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The Stabat Mater, one of Szymanowski’s most economical works, asserts his Polish identity far more convincingly than his four symphonies: it makes a valuable addition to Gardner’s Chandos series devoted to this hard-to-categorise early 20th century composer.

There is pain and poignancy in the music, but above all a deep expressive beauty, especially in the finale’s soaring soprano melody. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, with a quartet of soloists led by Lucy Crowe, give a performance of admirable sensitivity. Harnasie, a 35-minute ballet with choral interjections, vigorous folk rhythms and glimpses of Szymanowski’s sensuous style, has a more incidental character and offers fewer rewards.

Szymanowski

Stabat Mater, Harnasie

Edward Gardner

(Chandos)

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