Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Karol Szymanowski - Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 (Antoni Wit)


Composer: Karol Szymanowski
  • (01-09) Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op.19
  • (10-12) Symphony No. 3, Op. 27, 'Song of the Night'

Ewa Marczyk, violin solo (1-9)
Ryszard Minkiewicz, tenor (10-12)
Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra
Antoni Wit, conductor

Date: 2008
Label: Naxos



The composer’s love of exotic colours is exploited to the full by ‘home’ forces

Antoni Wit conducts his Warsaw forces in exceptionally warm and idiomatic performances of these two exotic symphonies, vividly recorded. They make an important addition to the Naxos catalogue. The more immediately attractive is No 3, subtitled Song of the Night, with its tenor solo and chorus adding to its impact. The poem which the tenor sings has the refrain “Do not sleep friend” and builds to the most powerful climax with Szymanowski's love of exotic orchestral colours exploited to the full. The thrust and passion of Wit's performance, splendidly supported by the clear_voiced tenor and the chorus, is impossible to resist, and leads to a second movement with hints of birdsong followed by a slow finale, a deep meditation.

The performance of No 2 in two movements, an opening Allegro followed by an extended set of variations, is equally persuasive. Again the first movement is passionate and thrustful and the variations bring some fascinating contrasts, ending with a powerful fugue. Antoni Wit's performance could not be more idiomatic, with singers and players totally inside the music. An outstanding issue.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone

More reviews:


Karol Szymanowski (6 October 1882 – 29 March 1937) was a Polish composer and pianist, the most celebrated Polish composer of the early 20th century. His career divided in 3 periods. The early works show the influence of the late Romantic German school as well as the early works of Alexander Scriabin. Later, he developed an impressionistic and partially atonal style. His third period was influenced by the folk music of the Polish Górale people. He is considered a member of the late 19th-/early 20th-century modernist movement Young Poland and widely viewed as one of the greatest Polish composers.


Antoni Wit (born February 7, 1944 in Kraków) is a Polish conductor. He studied conducting under Henryk Czyż and composition under Krzysztof Penderecki at the Kraków's Academy of Music. Wit went on to study in Paris under Nadia Boulanger. He has recorded over 90 albums, most of them for the Naxos label, and many of them with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, of which he managed and was artistic director from 1983 to 2000. Since year 2002 he has been music director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. Wit specializes in the works of Polish composers such as Henryk Gorecki, Witold Lutosławski, Karol Szymanowski and Krzysztof Penderecki.


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