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January 25, 2013 7:18 pm
Building on the deserved success of Gardner’s Lutoslawski series, Chandos launches a CD cycle devoted to another Polish composer – one whose merits are much more contested. Should Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) rank as an unjustly neglected master, or a poor Polish cousin of Stravinsky, Scriabin and Janácek?
In these studio performances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Gardner makes a stronger case for Szymanowski than Valery Gergiev did in his recent concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra. He clarifies the textures, tautens the musical lines and generates heat and light amid the swaths of steamy moderato. Louis Lortie is the scintillating piano soloist in the concertante sections of the Fourth Symphony.
If a case is to be made for Szymanowski, this is it – but it’s still not enough to convince me his music is anything more than a heavily orchestrated vacuum.
Symphonies 2 & 4
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