Hyperion Records

Szymanowski, Karol (1882-1937)  

Karol Szymanowski

born: 3 October 1882
died: 29 March 1937
country: Poland

Karol Szymanowski’s life and career may be seen, from our vantage point, as a twofold quest in which the personal and the national ran in parallel, or, perhaps, were intertwined. On the one hand, he was engaged in a typically post-Romantic search for self-realization as an artist, working towards a full development of his individual musical aims and sensibilities; while on the other, he came more and more to seek an authentic compositional voice that could be heard (one way or another) as distinctively Polish, and also as distinctively modern. Yet his intensity and subjectivism went hand in hand with a strong desire for a certain kind of resolved clarity in the finished musical form—classical finish achieved by another route, perhaps, as an expression of modernity. His aesthetic stance, or let us say more soberly his musical practice as a composer, was eclectic in a stylistic and technical sense. But the subtle power of his invention and his personal mode of utterance were resilient and original enough to absorb and individualize (rather than merely appropriate) such a range of influences, and so turn them to his own advantage.

An evident individualist, then, but one with a strong sense of broader values and endeavour, Szymanowski belonged to that long line of musical artists, spanning more than a generation, who were working towards a type of cultural renewal that could embrace the collective together with the individual. In doing so, these musicians hoped to usher in a new stage—indeed, a new era—of cultural development. If some of the more radical innovations of Dvorák and especially Liszt, in their later years, may be seen as early evidence of this tendency, during the later nineteenth century it was perhaps most marked and widespread in Russia. Expressed in all these cases, albeit in different ways, was the opposition of a national ethos to the received and (as it seemed) overbearing ethos of the dominant Austro-German tradition. Such a project of cultural renewal meant, in part, to restore a sense of authenticity to art music through a process of transformative contact with folk traditions, not so as to produce ‘decorative’ folkloric or exotic results, but so as to radicalize the musical substance itself, including its style and its rhetoric of gesture. This was the direction taken by composers such as Bartók and Janácek, though in all such cases (and this is true of Szymanowski too) they reached the point of engagement with folk idioms, and the new kind of modernism it made possible for them, only after having explored the ‘moderns’ of the German tradition—Strauss, Reger et al—to which Szymanowski added his lifelong passion for Scriabin and for the French manner of Debussy and Ravel.

from notes by Philip Weller © 2009

'Szymanowski & Różycki: String Quartets' (CDA67684)
Szymanowski & Różycki: String Quartets
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67684 
'Szymanowski: Complete music for violin & piano' (CDA67703)
Szymanowski: Complete music for violin & piano
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67703 
'Szymanowski: Masques, Métopes & Études' (CDA67886)
Szymanowski: Masques, Métopes & Études
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67886  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Szymanowski: Piano Music' (CDH55081)
Szymanowski: Piano Music
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55081  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Szymanowski: The Complete Mazurkas' (CDA67399)
Szymanowski: The Complete Mazurkas
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67399  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Różycki & Szymanowski: String Quartets' (CDA67684)
Różycki & Szymanowski: String Quartets
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67684 
On other labels
'Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos 1 & 2' (LSO0731)
Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos 1 & 2
LSO0731  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos 3 & 4' (LSO0739)
Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos 3 & 4
LSO0739  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
12 Études, Op 33 (Szymanowski)
4 Études, Op 4 (Szymanowski)
Calypso  No 2 of Métopes 'Trois Poèmes', Op 29 (Szymanowski)
Chrystus niech mi będzie grodem  Movement 6 of Stabat mater, Op 53 (Szymanowski)
Dryades et Pan  No 3 of Mythes 'Trois Poèmes', Op 30 (Szymanowski)
Fantasy in F minor, Op 14 (Szymanowski)
Four Polish Dances (Szymanowski)
I któż widział tak cierpiącą  Movement 2 of Stabat mater, Op 53 (Szymanowski)
La fontaine d'Aréthuse  No 1 of Mythes 'Trois Poèmes', Op 30 (Szymanowski)
La Sérénade de Don Juan  No 3 of Masques, Op 34 (Szymanowski)
L'île des Sirènes  No 1 of Métopes 'Trois Poèmes', Op 29 (Szymanowski)
Lullaby 'La Berceuse d'Aïtacho Enia', Op 52 (Szymanowski)
Masques, Op 34 (Szymanowski)
Métopes 'Trois Poèmes', Op 29 (Szymanowski)
Mythes 'Trois Poèmes', Op 30 (Szymanowski)
Narcisse  No 2 of Mythes 'Trois Poèmes', Op 30 (Szymanowski)
Nausicaa  No 3 of Métopes 'Trois Poèmes', Op 29 (Szymanowski)
Nocturne and Tarantella, Op 28 (Szymanowski)
O Matko Źródło Wszechmiłości  Movement 3 of Stabat mater, Op 53 (Szymanowski)
Panno słodka racz mozołem  Movement 5 of Stabat mater, Op 53 (Szymanowski)
Romance in D major, Op 23 (Szymanowski)
Shéhérazade  No 1 of Masques, Op 34 (Szymanowski)
Spraw niech płaczę z Tobą razem  Movement 4 of Stabat mater, Op 53 (Szymanowski)
Stabat mater, Op 53 (Szymanowski)
Stała Matka bolejąca  Movement 1 of Stabat mater, Op 53 (Szymanowski)
String Quartet No 1 in C major, Op 37 (Szymanowski)
String Quartet No 2, Op 56 (Szymanowski)
Symphony No 1 in F minor, Op 15 (Szymanowski)
Symphony No 2 in B flat major, Op 19 (Szymanowski)
Symphony No 3 in B flat major 'Song of the Night', Op 27 (Szymanowski)
Symphony No 4 'Symphonie concertante', Op 60 (Szymanowski)
Tantris le Bouffon  No 2 of Masques, Op 34 (Szymanowski)
Three Paganini Caprices, Op 40 (Szymanowski)
Twenty Mazurkas, Op 50 (Szymanowski)
Two Mazurkas, Op 62 (Szymanowski)
Valse romantique (Szymanowski)
Violin Sonata in D minor, Op 9 (Szymanowski)
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