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SZYMANOWSKI: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 (Wit)

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2011


Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra

Wit, Antoni

Antoni Wit


Ryszard Minkiewicz


Warsaw Philharmonic Choir


Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Poland

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 60:41
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SZYMANOWSKI: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 (Wit)



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Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19

1 I. Allegro moderato - Grazioso 13:01
 Antoni Wit Conductor
2 II. Theme: Lento - 1:26
 Antoni Wit Conductor
3 II. Variation 1: L'istesso tempo - 1:19
 Antoni Wit Conductor
4 II. Variation 2: L'istesso tempo - 1:54
 Antoni Wit Conductor
5 II. Variation 3: Scherzando. Molto vivace - 2:39
 Antoni Wit Conductor
6 II. Variation 4: Tempo di gavotte - 2:46
 Antoni Wit Conductor
7 II. Variation 5: Tempo di minuetto - 2:45
 Antoni Wit Conductor
8 II. Variation 6: Vivace e capriccioso - 1:21
 Antoni Wit Conductor
9 II. Fuga 7:30
 Antoni Wit Conductor

Symphony No. 3, Op. 27, "Piesn o nocy" (The Song of the Night)

10 I. Moderato assai 8:39
 Ryszard Minkiewicz Soloist
11 II. Allegretto tranquillo 7:35
 Ryszard Minkiewicz Soloist
12 III. Largo 9:46
 Ryszard Minkiewicz Soloist
 Wit, Antoni

Composed in 1910, at a time when Szymanowski was influenced by Richard Strauss, Reger and Scriabin, the unusually structured Symphony No. 2 is a work of great power and invention, with many passionate and varied contrasts in its use of solo instruments, in particular the violin. Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Song of the Night’, in which orchestra, tenor and choir are subtly blended in a continuous web of intoxicating sound, is a ravishing setting of a Polish translation of a poem by the great medieval Persian mystic known as Mevlânâ, our Master, Jalal ad-Din, which evokes the mysteries and beauty of a starlit Persian night.

                    Artistic Quality 9     Sound Quality 9

"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 large acoustic that so benefits the Third Symphony also blunts the edge of this purely instrumental piece…very enjoyable (and very inexpensive) disc should satisfy any fan of this splendid but still underrated composer."

David Hurwitz - - June 2008

"Noted when Wit’s tilt at Szymanowski’s violin concertos, with Ilya Kaler, appeared (Naxos 8.557981), his slant is the composer’s sheer sensuousness—here, dwelling deliciously over the Second Symphony’s heaving and swelling, and bringing a crimson flush to the empurpled raptures of Song of the Night. If the former is occasionally lurid, its trajectory nearly submerged in a sea of harmony, while the latter flirts with garish bombast, those flamboyant excesses are native to the score. …Naxos’s spacious aural perspective is wallopingly fronted with string buzz and hum, but leaves Song of the Night’s all-important melismatic woodwind colloquies in middling recess—atmospheric perhaps, but a distant blur…Wit’s climactic moments are cataclysmically brutal…Wit’s way with these works affords lingering charms, while the sound in which they’re captured, if not optimum, is more than serviceable...Recommended, anyway."

Adrian Corleonis - Fanfare - September 2008

"Wit keeps the musicians on course…All credit to the engineers for keeping it all in focus and sustaining that huge orchestral weight.The chorus sings with passion and unanimity, cutting through the music’s more diffuse textures. They are a fine collection of singers, having played a key part in the success of the Naxos Mahler 8. Wit held that great structure together admirably and he does the same here, building up to that blazing peroration that begins at 6:35. This is incredibly sensuous music, played with panache... The tenor Ryszard Minkiewicz sounds suitably transported in ‘So quiet, others sleep... / I and God alone in the night’ and is even audible above the outburst at 1:30. What follows is altogether more diaphanous, a sense of barely suppressed ecstasy that grows to a light-drenched climax before fading to a serene close. There is plenty of sinew and muscle in this symphony and no excess fat, which translates into a much more robust, individual and engaging work.Szymanowski fans need not hesitate, if only to savour this captivating ‘Song of the Night’... this new Naxos disc is very welcome indeed. Another triumph for Maestro Wit and his busy Warsaw band."

Dan Morgan - - May 2008

"... The Polish Scriabin goes into overdrive in these deliriously sensual scores, climaxing in the ’Song of the night’s’ hedonistically pulsating finale."

Julian Haylock - Classic FM - May 2008

"Antoni Wit conducts his Warsaw forces in exceptionally warm and idiomatic performances of these two exotic symphonies, vividly recorded. They make an important addition to the Naxos catalogue. The more immediately attractive is No 3, subtitled Song of the Night, with its tenor solo and chorus adding to its impact. The poem which the tenor sings has the refrain "Do not sleep friend" and builds to the most powerful climax with Szymanowski’s love of exotic orchestral colours exploited to the full. The thrust and passion of Wit’s performance, splendidly supported by the clear-voiced tenor and the chorus, is impossible to resist, and leads to a second movement with hints of birdsong followed by a slow finale, a deep meditation.

The performance of No 2 in two movements, an opening Allegro followed by an extended set of variations, is equally persuasive. Again, the first movement is passionate and thrustful and the variations bring some fascinating contrasts, ending with a powerful fugue. Antoni Wit’s performance could not be more idiomatic, with singers and players totally inside the music. An outstanding issue."

Edward Greenfield - Gramophone magazine -  May 2008

            Editor’s Choice

"... Antoni Wit ...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 Magazine - April 2008

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