Szymanowski: King Roger

COMPOSERS: Szymanowski
LABELS: Accord
ALBUM TITLE: Szymanowski
WORKS: King Roger
PERFORMER: Wojtek Drabowicz
Olga Pasiecznik
Piotr Beczala
Krzysztof Szmyt
Romuald Tesarowicz
Polish National Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Jacek Kaspszyk


Kr—l Roger occupied Szymanowski

for six years (1918-24) and finds

him at his most inspired: there is an

exotic luxuriance, a sense of longing,

a heightened awareness of colour and

glowing, luminous textures. Apart

from Simon Rattle’s EMI recording,

there have been three earlier Polish

sets, but this newcomer is easily the

best so far. Indeed in some respects it is possible to prefer it to Rattle’s.

In the title role Wojtek Drabowicz is

every bit as commanding as Thomas

Hampson and arguably better

characterised, and in vocal quality

the Roksana of Olga Pasiecznik is

even purer in tone than Rattle’s

Elzbieta Szmytka. Her famous aria

is quite ravishing. Indeed the whole

performance is strong vocally and

the choral singing magnificent. Jacek

Kaspszyk gives us a finely paced

and expertly controlled account of

the score. The opening in Palermo

Cathedral is one of the most glowing

and atmospheric in all Szymanowski

and its sense of ecstasy and mysticism

is conveyed with authority.

This newcomer can be said to

hold its own with the EMI and it has

economy in its favour accommodating

the whole opera on a single disc.

The recording, too, has impressive

range and definition even if it must

ultimately yield to the EMI which has

greater space around the sound. If the

orchestral detail is well delineated in

the new set, there is, I think, slightly

greater refinement and atmosphere in


the Rattle set. Robert Layton