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KARLOWICZ, M.: Symphonic Poems, Vol. 2 (Wit) - Powracajace fale / Smutna opowiesc / Odwieczne piesni

Composer(s):Karlowicz, Mieczyslaw
Artist(s) Wit, Antoni, Conductor • New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period(s) Romantic
Genre Classical Music
Category Orchestral
Catalogue 8.570295
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
Album Price
USD 6.99


Mieczysław Karłowicz’s six symphonic poems, composed between 1904-09, are the pinnacles of a career tragically ended when he perished in an avalanche during a solitary mountain hike. His fame as one of the outstanding Polish composers of his generation rests on these highly original, lushly-scored masterpieces, the first, second and fifth of which are included on this second volume. Bitterly criticised by contemporary Polish critics as examples of ‘modernist chaos’, these splendid Neo-Romantic works show both Karłowicz’s intense admiration for Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss, and the scale of his own achievement. Volume 1 is available on Naxos 8.570452.


Review By David Denton,Naxos,October 2008

This second volume of symphonic poems completes the major orchestral works of Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, his tragic early death robbing Poland of its most exciting new composer in the early 20th century. Born in 1876, the son of a wealthy Polish family, he was seemingly killed by an avalanche while skiing in the Tatra Mountains. Originally a violinist who turned his attention to composition, he had, by his death at thirty-five, shown he was among the outstanding late-Romantics. The present disc, which contains the First, Second and Fifth, completes the six massive tone poems. It was the inference of suicide as the possible scenario to the first two poems—Powracajace fale (Returning Waves) and Smutna opowiese (Preludia do wiecznosci) (A Sorrowful Tale (Preludes to that gave rise to conjecture that his death was not an accident. The fifth poem, Odwieczne piesni (Eternal Songs), is in three distinct movements, ending in hope of eternal life. Karlowicz was a master of orchestration that could turn less than promising thematic material into impassioned statements. Maybe if I were hypercritical I would point to the fact that he was obsessed by sadness, and though each piece passes through a wide dynamic range, that aspect is too frequently used. The first volume found Wit conducting his superb Warsaw National Philharmonic, and here he moves to the New Zealand Symphony who give him their all. They are not quite in the same exalted league, but are persuasive enough to continue my deep admiration for the composer. Certainly the New Zealand sound quality is outstanding.



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