Szymanowski – Warsaw Philharmonic
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937): Litany to the Virgin Mary; Stabat 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 (Mar 24, 2017); Available on Amazon.
The Guardian’s Erica Jeal gave a four-star rating to the Warsaw Philharmonic’s latest recording of Karol Szymanowski’s music, led by soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and Maestro Jacek Kaspszyk. Below is an excerpt from her review:
Jacek Kaspszyk lets loose the considerable forces of the Warsaw Philharmonic on three of Karol Szymanowski’s vocal works. [In the] introduction, there is Aleksandra Kurzak’s account of the unfinished Litany to the Virgin Mary, two mesmerizing songs sung with limpid beauty. The Stabat Mater, fragrant with incense, finely balances liturgical stateliness with a cathartic emotional tug (Szymanowski was mourning his young niece). Inflections of Polish folk music, glancing memories of North African travels – all are vividly conjured up by Kaspszyk and his players. The singers are excellent, the women of the choir igniting a glowing halo around Aleksandra Kurzak’s soaring soprano. The misleadingly titled Symphony No. 3 ‘Song of the Night’ has all the sensuousness of this but none of the restraint: Szymanowski throws everything at the setting of a 13th-century mystical Persian poet. The orchestra doesn’t hold back, but tenor Dmitry Korchak still scythes through it as he hymns the starry skies.
Norman Lebrecht of Musical Toronto also took notice of the recording, giving it four out of five stars and calling it “pure class… The international Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak opens with a Litany to the Virgin Mary that is slow, devout, soulful and twenty shades lighter than one might expect from a Polish Catholic ritual. Kurzak has never sounded sweeter or more comfortable on record.”