“‘Symphonist’ is not a description often applied to Arvo Pärt. Yet the Four works contained on this disc…form important landmarks along a journey that is revealed to be neither straightforward nor easy…the fourth’s largescale architectural dimensions are perfectly shaped and proportioned in the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic’s performance under Tonu Kaljuste.”
“This disc, definitively conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste, who seems to have become the composer’s preferred interpreter, is the first to include all four of Pärt’s symphonies, and…traces the early part of that stylistic journey. Kaljuste and his orchestra are just as convincing when placidly unwrapping those bundles of archaic-sounding melody, as he is confronting the angularities and contrapuntal clashes of the earlier works.”
Palm Beach Daily News
“The orchestra is large — the roster lists 93 names. Yet it is very responsive. The pianissimo passages are as quiet as they can be and still be heard; the fortissimos have a full, grand sound. The dynamic range is wide, and the ensemble is well balanced — the winds do not overwhelm the strings. The concert opened with Szymanowski’s Concert Overture in E, Opus 12. This is an early composition by Szymanowski, written when he was but 23 years old; the work is very much in the style of Richard Strauss. The piece calls for the full orchestra, which is expertly deployed by Szymanowski. We were given a chance to hear the orchestra at its quietest and at its fullest, and a grand sound it was.”
BBC Music Magazine
“The NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, led by Tōnu Kaljuste, propel [the First Symphony] onward, drawing a shape from the swirling sonic mass…The Fourth (2008) owes as much to silence as it does to sound – a reality neatly observed by Kaljuste.”
“An excellent orchestra and a well-considered programme make for a treat…Stravinsky’s scoring is wonderfully inventive and is played with much sparkle and point by this excellent Polish orchestra…this pair of neo-classical orchestral suites have, at once, much and relatively little in common. They make a diverse pair and ear-tickling listening, and it is remarkable that they have not been coupled on disc before. Jacek Kaspszyk obviously has great affection for both scores and presents all this music with élan. The recording too…is first rate, and the concert-hall acoustic ideal for the music. Highly recommended if, like me, you count good, characterful tunes a priority in 20th Century ballet music.”
Together with a number of renowned guest artists and its newly appointed Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic is at the heart of Polish music scene.
The orchestra was founded in 1945 as both a symphony and an opera orchestra. In 1949 it became the State Opera Orchestra and held symphonic concerts sporadically until 1954, when it became an independent symphony orchestra. In 1994 it adopted the name of Witold Lutosławski in memory of the great composer, and on the opening Wrocław’s new concert hall, the National Forum of Music in 2015, it became the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic. The National Forum of Music, located in the historic center of Wrocław, operates a state-of-the-art multifunctional concert venue. The acoustics and theater design of the concert halls was the work of the renowned New York based Artec Consultants Inc (now Arup) and led by Tateo Nakajima. The building of the NFM has been designed by the esteemed polish architect Stefan Kuryłowicz and the Kurylowicz & Associates Architectural Design Studio.
The orchestra participates in a huge range of projects each season, including subscription concerts, education projects, recordings, radio broadcasts, and outdoor concerts. The educational activities include concerts young people and collaborations with the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław and the NFM Orchestra Academy and Choral Academy.
Thanks to its collaborations with festivals presented by the National Forum of Music, such as Jazztopad and Musica Electronica Nova, the Wroclaw Philharmonic enjoys regular collaborations with some leading avant garde and jazz artists such as John Zorn, Wynton Marsalis with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Terje Rypdal.
From 2006-2013, the orchestra was led by Jacek Kaspszyk, who contributed greatly to the ensemble’s development during his seven-year tenure as principal conductor and artistic director. He was succeeded by Benjamin Shwartz from 2013 to 2016. In 2016, the city of Wrocław was hailed as the European Capital of Culture and the orchestra’s performances accompanied the celebrations that season. The NFM Wrocław Philharmonic has worked with many fine guest conductors, among them Giovanni Antonini, Andrey Boreyko, Philippe Herreweghe, Paul McCreesh, Dima Slobodeniouk, Krzysztof Penderecki and Mario Venzago. The orchestra has worked with all of Poland’s great 20th century composers including Witold Lutosławski, Paweł Mykietyn, Krzysztof Penderecki, Elżbieta Sikora, Stanisław Skrowaczewski and Agata Zubel. Promoting Polish music is a special focus of the orchestra who regularly perform in prominent venues in Poland as well as throughout Europe and the United States. Past international tours have included works by Szymanowski, Lutosławski, Górecki, and Penderecki.
The NFM Wrocław Philharmonic regularly performs works commissioned by the National Forum of Music and has a growing international presence with its commitment to presenting Classical and Romantic masterworks as well as 20th & 21st century symphonic repertoire and contemporary Polish composers. The orchestras numerous, award-winning albums include Witold Lutosławski: Opera omnia, a recording of the complete works of the prominent 20th-century composer (CD Accord). The latest releases include an album of music by Paweł Mykietyn, recorded with Benjamin Shwartz on CD Accord which was nominated for a Fryderyk in the Album of the Year – Contemporary Music category, and a recording of Arvo Pärt’s four symphonies under the baton of Tõnu Kaljuste (ECM).