When composing his Stabat Mater, Karol Szymanowski relied on the “comprehensibility of the text”, which is why he made use of a version of the Latin verses translated into Polish. What mattered to him was “to give modern, self-contained forms to what in the mysterious life of the soul is at the same time most real and most intangible”. He definitely succeeded with the work premiered on 11 January 1929, which ends with a moving and ethereal soprano solo. In the process the music, which loses none of its emotional force for listeners who are not familiar with Polish, is of a fascinating simplicity, as the melodic lines continue in seconds and thirds; only the second movement seems from time to time to anticipate Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
Sir Simon Rattle, who already recorded Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater on CD in the early 1990s with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, presents the work here together with the Berliner Philharmoniker and British soprano Sally Matthews, who was awarded the renowned Kathleen Ferrier Award during her studies. After this “religious music” (Szymanowski), the orchestra plays Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which with its utopian content of unity, joy and fraternity optimally corresponded to subsequent generations’ artistic religious ideas. In addition to Sally Matthews, the singers include Bernarda Fink, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, and Christian Elsner, who was acclaimed by audience and press alike for the concert performances of Richard Wagner’s Walküre conducted by Sir Simon Rattle in the Philharmonie in May 2012.