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CHAN 10298
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CHAN 10298

Karlowicz: Returning Waves/ A Sorrowful Tale/Episode at a Masquerade

The Classical Shop
release date: October 2005

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2005


BBC Philharmonic

Gianandrea Noseda


Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester


Brian Pidgeon

Mike George


Stephen Rinker

Tom Parnell

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 59:18
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Returning Waves, Op. 9

  Symphonic poem  
1 Andante - 4:25
2 [Andante] - 2:02
3 Andante assai - 5:36
4 Andantino - 6:35
5 Andante 5:22

A Sorrowful Tale, Op. 13

  (Preludes to Eternity)  
  Lento lugubre - Moderato assai - Tempo I -  

Episode at a Masquerade, Op. 14

  Symphonic poem  
7 Allegro maestoso - Molto agitato - 6:52
8 Molto lento - 7:54
9 Andante - 1:47
10 Allegro maestoso - Molto agitato - 3:47
11 Molto lento 4:39
The compositions of Mieczys /law Kar/lowicz reflect his admiration for the music of Bruckner, Grieg, Richard Strauss and Tchaikovsky and are characterised by late-romantic sumptuousness.

This is the final volume in Chandos’ series of orchestral works by Karlowicz. The previous releases have generated a huge surge of interest in this neglected composer.

Previous volumes have been chosen as ‘Disc of the Year’ by The Daily Telegraph, ‘Record of the Month’ by Gramophone and ‘Pick of the Month’ by BBC Music Magazine.

Gianandrea Noseda’s work to date with the BBC Philharmonic has been rapturously received.

Karlowicz finished the first of his six symphonic poems, Returning Waves, in 1904. With it, he established the melancholy tone characteristic of much of his mature work. In accompanying notes he spoke of gazing at ‘lifeless ice crystals on the window pane’; a similar image was used by Turgenev, his favourite writer, in An Unhappy Girl, in which unrequited love leads the heroine to take her own life. Karlowicz’s subject is overwhelmed by memories of a young woman, the happiness she seemed to promise, and her eventual rejection of him. The composer was undoubtedly inspired in part by his own unhappy experiences. The work consists of an introduction and four main sections, including a waltz of hedonistic abandon with clear echoes of Richard Strauss, the one contemporary composer whom Karlowicz admired.

A Sorrowful Tale, an explicit portrayal of a suicidal state of mind, was composed in 1908, possibly in response to the suicide of the dramatist Jozafat Nowinski, for whom Karlowicz had provided incidental music for The White Dove. Though A Sorrowful Tale continues and ‘completes’ the narrative of Returning Waves, the final words of the programme and the subtitle – Preludes to Eternity – hint at the consolation of Nirvana already expressed in the composer’s Eternal Songs. In this work there is a move towards a more intense style that verges on the expressionistic, evident in extreme contrasts of tone-colour and the often tonally indeterminate and markedly dissonant idiom.

Work on Episode at a Masquerade started in February 1908 but was left unfinished at Karlowicz’s death. It was completed only in 1913 by the conductor and composer Grzegorz Fitelberg. According to Chybinski, the work concerned an encounter between former lovers in the midst of a ‘riotous, boisterous, Dionysian but banal’ masquerade. Painful recollections of their past love revive, and their feelings for one another are rekindled. Alas, they are ‘torn apart by the whirlwind of hideous ballroom activity’, and never meet again.

The BBC Philharmonic’s playing and Chandos’s recording uphold their customary high standards…
Gramophone ‘Disc of the Month’ on CHAN 10171

The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra plays with typical musicianship and commitment for its dynamic conductor, and the recording is equally typical in being resonant and ripe.
International Record Review on CHAN 10171

…a must-hear experience for any admirer of late Romanticism.
BBC Music Magazine ‘Pick of the Month’ on CHAN 9986

He is an excellent conductor, and I can’t imagine better performances…
American Record Guide

I would suggest that Karlowicz, in spite of his admiration for Tchaikovsky, is closest to Richard Strauss. He is also, in mood and melancholy, similar to Josef Suk. His tone poems cannot be heard back to back without experiencing an excess of theatrical moodiness. I seem to recall a story that Dvorak told Suk to go away and compose something **** cheerful; the result was his serenade. Karlowicz sadly lacked a friend or mentor to give him some similar advice. Heard singly these pieces suggest the memory of sorrow in a desperately maintained tranquility. Previous generations might have felt the composer needed a cold shower and a good long cross-country run, but Karlowicz does have both charm and ability sufficient to disarm such criticism. It is easy to feel that late romanticism, like a third rate library, is sold by the yard. To avoid this the performers must throw themselves into the music and make it feel fresh minted. Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic have this gift. For some time they have set the benchmark for the late romantic orchestral repertoire, handling the giants, such as Rachmaninov or Prokofiev, and the national masters such as Respighi, Smetana or Dallapiccola. This release is well up to that standard, and bears the hallmark of Chandos recording, a rich and sonorous sound stage.
W Dodd

K Francis

B Loder