MIECZYSLAW KARLOWICZ: Symphony in E Minor “Rebirth” Op. 7 – Warsaw  Philharmonic Orchestra/Jerzy Salwarowski – Dux 0656, 44:04 [Distr. by Qualiton] *****:

Karlowicz – along with Szymanowski one of Poland’s leading symphonists of his time, who also shared a love of climbing in the Tatra mountains – experienced a shorter lifespan than his contemporary due to succumbing to an avalanche in those very mountains. Karlowicz suffered from negative critical coverage of some of his early works, one accusing this symphony of copying Tchaikovsky and Wagner, but I found it satisfying listening. The note booklet essayist stresses the favorite motifs of the composer in the symphony: tragic unfulfilled love and life as an endless grey path.  However, aside from some of the darker timbres, I found the work fairly hopeful and optimistic, in keeping with its “Rebirth” subtitle. The brief Vivace third movement sounds like accompaniment to a Disney Fantasia-era animation with a classical slant.  

This was the only symphony from the pen of the young Karlowicz, created at a time he was just beginning to polish his compositional chops, but it has a well-thought-out design and sound and is given a convincing performance by the Warsaw forces, captured in excellent sonics, and given deluxe packaging as well.

 – John Sunier