Concert Overture in E major Op. 12 - Karol Szymanowski
Szymanowski composed the Concert Overture in E major Op. 12 in 1904-05, but re-instrumented it with the help of Grzegorz Fitelberg in 1912-13. The original version was first performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under Fitelberg during the first "Young Poland in Music" concert, a historic event in the Polish music, held by the Young Polish Composers' enterprise "Spółka Nakładowa Młodych Kompozytorów Polskich" in Warsaw on 6th February 1906. The second version was first performed in Vienna on 13th March 1919 by the Tonkünstlerverein Orchestra under Oskar Nedbal.
Written in a Wagnerian-Straussian style, the Overture is characterized by enormous expressiveness, sound intensity and gusto in the way it handles the expanding music themes. Originally, patterned on the late-Romantic works by Richard Strauss, its score started with a poetic platform represented by the introduction to Tadeusz Miciński's poem Witeź Włast.
Although critics consider it one of the works in which "Szymanowski's creative individuality did not express itself at all"1, the Overture is rather popular with musicians, as evidenced by the numerous recordings: by the National Philharmonic Orchestra under Witold Rowicki (Polskie Nagrania, Muza - LP and CD) and Kazimierz Kord (CD Accord), Grand Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio under Jacek Kaspszyk (a few releases by EMI), Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra under Karol Stryja (Wifon and Marco Polo) and Patrick Fournillier (recorded during the 3rd Grzegorz Fitelberg International Conductor Competition in 1987) as well as by foreign orchestras, including the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under Vassily Sinaisky (Chandos) and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Leon Botstein (Telarc).
1 Tadeusz A. Zieliński, "Szymanowski. Liryka i ekstaza", PWM, Kraków 1997, p. 45.
Author: Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, September 2007.