Symphonic Concert Filharmonia Narodowa

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Symphonic Concert
Christoph König, photo: Christian Wind

Carl Maria von Weber’s opera (more accurately an elaborate singspiel with spoken dialogues) The Freeshooter, from 1821, became one of the milestones in the history of the genre, representing the theatrical-musical expression of many ideas of the young Romantic movement. Emblematic of this work is the striking and colourfully orchestrated overture, presenting motifs used in the opera and conveying its mysterious mood.

The ‘concertante’ Fourth Symphony is characteristic of Karol Szymanowski’s mature style – suffused with expression, harmonically and texturally rich, employing a wide range of orchestral-pianistic timbres, and at the same time accessible, dialoguing with tradition. The first performance came on 9 October 1932, in Poznań, under the baton of Grzegorz Fitelberg, then over subsequent years Szymanowski himself enjoyed success conducting his Fourth across Europe.

Contemporary to Szymanowski’s work is the Fourth Symphony by Franz Schmidt, a highly regarded Austrian composer, pianist, cellist and teacher in his day, but now rather forgotten. Yet his work is quite the opposite of Szymanowski’s: the rampant post-Romantic expression and monumental scale of the means employed are close to the style of Richard Strauss, while the tragic episode of the slow movement funeral march accounts for the remark made by the composer, who called his symphony a ‘requiem for my daughter’…

Piotr Maculewicz