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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 20th century's most beautiful works, 20 April 2001
By A Customer
I'm not at all qualified to write a music review, but can't resist saying a few words about this glorious piece of music, Symanowski'e Stabat Mater, which really deserves to be more famous than a work it surely influenced, the best-selling Gorecki 3rd Symphony - if you liked that, then the Stabat Mater will thrill you to your toenails, with its ravishing texture of female voices soaring and swooping in Slavic magnificance against a a choral background that encompasses both the rich and austere. There are certain moments that will set the hair on the back of your neck erect like almost nothing else in 20th Century music, even Janacek, Mahler and Bartok at their best - Symanowski never really hits the same heights again in his music, but for this one work he walks hand-in-hand with the gods. I just hope that once before I die I'll get the chance to attend a live concert performance - and if it's Sir Simon's conducting a version as perfect as this recorded one, then my joy will be complete!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both Awesome and Gorgeous, 28 Jan 2010
I was introduced to Szymanowski through a tape a friend made me, which had the 3rd Symphony on it. At first, I couldn't quite get it. But I listened to it again, and then... again, finding myself irresistably drawn to it. It had moments of intensity, beauty, huge dynamics, a lovely structure. In short, I loved it.

And then one day, the tape got chewed, and I was moving from tapes to CD, and I realised something was missing from my collection. The 3rd. I saw this disc had been released, and thought it would be a good buy, as I had never heard the Stabat Mater.

Was I in for a treat. The Stabat Mater is hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck music, shivers-down-your-spine music. It is glorious and beautiful. The mixture of solo voices and choir is gorgeous.

I adore it.

The Litany to the Virgin Mary could be regarded as filler - were this not also lovely. Old Szymanowski really could write for voices.

(And for violin - I'm just off to buy his two violin concertos, as my disc has unfortunately been scratched!)
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three of Szymanowski's expressions of the mystical sublime on one disc., 13 Aug 2008
The 'Stabat Mater' and the 3rd Symphony 'The Song Of The Night' are two of the 'spookiest' works of Late Romanticism ever written, full of Slavic dread and uncertainty, (with the composer as ever looking to the mysticism of the East and not the West). We are here in the dark 'thrownness' of the Gnostic universe face to face with the cold mystical sublime except for the consoling final section of the 'Stabat Mater' and the 'Litany'.
I regard the 'The Song Of The Night', along with the 1st Violin Concerto, as the composer's greatest works by far and two of the key works in the history of Romanticism, as important as any work on the same subject - i.e. the night in its Romantic/Gnostic context - which has been central in the Romantic tradition since Novalis.
The quality of sound on this recording is stunning, and the performance very powerful and more expressive than the colder Naxos versions but both are perfectly valid. The quality of sound in the 3rd Symphony is far superior to the old version on Marco Polo and it needs to be in this massively 'loud' score (if ever a score was loud, this is it). A warning though: the dynamic range is extreme so be careful where you set the volume, in the quiet beginning. It is one of those works that seem to have the fearless ambition of confronting the subime and breaking through to the infinite, and volume is the rite of passage.
See my review of two of these works, on the Naxos recording, under 'see all my reviews'.
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Szymanowski: Choral Works
Szymanowski: Choral Works by Elzbieta Szmytka/Florence Quivar/Jon Garrison/John Connell/Cbso Chorus/City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle
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