Szymanowski: Symphonies No 2 And 3 / Wit, Et Al

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The composer's love of exotic colours is exploited to the full by 'home' forces

As he reveals in an interview in this issue, Antoni Wit is one of the world’s best-selling conductors, and yet he is very far from the celebrity of an Abbado or a Haitink. Less charismatic than either of those, perhaps, but as he shows here once again he has a exceptional talent for inhabiting a composer’s sound world. These are performances of great affection and, typically for Wit, sound totally idiomatic.

-- Gramophone [5/2008]

Antoni Wit almost always can be relied on to deliver very thoughtful, beautifully musical, even inspired results, and there's no question that he conducts these works extremely well. The performances of both symphonies have a confidence and warmth about them that bespeaks a thorough understanding of Szymanowski's richly textured idiom. The Song of the Night (a.k.a. Symphony No. 3) has many of the same qualities that made Wit's Mahler Eighth so special: terrific choral singing, a bigness of conception that never precludes physical excitement, and very natural balances between vocal and instrumental forces.

The Straussian Second Symphony is a much tougher work conceptually, and here it seems to me that Wit could have asked for a sharper rhythmic edge to the string playing in the first movement, and perhaps a bit more contrast between the variations of the finale. The large acoustic that so benefits the Third Symphony also blunts the edge of this purely instrumental piece, but the fact is that a good deal of the problem lies with the work itself--its not quite resolved conflict between structure and musical idiom--and Wit's performance remains as fine as any currently available. Certainly this very enjoyable (and very inexpensive) disc should satisfy any fan of this splendid but still underrated composer.

--David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8570721

  • UPC: 747313072170

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Karol Szymanowski

  • Conductor: Antoni Wit

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Performer: Ryszard Minkiewicz