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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Soprano Aleksandra Kurzak Has Never Sounded Sweeter

By Norman Lebrecht on April 13, 2017

Szymanowski: Litany to the Virgin Mary Op. 59, Stabat Mater op. 53, Symphony No. 3 Op. 27 “Song of the Night”
Szymanowski: Litany to the Virgin Mary Op. 59, Stabat Mater op. 53, Symphony No. 3 Op. 27 “Song of the Night”

Karol Szymanowski; Stabat Mater, 3rd symphony (Warner)

★★★★ (out of five)

Never a big Easter bunny, I generally receive the springtime festival releases with the same excitement as I’d feel about a Placido Domingo Christmas record. What comes round, comes round.

This one, however, is pure class.

The international Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak opens with a Litany to the Virgin Mary that is slow, devout, soulful and twenty shades lighter than one might expect from a Polish Catholic ritual. Kurzak has never sounded sweeter or more comfortable on record.

The little-known Litany is followed by the more familiar Stabat Mater and capped with Szymanowski’s third symphony, the ‘Song of the Night’ with a tenor solo that may have given Gorecki the idea decades later to employ a mystic mezzo in his own third symphony.

The route from Papal incantations to Sufi ruminations is not an obvious one, but then Szymanowski was never one for taking the direct line on the musical map. His sound is formidably synthetic. He dips his pen in Debussy, Stravinsky, Scriabin and possibly Schoenberg in the course of a symphony that is altogether his own. Dmitry Korchak is the heroic tenor. Jacek Kaspszyk conducts the first-rate Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and chorus. This is as Polish as bigos and bagels, the real deal. Beats the next ten Chopin releases right off the rack.

Karol Szymanowski; Stabat Mater, 3rd symphony (Warner) is available at Amazon.ca and iTunes.

For more weekly reviews by Norman Lebrecht, see HERE.

Visit Slipped Disc HERE.

#LUDWIGVAN

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
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Ludwig Van Toronto

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Two Lost Composers For Lost Times

By Norman Lebrecht on July 17, 2020

The only connection between composers Feinberg and Winterberg is their victimisation and the last syllable of their names. Both were silenced for political reasons; neither has found due recognition.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | Making A Case For Dutilleux

By Norman Lebrecht on July 10, 2020

Quart de nuit (Deux-Elles) by the Ruysdael Quartet is a fine album that leaves me wanting more, more Dutilleux, especially.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | A Schnittke And Kapustin Revival By Cello

By Norman Lebrecht on July 31, 2020

The compositions of Nikolai Kapustin and Alfred Schnittke see a revival via works for cello in this recent recording by German cellist Eckart Runge and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.
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