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Patrick P.L. Lam
Audiophile Audition, April 2012

Compositions featured in this album, the Symphony No. 3 (Op. 27) and Symphony No. 4 (Op. 60)…are characterized by their strong Polish folk idioms. The latest Naxos audio-only Blu-ray, with Polish conductor Antoni Wit and his Polish team of soloists and orchestral musicians of the Warsaw Philharmonic, highlight these elements in their most apt and natural of ways.

The Symphony No. 3 ‘Song of the Night’ was completed in 1916, shortly after the war. Szymanowski immersed himself in the literature of the Ancient Greeks and the religious texts of Christianity and Islam for the conception of this work. Emotional, even ecstatic music conveys the poem’s supernatural vision of night and its unravelling of the mystery of God. Antoni Wit and his musicians emerged victorious with the aid of Naxos’ DTS-HD lossless audio. The human elements of ecstasy and fantasy, as Szymanowski portrayed with his exotic orchestration of wind instruments in the center section of the piece, immersed right out of the Warsaw Philharmonic concert hall in fine acoustics; it is captured sufficiently similar to what one may experience in person in a live concert performance at the Warsaw venue.

The Symphony No. 4 “Symphonie Concertante,” for piano and orchestra, was written late in the composer’s life in 1932. One may expect this piece to be mournful in nature, written only to be five years short of the composer’s death at 55. In contrast, with a delightful twist, Szymanowski brings a breath of new life in the piece, probing deep into the framework of neoclassicism. It conveys endless creativity, beginning with the very concept of a symphony-concerto hybrid, to the multitude of dance-folded rhythms and innovative contemporary innovations as examples. Out of the three movement work, the final movement, Allegro non troppo, ma agitato ed ansioso in this performance with pianist Jan Krzysztof Broja, shines off with the greatest delight. With this movement’s expressionistic sweeps of melodic interchange between the piano and the orchestra, Broja brings a calm intensity and secures the technically demanding virtuosic piano parts; meanwhile, Wit and his musicians give soaring textures and voluptuous outbursts that are audaciously powerful but never overwhelming. The outcome of this collaboration brings a performance that is accurate with repeated blazes of energy and soaring intensity. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Lawrence Schenbeck
PS Tracks, October 2011

Naxos continues its Blu-Ray rollout with a disc of two Szymanowski symphonies, No. 3…and No. 4…These are virtually self-recommending, as conductor Antoni Wit’s performances were so fondly received in their initial CD form… © 2011 PS Tracks Read complete review

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