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Szymanowski: Stabat Mater [CD]

Karol Szymanowski , Karol Stryja , Polish State Philharmonic Chorus , Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra , Jadwiga Gadulanka , et al. Audio CD
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Product details

  • Performer: Jadwiga Gadulanka, Krystyna Szostek-Radkowa, Andrzej Hiolski, Barbara Zogórzanka
  • Orchestra: Polish State Philharmonic Chorus, Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Karol Stryja
  • Composer: Karol Szymanowski
  • Audio CD (4 April 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000014EU
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,394 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Stabat Mater, Op. 53: I. Stabat mater dolorosa / Stala matka bolejaca: Andante mestoJadwiga Gadulanka 7:49£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Stabat Mater, Op. 53: II. Quis est homo qui non fleret / I ktoz widzac tak cierpiaca: ModeratoKarol Stryja 3:05£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Stabat Mater, Op. 53: III. Eia Mater, fons amoris / O Matka, zrodlo wszechmilosci: Lento dolcissimoJadwiga Gadulanka 4:53£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Stabat Mater, Op. 53: IV. Fac me tecum pie flere / Spraw, niech placze z Toba razem: ModeratoKarol Stryja 3:49£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Stabat Mater, Op. 53: V. Virgo virginum praeclara / Panno slodka, racz mozolem: AllegroAndrzej Hiolski 3:15£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Stabat Mater, Op. 53: VI. Christe, cum sit hinc exire / Chrystus niech mi bedzie grodem: Andante tranquillissimoKarol Stryja 5:18£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Veni Creator, Op. 57Karol Stryja10:40Album Only
Listen  8. Litania do Marii Panny (Litany to the Virgin Mary), Op. 59: Litania do Marii Panny, Op. 59Karol Stryja 9:02Album Only
Listen  9. Demeter, Op. 37bKarol Stryja 7:35£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Penthesilea, Op. 18Roma Owsinska 6:51£0.79  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Veni Creator, op. 57 - Litanie à la Vierge Marie, op. 59 - Demeter, op. 37b - Penthesilea, op. 18 / Orchestre Philharmonique de l'Etat de Pologne et Chœur, dir. Karol Stryja

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
All these works are in the same vein of Slavic, Orthodox, or Byzantine mysticism or spirituality and could well be one long work. The 'Stabat' is cold and remote till the end when there is a reconciliation with fate or the human condition when the music becomes warmer, more 'beautiful' and less 'sublime'.
But the big climax comes with the second work 'Come Creator Spirit' where we have the nearest thing to 'the big tune' although it's not so much a tune as a sequence of descending figures or scales. This work of less than 10 mins is an epiphany in which 'beauty' and the 'sublime' are inextricably combined in a way that leaves me dumbstruck. Mahler was inspired in a more grandiose and rousing way by the same text in the first movement of the 8th Symphony. It is worth buying this disc for this work alone but it works all the better for coming after the 'Stabat Mater'.
The sequence on this disc is very well thought out with the epiphany naturally coming after the experiences with which the 'Stabat' is concerned, - and with the pieces after 'Veni' all containing musical reminiscences of the descending figures so that they serve as traces, or reflections in the memory, of the epiphany itself.

