramophone Magazine, September 2013
Being a natural inheritor of Scriabinesque exoticism, Szymanowski is bound to bring out the best in Scriabin's most imaginative interpreters, which is why Valery Gergiev proves such a convincing interpreter of both works. He draws excellent playing from the London Symphony Orchestra.

MusicWeb International, 6th September 2013
All strength to Gergiev for allowing us to judge for ourselves by presenting the best possible case for [the First].

James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 3rd June 2013
Both symphonies allow ample opportunity for the LSO strings to show off their rich, deep sound, especially in some of the more tender, lyrical sections...The volatile nature of both works, but especially the First Symphony, suits Gergiev extremely well..If you're curious about exploring a new composer, and you like big, powerful, ecstatic orchestral music then this is a great disc to try out.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Barbican, London (09/2012/10/2012).


Gergiev and LSO Shine
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.

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.

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.

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.

Although a live recording, the performances by the London Symphony Orchestra are immaculate. An excellent addition to LSO's self-released catalog.
Submitted on 08/26/13 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Szymanowski, Karol : Symphony no 1 in F minor, Op. 15, M15
  • Conductor: Valery Gergiev
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Barbican, London (09/22/2012/10/11/2012)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 47 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1906-1907
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Szymanowski, Karol : Symphony no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19, M24
  • Conductor: Valery Gergiev
  • Notes: Barbican, London (09/23/2012/10/13/2012)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1909-1910
  • Studio/Live: Live