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April 6   -   Guardian

Jacek Kaspszyk: Szymanowski CD review – mournful, mystical and mesmerising

Kurzak/Rehlis/Korchak/Rucinski/Warsaw Philharmonic (Warner Classics)

Jacek Kaspszyk lets loose the considerable forces of the Warsaw Philharmonic on three of Karol Szymanowski’s vocal works. 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. As introduction there is Kurzak’s account of the unfinished Litany to the Virgin Mary, two mesmerising songs sung with limpid beauty.

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