Incredibly attractive Romantic symphonic music from a composer who would be unknown outside of Poland if it weren’t for the thinking and efforts of Naxos, who have made a huge quantity of fine music from little known composers available to a mass audience. They’ve also given us the opportunity to hear such stellar musicians as the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, which is an excellent ensemble, and their conductor Antoni Wit, who, with a better agent, would be known as one of the leading classical figures of his era. Every recording I’ve heard from Wit, and I’ve heard dozens, has been at the very least impeccably musical, and they are frequently at the top of the line in the quality of thinking and playing.
Karlowicz is not too far from Szymanowksi, colorful but not as exotic, certainly more disciplined and structured. I see that as an advantage. The Op. 7 Symphony is extroverted from the start and a gripping, fascinating listen throughout. Where late Romantic music can escape all bounds of logic for pure sensation, Karlowicz constantly maintains the feeling that there is a reason and purpose for every musical moment, and one wants to follow the musical journey actively, not just let the piece drift in hopes it will bump into something interesting. The added incidental music, “Bianca da Molena,” is also focussed, dramatic without being overwrought. Not only worth exploring, but completely satisfying and recommended for anyone lovers of Romantic symphonic music.