This disc contains some of Szymanowski’s most overtly sensual and vividly gestural music; his lush, exotic textures intensified and crystallized in miniature. From the early Violin Sonata in D minor onwards, evidence of the composer’s unusual brilliance in writing for solo violin is paramount. The Romance in D major Op 23 (1910), first performed in Warsaw in April 1913, already reveals a considerable advance towards the exotic, strangely inward exaltation of mature works. In the extraordinary Mythes (1915).
The music of contemporary French composer Karol Beffa takes us through the mirror into a dream world that is at once strange and intimately familiar. It invites us to explore inner harmony and rhythm. This new recording includes 'Into the Dark', 'Rainbow', 'Dédales' for piano and string orchestra and 'Nuit obscure' for string orchestra and voice. Gorgeously executed by Ensemble Contraste under the direction of Johan Farjot, this recording features mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes, harpist Emmanuel Ceysson, violist Arnaud Thorette and the composer on piano.
This 2004 survey of modern settings of the medieval sequence Stabat Mater Dolorosa is part of conductor Marcello Viotti's project to record the little-known but worthy sacred works of the twentieth century, in conjunction with the Munich Radio Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Chorus for their concert series Paradisi gloria. The four works by Francis Poulenc, Karol Szymanowski, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Wolfgang Rihm are dramatically different in conception and musical content, and may be regarded more as reflections of personal faith than as practical works for ecclesiastical purposes.
Kasper Holten’s production (The Royal Opera’s first) of Król Roger (King Roger) brought the opera back to the London stage after an absence of almost 40 years. Karol Szymanowski’s masterpiece powerfully presents the dilemmas of culture versus nature and man versus beast, and movingly depicts King Roger’s inner struggles as he moves from an impossible life of repressed desires to the other extreme, giving in to his own demons. Meanwhile, Roger’s people, seduced by the promises of the mysterious Shepherd, are drawn towards totalitarianism and repression. Antonio Pappano conducts Szymanowksi’s opulent and beautiful score, with a cast including Mariusz Kwiecień as Roger (one of the greatest interpreters of the role today), Saimir Pirgu as the Shepherd, and Georgia Jarman in her Royal Opera debut as Roger’s loving queen Roxana.