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Thread: Stanisław Skrowaczewski Discussion Thread

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Cool Stanisław Skrowaczewski Discussion Thread

    Hooray! The big Skrowaczewski box has arrived!

    71P2TBpA4jL._SS500_.jpg

    This was recently on megasale at jpc.de, and I think a number of us picked it up. So, I decided to open this thread to discuss these recordings, or anything else concerning this great Polish-American conductor.

    Contents of the big box:

    All with the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra.

    BRUCKNER: Symphonies 1-9, unnumbered symphonies in F minor and D minor. Overture in G minor. Adagio from String Quintet in F major (arr. Skrowaczewski.)
    BEETHOVEN: Symphonies 1-9.
    SCHUMANN: Symphonies 1-4.
    BRAHMS: Symphonies 1-4.
    BARTÓK: Divertimento for string orchestra. Concerto for Orchestra.
    BERLIOZ: Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14. Love Scene from Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17.
    CHOPIN: Piano Concertos 1 & 2, with Ewa Kupiec.
    SKROWACZEWSKI: Music at Night. Fantasia for flute and orchestra. Symphony [2003].

    I am very much looking forward to listening to all of this! I'll be keeping a running diary of sorts, posted here.

    All are welcome to join in!

    "Skrowaczewski" is somewhat ponderous to type in all the time. I propose we refer to him as "The Great Polish Maestro," or maybe just Stan, as he was known to his friends and family.

    Pronunciation: Stan-uh-swaf Skrov-uh-TCHEF-skee, or if you know IPA, staˌɲiswaf skrɔvaˈt͡ʂɛfskʲi.
    Last edited by Knorf; Apr-16-2020 at 20:52.

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    Senior Member D Smith's Avatar
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    I have had that set for a while and find it uniformly excellent. I especially enjoy his Bruckner and return to it frequently. His own compositions are interesting at least and worth a listen. Enjoy!

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Back in the early 70's I bought an LP that featured his English Horn Concerto. What a neat work.

    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    I started with CD 1, with Bruckner's unnumbered Symphony in F minor, and the Overture in G minor.

    Both of those are new to me! I wish Bruckner had not been so insecure as to try to suppress these works; this gives the erroneous impression that these are not really worth one's time. I am ashamed to say, until today, I thought so, too. Without evidence.

    Now, with evidence, namely that processed by the gooey sponge between my ears, and said ears: these pieces are absolutely worth hearing. The Overture is very charming. It barely sounds like Bruckner, and wears Weber and Wagner on its sleeve, but it is engaging, well-crafted, tuneful, and FUN. There are tantalizing moments that hint at what is to come. That's true of almost every composer's early works, so why exclude this piece on that basis? It's good, period.

    As for the Symphony in F minor, similar remarks apply, but it definitely also sounds a bit more like the Bruckner we know and love, even if Weber and Wagner remain clearly nearby. I admit it's more technically accomplished than truly inspired, but not sufficiently so to justify its neglect. There are much less interesting symphonies that are heard way more often!

    As for Stan's and Saarbrücken's performance: well, it sounds very convincing. I've heard no other recordings, and so lack a basis for comparison. The orchestra is excellent, and I enjoyed hearing these pieces. I will certainly return to them again!
    Last edited by Knorf; Apr-16-2020 at 20:43.

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    Thanks for posting. My copy is in the mail, but I'm sure it will take a while to reach me from Germany. I appreciate your impressions.

    I agree the name is difficult to spell. I've seen many refer to him as Skro.
    Last edited by Manxfeeder; Apr-16-2020 at 19:13.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    I saw a full-length (like 500 pages) biography of him at a library sale once. Apparently he has a pretty interesting story, growing up surrounded by the Iron Curtain and forging a productive but under-the-radar musical career. I should have grabbed that book but didn't. Not a very high-profile conductor, maybe he was like that on purpose - but still I find him shockingly underrated for someone who recorded a decent amount of repertoire and was a composer to boot. All of I've heard of him is his amazingly good Beethoven - in fact, whenever I want a lean, mean approach on modern instruments he's what I go for. The first time I heard his Eroica I almost catapulted out of my chair at the sound of the two opening chords - they literally sound like lightning bolts. Now that is some Beethoven! All this talk about Bruckner on the forum lately has left me hungry for some. I think I will check out what Stanislaw has to say with the 7th or 9th this afternoon or tomorrow (if I can find it on streaming...fingers crossed).

    Apparently he was instrumental in the history of my home orchestra and made a big impact in most everything he did. Here's a great article upon his death 3 years ago: https://www.startribune.com/stanisla...-93/414391273/
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Apr-16-2020 at 19:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Apparently he was instrumental in the history of my home orchestra and made a big impact in most everything he did. Here's a great article upon his death 3 years ago: https://www.startribune.com/stanisla...-93/414391273/
    Thanks for the article. That's how I got to know him, through his VoxBox recordings with the Minneapolis Orchestra. I'm looking forward to the OEHMS box set.

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    I listened to the unnumbered Symphony in D minor*, which is technically the third symphony Bruckner wrote. It's a great performance of another work that is unduly neglected because of Bruckner's sad and excessive self-doubt. With this one, I really don't see how anyone can doubt the symphony's worthiness to belong on the shelf with the others. It's an excellent symphony!

    I think I slightly prefer Simone Young's recording with Philharmoniker Hamburg (also on Oehms), which is overall more a bit more dynamic. That's the only other recording I know well enough to offer a comparison. I've heard others, but my memory of them is just too vague.

    So far, I am most pleased with this purchase!

    (*I refuse to call it "Die Nullte," because that's just dumb, and it perpetuates the notion that this symphony isn't worth anyone's time, when it clearly is.)

