Ignacy Paderewski: Symphonie B minor, op. 24 “POLONIA”; Lviv National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Bohdan Boguszewski; 1 CD DUX 1636; Recording 08/2019, Publication 02/2021 (63’47)
Review by Guy Engels
Is it pure coincidence, or does Paderewski’s Polonia Symphony have special significance in his home country again right now? After the Chopin Institute released a recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra a year ago (see below), the Polish label Dux is now following suit with a recording by the Lviv National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.
Here the Polish connection becomes even clearer, as the symphony had its Polish premiere in 1910 in Lviv (Lviv), which was still Polish at the time.
In this case, the work and its composer may be very closely connected to Polish history and the country’s quest for independence, but the symphony cannot be seen only through historical glasses more than 100 years after it was written.
Bohdan Boguszewski refrains from excessive, heroic pathos, taking a step back both in the religious ending (with organ) of the first movement and in the triumphant gesture of the finale.
The greatest challenge in this monumental work is in any case the epic lengths, which here never end in boredom. Bohdan Boguszewski and the Lviv National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra keep the music under constant tension, playing with as much concentration as passion and intensity. They carefully dose the recurring, often highly emotional passages, so that the hymnal highs never are slipping into the placative or melancholy, and intimate moments don’t sound too sentimental.
The result is a profound, dramatic shaping of a historically heavily laden work, which in this reading still has something to say to today’s listeners.