Szymanowski: Symphony No 3, Op 27 (Song of the Night); Symphony No 4 (Sinfonia concertante), Op 60; Stabat Mater, Op 53

Reviewed on Mon 25 Nov, 2013

Those who invested in the first disc of Valery Gergiev's Szymanowski symphonies might well need little persuading, but he has never struck me as a natural interpreter of the Polish composer. These live recordings with the LSO are lush and rich performances that capture many of the exotic colours in the music. There's an element of pungent eroticism to the Third Symphony that emerges from its thin veil as the piece progresses, and Gergiev handles this well. Toby Spence is a forthright and moving soloist. The Fourth Symphony, a piano concerto in all but name, features Denis Matsuev as an insightful soloist. The Stabat Mater is better than some on disc – Rattle's CBSO recording still leads the pack for me – but it's a work whose importance is made more apparent with every new encounter. It benefits from solid soloists who are well attuned to the text's sensitivities. In particular, Kostas Smoriginas is a bass-baritone I want to hear more of. Recommended.
–Evan Dickerson