'Veni' is also closely related musically, thematically and in ethos to the ravishingly beautiful 1st Violin Concerto, and certainly in ethos to the 3rd Symphony, the 'Song Of The Night': all are examples of Night Music, a preoccupation of Romanticism and even found in Bartok and in effect in Shostakovitch.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely Moving Sabat Mater 22 Jan 2003
By Christopher Forbes - Published on
Format:Audio CD
The Stabat Mater, a medieval poem describing the feelings of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, has recieved countless settings by composers throughout the years. It is a tempting text for choral composition, as it is a very emotional text, the musical equivalent of the Pieta in art. And yet, it is actually an incredibly difficult text to set. The poetic meter is almost too strong to set well to music, and the dangling Latin participles create a stasis in the poetic rhythm that often can make settings of the text rather boring. But when at their best, they can be the most moving works in the sacred music repertoire. Szymakowski's Stabat Mater is up there with the great ones.
Szymanowski is still a lesser known composer outside of Poland, even though he was prolific and quite important in his day. He began his career as a composer of late romantic music with influences of Strauss and Wagner mixed in with Chopin, particularly in his best known piano music. Somewhere around the composition of his 2nd symphony in the early 1900's he became highly influenced by Scriabin, Debussy, and perhaps even Busoni. His music took on a greater "exotic" quality, as adventurous in it's own way as anything coming out of Vienna at the time. Later in his career he became more folkloric. As is evidenced in his 4th symphony, he began a more serious investigation of Polish folk music which he molded into an idiom that, while showing influence of Bartok and Stravinsky, is totally his own.
This breakdown of Szymanowski's music into periods is actually less obvious in the music. His earliest music bares the stamp of chromaticism that came to the forefront in the middle period and never is wholely absent in his final music. This is obvious in the Stabat Mater. The work is a late one. There are obvious parallels to Polish liturgical music (an area of music that deserves it's own study. It's as rich as the more well known Orthodox chant.) Much of the work is in a modal idiom which is enriched with liberal chromatic spice. The piece gains intensity as it goes, reaching a searing climax in the fifth movement and settling into a mysterious calm during it's closing movement. This is a treasure of the choral literature and is beautifully presented by the three soloists, choir and Orchestra of the Polish State Philharmonic under Karol Strykja.
The other works on the disc are equally well performed and quite satisfying as well. The Veni Creator is also a late work, with a less chromatic modalism that blazes forth in glory. The Litany to the Virgin is similarly spectacular. The two cantatas - Demeter and Penthesilea come from Szymanowki's earlier period, and are rooted in his interest in ancient Greek culture. Both are representative of his more Scriabinesque period and yet are distinctive works in their own right.
This is a highly satifying collection of choral music and terrific for the price. If you are interested in the choral repertoire, you should own this. It is lovely.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Polish Choral Work of the Twentieth Century 1 Jun 2007
By Christopher McKoy - Published on
Format:Audio CD
This Stabat Mater is a Polish setting of a text traditionally in Latin by the early twentieth century composer Karol Szymanowski. `Stabat Mater' means `grieving mother,' a reference to the Virgin Mary weeping for Jesus at the cross. Music critic Jim Svejda rightly notes that along with Bohuslav Martinu, Szymanowski's music remains one of the undiscovered treasures of twentieth century orchestral music. This is equally true of his choral music. Szymanowski's Stabat Mater is one of the wonders of twentieth century choral music, a work to be considered alongside Rachmaninov's Vespers, Janacek's Glagolitic Mass, and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms.

Szymanowski is arguably the best Polish composer of the twentieth century though, like Chopin, he was technically only half Polish (Chopin's father was French; Szymanowski's mother was Swedish from what is now Ukraine). But this makes little difference as what is important is the music. Like his great contemporaries Strauss, Bartok and Janacek, Szymanowski stands right at the edge of the breakdown of the Western tonal system in music but does not opt for complete atonality. Although modernists once decried those who adhered to any aspect of tonality, many classical music aficionados have now discovered that some of the greatest music ever written straddles these two musical worlds. Today there are certainly more people who would like to listen to Bartok's captivating Bluebeard's Castle than, say, to Schoenberg's Erwartung. Szymanowski's Stabat Mater is less chromatic (and therefore less dissonant to most listeners) than several of his other works, for example, the opera King Roger and the Third Symphony. (King Roger features what is arguably the most remarkable opening music of any opera: a choral scene of haunting medieval grandeur.) In my view, the Stabat Mater is therefore just the right mix of tonal and chromatic features.

Few of these technical considerations will matter while you listen to the Stabat Mater, however. The work's spiritual beauty speaks for itself and has a slow, ethereal quality that suspends the listener in an enraptured, otherworldly state. So many choral works attempt to beat listeners over the head with pathos or, in bad cases, kitschy bombast. Szymanowski's Stabat Mater could not be further removed from this (typically nineteenth century) style of choral work, many of which have recently been recycled as "soundtracks" for bad "action movies." But neither is it the sort of heart-meltingly sensuous choral piece that is always very popular with classical music publics. To some the Stabat Mater may even appear cold in its slow tempo and movement. But the pacing and the style are doubtless intentional in that Szymanowski was abundantly capable of creating very sensuous music, as several of the arias from King Roger attest. But this apparent slowness masks a profundity that is revealed after only a few listenings and is richly rewarding.