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    Senior Member Duncan's Avatar
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    eyJidWNrZXQiOiJwcmVzdG8tY292ZXItaW1hZ2VzIiwia2V5IjoiODAzNDg5Mi4xLmpwZyIsImVkaXRzIjp7InJlc2l6ZSI6.jpg

    Stanislaw Skrowaczewski: 90th Birthday Collection

    Link to complete label-authorized 28 CD Box Set (145 selections in total) -

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...GFYj85gkNl6Yaw


    Works

    Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, BB 123, Sz.116
    Bartók: Divertimento for Strings, Sz. 113
    Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 'Eroica'
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 'Pastoral'
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 'Choral'
    Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17
    Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17: Love Scene
    Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
    Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 1-4
    Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
    Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
    Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
    Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
    Bruckner: Overture in G minor
    Bruckner: String Quintet in F major
    Bruckner: Symphonies 1-9
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 1 in C minor
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 in C minor
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 in D minor ‘Wagner Symphony'
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in Eb Major 'Romantic'
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 in A major
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 in E Major
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in C minor
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 00 in F minor 'Study Symphony'
    Bruckner: Symphony No. 0 in D minor 'Nullte'
    Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11
    Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21
    Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1-4
    Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 38 'Spring'
    Schumann: Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61
    Schumann: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 'Rhenish'
    Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120
    Skrowaczewski: Fantasie per flauto ed orchestra 'Il Piffero della Notte'
    Skrowaczewski: Music at Night
    Skrowaczewski: Symphony

    This is a link for the complete track listing by CD -

    https://www.discogs.com/Stanis%C5%82...elease/9878171

    It takes a fair bit of doing to try to figure out exactly where you're at when accessing the videos on YouTube and then trying to coordinate them with the track listing but you'll get the hang of it... eventually... maybe not today... maybe not tomorrow... or even the day after that... but be patient, eh? - It's worth the time and effort...
    Last edited by Duncan; Apr-16-2020 at 21:33.

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    I have many other things to do today, but I couldn't help myself: I dove into some of Stan's Beethoven. Specifically, Symphonies No. 1 in C major, and No. 4 in B-flat major.

    This is exceptionally good Beethoven! As advertised! Stan's Beethoven is abundantly energetic and rhythmic, but finds deep lyricism and always keeps the line moving. It is highly detailed, and supremely musical. The orchestra is fantastic, top notch. Early on, I'm more impressed with Stan's Beethoven than his Bruckner, and that is really saying something!

    The cycle begins with a great Symphony No. 1, one that is absolutely competitive with the best Firsts out there, such as Szell/Cleveland, Karajan/Berlin (1962), Karajan/Vienna (live from 1966) or anyone else.

    This superb Symphony No. 4 has only one obvious peer that I can think of, Carlos Kleiber/Bayerisches Staatsorchester. That one is so special I think it will remain my favorite. But Stan's recording is not far off, not far indeed. Both are especially wonderful in the second movement, which I adore.

    It was Merl and his enthusiasm for Stan's Beethoven that helped convince me to get this box, especially on sale. This is clearly going to be a great Beethoven cycle. So far, it reminds me of the absolutely best fine wine, where I find that it's just so good that it's hard for me to know what to say in my tasting notes beyond, "it's so good!"

    So, thanks Merl!

    Ok, now to just remember I have stuff to do besides listen to Skrowaczewski recordings and write about it on Talkclassical.com.

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    During what years did Skrow'ski conduct in Minneapolis/Minnesota?? I don't have any of his recordings, but I remember well a great performance of Brahms #3 that he led with PhiladelphiaOrch at Saratoga PAC, back in the 60s...best Brahms 3 I've ever heard overall...really nailed the tough 1st mvt, and the finale...great conducting, great orchestra work.

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    Senior Member jim prideaux's Avatar
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    I have often mentioned 'Skrow'ski' in my posts as I find myself reflecting on how much I enjoy his recordings....Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann. Outstanding!
    'so where are the strong, who are the trusted and where is the harmony, sweet harmony?'
    (Nick Lowe)

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    This afternoon I started on his Bruckner 7, but realized once I was well into the first movement that it was a performance with the London Philharmonic from 2013 rather than from his Rundfunk cycle. It's still a wonderful performance, infusing the music with a warmth and lightness of texture that I find super refreshing. You can really tell that Stan aims for clarity of line and detail in all his recordings, and that's an approach that really pays off in Bruckner IMO. It may be lacking a bit of power at times, but I would rather hear this kind of Bruckner, that moves along with a supple Viennese lilt, rather than the massive convulsions that some other conductors wring from their orchestras. I then briefly sampled the 9th from his Rundfunk cycle. There's a very similar sound, but perhaps a bit more oomph when needed. Through my limited listening I get the impression that Stan is one of those rare conductors who really understands these scores as the integrated narratives that they are, and the playing he gets from his ensembles is wonderful. Rats, Knorf, now you got me on a Bruckner spell What can I do tomorrow but spend the whole day with Anton and his endless, comforting cosmos of orchestral mastery?

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I have the Bruckner and Beethoven sets. I'm very happy with them. I love the sound too. Oehms is a great label.
    Last edited by starthrower; Apr-17-2020 at 00:45.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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    Senior Member Joachim Raff's Avatar
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    I was looking at Granate's Bruckner Challenge which he included the Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's cycle and it not come out that well. I think only his 6th managed into his top ten( but runner up). If you have time have a look at his reviews. His comparisons are very extensive with most releases covered. Of course everyone has their own preference.

    I will say one thing for the set, you will be pushed to get the amount of top class music playing for the price. It's a bargain and a half. Worth every penny. Congrats on your purchase.
    Last edited by Joachim Raff; Apr-17-2020 at 02:29.

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