Review by nickc March 22, 2014 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
|Sybaritic decadence, a sort of whirling dervish of Oriental mysticism so beloved of early twentieth century Europeans, or a last efflorescence of hyper-extended chromaticism before the stern and unbending Schoenberg and his acolytes scythed any wonder or transcendence from music?
Even the name Szymanowski conjures up wondrous, Kublai Khanish realms to me!
The Song of the Night is inflected and infused with the rhythms and spices of Persia, a great Sufic paean, a Rachmaninovian Bells mediated via the perfume of Isfahan, the first and third movements have the tenor soaring ecstatically over hushed choral murmurings, surrounding a lush central episode.
The Symphonie Concertante is a piano concerto in all but name. Here we have travelled west to pre-Second World War Paris, a sec Poulenc hovering in the background. The slow movement has hints of Bartok (Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste), though with hints of exoticism that Les Six or Bartok himself would never have sanctioned.
When the choir expands in the 3rd symphony is seems we are in a massive space, those that love the Chandos approach will be in heaven here. The last moments have an underpinning of organ that you can feel subliminally and majestically. The piano (the hardest instrument to record) in the 4th symphony is pearly and present.
For years I have gone to my old Simon Rattle EMI traversal, recorded in the fantastic Birmingham acoustic, but I think Wit even outshines him here.
If you are jaded by yet another Mahler integrale, I would definitely recommend this BDA as a stimulant, a guide to regions not often travelled here in the insular West.
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