Monday, January 19, 2015

Karol Szymanowski, Love Songs, and Hafez; A Note on Music by Payman Akhlaghi (2015)

Szymanowski, Love Songs, and Hafez 
A Note on Music by Payman Akhlaghi (Draft 3)

(*) First published at on January 19th, 2015, under Memo on Music: Szymanowski, Love Songs, and Hafez.

For long, I have heard about Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937), the Polish composer of the first order, far more than I have heard him. Polish-born American pianist Arthur Rubinstein in his biography referred to him as one of his favorite composers. One of my own professors considers him "Scriabin, Part 2". I understand that for his compatriots, he's been the true heir to Chopin at least in historical, nationalistic and cultural terms. I still wish to find the opportunity and give him my undivided attention. For now, I won't miss chance encounters.

The other night (01.17.2015), thanks to Mr. Alan Chapman of KUSC, I learned of Szymanowski's Op. 31, "Songs of a Fairy Tale Princess", the three of which were orchestrated by the composer himself. In their melodic, harmonic and timbral sensitivity, they struck me as the precursors of Lutoslawski's "Chantefleurs et Chantefables", also Polish, which I had the pleasure of hearing live a few years ago. Following up, I learned that Szymanowski's song cycles Opp. 24 and 26 were musical settings of "Love Poems of Hafiz", as much of them as had arrived in Polish, apparently from a German translation based on Arabic texts. I decided that my hitherto scant knowledge of his music shouldn't hold me back from at the least introducing them on my personal page. I don't know the words, but starting with the orchestral versions of Op. 26, they sound remarkable, evocative, and beautiful. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do.
-- Payman Akhlaghi

(*) Szymanowski, Love Songs of Hafiz, Op. 26, for Voice and Orchestra
- Part 1 of 2:
- Part 2 of 2:
(*) Szymanowski, Love Songs of Hafiz Op. 24, for voice and piano:
(*) Szymanowski, Songs of a Fairy-tale Princess, Op. 31, Nos. 1-3, orchestrated by the composer:

P.S. 01.20.2015.
I learned from Wikipedia, Works of Szymanowski, that Op. 26, for voice and orchestra, Nos. 6-7-8, are orchestral settings of 3 from Op. 24, which had been for voice and piano. The orchestral links above to Op. 26, however, start out with No.1 of Op. 24, "Desires" (normally, No. 6 of Op. 26), and end with No. 1 of 26, "The Tomb of Hafez", which does make more sense to me. So far, I have seen a partial score of the Op. 26 on IMSLP, the piano reduction, which bears a Posthumous (after death) notice. It's rather confusing; and the performers might have swapped things around, for the recording, in good taste. Just enjoy the music. -- P.A.

-- © 2015, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is a composer, pianist and piano teacher based in Los Angeles. His repertoire covers Classical music, as well as Persian (Iranian) Music, Pop Music, and Film Music. For information on the lessons in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Encino, Brentwood, etc. please call: 310-208-2927. Thank you.

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