Let me conclude by saying that I do not think the claim in my title for this review is an exaggeration: though not as widely known, Szymanowski's Stabat Mater stands head and shoulders above anything by Gorecki or Penderecki and is indeed the greatest Polish choral work of the twentieth century.
5.0 out of 5 stars beauty in the ear of the listener 12 Nov 2012
By essmac - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I haven't heard 6 recordings, but I am familiar with both Naxos recordings and the Rattle. I give the Stryja recording the edge because of the soloists, most especially the soprano- who manages the very rare feat of balancing full-bodied singing with devotional restraint. Sometimes 'church' singers can sound out of place in a symphonic work if they sing with too pale and straight a tone. Other singers approach any sacred work with the same tone color and temperament they use in the opera house. Fine for some overtly dramatic 'sacred' works, but not here. Gadulanka sings with control over her vibrato (not straight toned or strident); her timbre (dark in the best possible Slavic way, no silver as with Battle's soprano) strikes me as perfectly plangent for the subject matter, and her patient, floated, understated reading of the first movement stopped me dead in my tracks. I find both sadness and mystery in her singing; was she holding back because she didn't want to put pressure on her voice? Because the conductor instructed her to? Whatever the reason, it conveys a sense of weariness without sounding like a tired singer. The last movement's opening measures are extremely poignant.
I also liked the baritone very much, soft-grained but hefty enough to do justice to the big moments- he sounds like Hampson crossed with Hvorostovsky; his anguish sounds natural and not at all calculated or cerebral. The dramatic singing goes to him, and he provides an excellent contrast to the ladies.
The Contralto is slightly problematic-- again a eastern European sound (not wobbly, just dark and plummy), not a full operatic sound, but full and vibrant enough. She does attack from underneath the note in a few places- as long as this isn't done all the time, you can either hate it or smile at the old-schoolishness. Her lowest notes are very good, and she never indulges herself with any steps into Amneris territory. Both having a somewhat covered production, she blends quite well with the soprano, and conveys the same hypnotic raptness-- two Marys so drained from grief that they can no longer produce tears.
Only concern-- some of the choral harmonies don't completely set; a few unsteady apples in the soprano section pull the whole group to the lower side of the pitch, especially noticeable when they repeat the soprano soloist's line in the last section. But the soloists and their utter guilelessness win the day for me. You can admire the compactness of the work in general, but listening to this recording, I wish he had included a trio for his soloists, and maybe a little more of coda. Not because it sounds incomplete, but I wasn't ready for it to be over.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good performances of Szymanowski's choral music, but Naxos' newer disc is much preferable 7 Jun 2012
By R. Nadel - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Other reviewers wax glowingly over this Naxos collection of Szymanowski's beautiful choral works, but compared with Naxos' newer disc (from 2007) of the same program, conducted by Antoni Wit, it wanes in comparison, to me.

Szymanowski's Stabat Mater is justifiably cited as his greatest work, and is usually included with his Veni Creator and Litany to the Virgin Mary, as it is here. I am familiar with six recordings of his Stabat Mater: two on EMI (Rattle and Wit), one on Chandos, a live recording on Profil, and two on Naxos (this one conducted by Stryja, and Wit). They are all very good performances, but of those six, I now prefer the latest recording on Naxos conducted by Antoni Wit, instead of this one.

This recording, under the baton of Polish conductor Karol Stryja, is good; Stryja is obviously at home with Szymanowski. And Szymanowski's music is breathtakingly, hauntingly beautiful. But, compared to this performance conducted by Stryja, Wit provides the more nuanced and full-blooded performance, with idiomatic and fresher sounding soloists, and much better sound quality. What is missing here (and in most of the other recordings above, save Wit on Naxos) is mystery. In general this performance opts for slower more uniform speeds, which over-emphasizes sadness and seriousness. This is true of most other recordings as well.

The subject of Mary standing pitiably at the cross has been treated by many composers. Because of its subject matter, it provides the composer a canvas upon which to represent the most poignant emotions. Through Szymanowski's work, we experience subtle emotional contrasts, confronting the listener with mystery, urgent helplessness, anguish, and resignation - not simply sadness. I highlight that, because it is those subtleties which elevate this work and distinguish Wit's Naxos performance. I can understand why Naxos now offer the newer Wit recording, even though they already had this one.

In truth, you won't go horribly wrong with this or any of the other recordings above, but you'll miss the very special qualities of the newer one conducted by Antoni Wit
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Poorly Known Choral Works 14 April 2012
By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Being raised on Chopin, I should have known about Szymanowski, but, as many, I was ignorant of this fine, turn of the previous century (1882-1937) Polish composer. He was born in the Ukraine, studied in Warsaw, and dwelled in Paris and Vienna and in 1919 in the now independent and democratic Poland. His music is rich and beautiful, influenced by Debussy, Ravel, and Wagner. His intellectual interests turned to Greek civilization, early Christianity, and Islam. This album, 62 minutes of choral music, was recorded in 1989 but released on Naxos in 1996. Another, more recent recording of the main works is found on the same label, also featuring a Polish orchestra and singers. (I selected this one from listening to samples.) While Veni Creator is more lively, Stabat Mater unfolds in serious contemplation.Other shorter works at the Litany to the Virgin Mary, a pure choral composition; Demeter on a Greek mythological theme; and Penthesilia for soprano, in this instance Roma Owinska. The performances are splendid, especially in Stabat Mater with the soprano, Jadwiga Gadulanka, and contralto, Krystyna Szotek-Radkowa, providing depth and sweetness. My only caveat is that the engineering was inadequate for the task. Distance and flatness of sound took away some of the music's power. This album, nonetheless, had led me to other, symphonic and chamber, works of Szymanowski. If you like the music of Arvo Pärt and Gorecki, this predecessor may be a pleasant discovery.
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