Szymanowski – Warsaw Philharmonic
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937): Litany to the Virgin MaryStabat Mater; Symphony No. 3 ‘Song of the Night’
Soloists Aleksandra Kurzak, Agnieszka Rehlis, Artur Ruciński, and Dmitry Korchak with Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Jacek Kaspszyk – cond.
Warner Classics

In their follow-up to the Grammy-winning album “Penderecki conducts Penderecki,” the new album by the Warsaw Philharmonic features music by eminent Polish composer Karol Szymanowski. The performers are the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir under the baton of the Philharmonic’s artistic director, Jacek Kaspszyk, as well as outstanding soloists: soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, mezzosoprano Agnieszka Rehlis, baritone Artur Ruciński, and tenor Dmitry Korchak.

Szymanowski’s Litany to the Virgin MaryStabat Mater and Song of the Night were written between 1914 and 1933, which is considered to have been the most fruitful period in his creative life. Set to a poem by Jerzy Liebert (1904-1931)—a poet known for his love of lyrical verse on philosophical and religious subjects— Litany to the Virgin Mary is a piece which Szymanowski began to compose in 1930.

Stabat Mater, completed in 1926, was officially commissioned from Szymanowski by the Polish art collector Bronisław Krystall to commemorate his wife’s death. The work was inspired, however, by a tragic event that affected Szymanowski’s family. Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater holds a special place in the history of Polish music after Chopin. It exerted a powerful impact even on eminent composers working fifty years later, wrote Marcin Gmys, PhD, professor of Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

The last work on this CD—Symphony No. 3 ‘Song of the Night’ for solo voice, mixed choir and orchestra (1914-1916)—explores a whole new world of musical imagination, whose protagonist and speaker is an artist at first unable to express his own feelings.