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Szymanowski: Songs of a Fairytale Princess, Harnasie, Love Songs of Hafiz

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Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Simon Rattle seems to have an ongoing love affair with the music of Karol Szymanowski, which results every few years in an irresistible recording like this one. Rattle appears especially drawn to Szymanowski's vocal music -- such as the Stabat Mater now justly established as one of EMI's Great Recordings of the Century and the opera King Roger -- and this album picks up that thread with three more works by the Polish master. Two orchestral song cycles, the Love Songs of Hafiz and Songs of a Fairy-tale Princess, find Szymanowski shutting out the traumas of the First World War by fleeing into sensuous, decadent beauty. No one could miss the influence of Debussy and Ravel ...
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2006-10-31 Audio CD New YOU are BUYING a NEW and SEALED CD. All CD orders sent via FIRST CLASS MAIL Service arriving in 3 to 5 business days in the United States only, Oversees ... orders may take up to 4 weeks! Buy it NOW! ! Read more Show Less

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Simon Rattle seems to have an ongoing love affair with the music of Karol Szymanowski, which results every few years in an irresistible recording like this one. Rattle appears especially drawn to Szymanowski's vocal music -- such as the Stabat Mater now justly established as one of EMI's Great Recordings of the Century and the opera King Roger -- and this album picks up that thread with three more works by the Polish master. Two orchestral song cycles, the Love Songs of Hafiz and Songs of a Fairy-tale Princess, find Szymanowski shutting out the traumas of the First World War by fleeing into sensuous, decadent beauty. No one could miss the influence of Debussy and Ravel on these works, with their refined tone colors and their exotic imagination, but even the leading lights of French impressionism rarely sustained their musical fantasies at Szymanowski's feverish pitch. Iwona Sobotka is the coloratura soprano in the Fairy-tale Princess, a work that turns its soloist into a mechanical doll, glistening among other brightly colored playthings. Based on 14th-century Persian poetry, the Hafiz songs are far more Romantic, with their kaleidoscopic orchestration enveloping the warm and passionate voice of mezzo-soprano Katarina Karnéus like the setting for a precious gemstone. Significantly different is the ballet-pantomime Harnasie, featuring a tenor soloist and a large chorus. This nationalistic work, written after the war, was inspired by the music and folklore of the Tatra Mountains; more vigorous and streamlined than the song cycles, it also shows a kinship to Stravinsky and Bartók. But even if the poets and princesses have been replaced by bandits and peasants in Harnasie, Szymanowski's style is as magical and unique as ever. Immensely flattering to an orchestra, the appeal of Szymanowski's music to a conductor like Rattle is easy to understand, and once again this esteem has resulted in an unusually satisfying recording.
All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
With this CD, Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus continue their traversal of the orchestral and dramatic works of Karol Szymanowski. They have become expert interpreters and passionate advocates for his work and deserve credit for bringing it to a broadening audience. The three works featured here, the ballet "Harnasie," and two orchestral song cycles, are notable for demonstrating Szymanowski's clear grasp of the difference between music written for the concert hall and for the theater. "Harnasie," scored for tenor, chorus, and orchestra, is narrative music as aptly conceived for dramatic presentation as Stravinsky's ballets and whose influence can be detected both in its structure and in the new gestural and orchestrational freedom Szymanowski unleashed in this work. The subject of the ballet is the abduction of a not-unwilling bride on her wedding night by the leader of a group of bandits in the Carpathian Mountains, and the score is flavored by the folk music of that region. Szymanowski's opulent, late-Romantic harmonic vocabulary and sweeping melodies are still prominent, but are even grander and more emotionally engaging in the service of the drama. The song cycles, "Songs of a Fairy-tale Princess" and "Love Songs of Hafiz," reveal Szymanowski's mastery of vocal writing and in creating shapely and affecting dramatic miniatures. The songs in the first set are extravagantly ornamented, using the full range of vocal acrobatics available to a coloratura, as is appropriate for the regal subject. The "Love Songs of Hafiz" have a Mahlerian emotional directness and harmonic palette that are filtered through a Slavic sensibility. Szymanowski's orchestration, particularly in his inventive and prominent use of percussion, makes this music distinctively his own. Rattle and the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus outdo themselves in presenting this music with energy and warmth. The soloists sing with passion and with an abandon that is ideal for the rhapsodic nature of the music and subject matter.
Gramophone - Arnold Whittall
Sumptuous.... The mesmerising allure and elaborate textural fantasy of the music are always tinglingly immediate.... This disc is undoubtedly a winner.
San Francisco Chronicle - Joshua Kosman
On this elegant, luxuriantly colored disc, Simon Rattle makes a brilliant case for two of Szymanowski's cycles.
The Guardian - Andrew Clements
Rattle is in his element organising [the music's] richly layered textures and keen-edged rhythms, and he frames the ballet with two of the sumptuously coloured oriental song-cycles from the war years, rapturously presented and sung.

Sumptuous.... The mesmerising allure and elaborate textural fantasy of the music are always tinglingly immediate.... This disc is undoubtedly a winner.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/31/2006
  • Label: Emi Classics
  • UPC: 094636443522
  • Catalog Number: 64435

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–3 Songs of A Fairy-Tale Princess, songs (6) for voice & piano (1,2 & 4 also orchestrated), Op. 31, M32 - Karol Szymanowski & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus (9:49)
  2. 4–14 Harnasie (The Highland Robbers), ballet pantomime for tenor, chorus & orchestra, Op. 55, M68 - Karol Szymanowski & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus (33:45)
  3. 15–22 Love Songs of Hafiz, songs (8) for tenor & orchestra, Op. 26, M28 - Karol Szymanowski & Hans Bethge (21:31)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Simon Rattle Primary Artist
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