Critical acclaim

 

‘Outstanding… In every way this matches and even outshines the superb account which Sir Georg Solti recorded with the Chicago Orchestra on Decca… the vitality of the piece is superbly caught with the LSO even crisper in articulation than the Chicago players.’   

Gramophone, London 


‘Blond, young and fabulous are the words to describe the conductor Grzegorz Nowak.’   

Il Tempo, Rome


‘Grzegorz Nowak proved his authority leading the Orchestra Sinfonia Varsovia in Szymanowski Overture, conducted with precision, fire and passion, emphasising lyrical and passionate dimensions of this score… In the ‘Italian’ Symphony, musicians of Sinfonia Varsovia, lead by Nowak’s vigorous, fluid, light and lively direction, are filled with energy and follow with full understanding suggestive gestures of the conductor who has a deeply romantic temperament.’

Michel Le Naour, Le Journal, Salle Pleyel, Paris


‘Grzegorz Nowak, a supremely musicianly conductor… drew a magnificent Shostakovich Fifth Symphony from his marvellously pliant orchestra’  

Bernard Lee, Sheffield Telegraph


‘Grzegorz Nowak, principal associate conductor of the London Philharmonic, who for a long time has a brilliant international career, was so convincing that immediately won us over. From Allegro vivace everything was enchanting: balance of sound, clear musical lines, energy of gestures. Andante con moto is not diluted into excessive slowness, it flows like a source. In sparkling final Saltarello the conductor presents himself both as master of colour and rhythm, precise but flexible, with attention to details. Definitely one likes very much this chamber approach and yet generous, supple and structured. Mendelssohn’s work confirmed the technique and temperament already demonstrated in Concert Overture by Szymanowski whose Dionysian and conquering exaltation, very Strauss-like in spirit, could not have found a better interpreter. Pushed to the limits with lively tempos, the orchestra followed their conductor unabated… in Second Concerto of Chopin the orchestra, so often confined to condescending support, was especially pointed – one could recognise the hand of a conductor with operatic experience.’

Didier van Moere, ConcertoNet.com, Salle Pleyel, Paris


‘Stylish and luminous… exquisitely poised… idiomatic and brilliant.’  

The Financial Times, London


‘Nowak directed a very fine account of Tchaikovsky’s last symphony… Starting with the most blissful pianissimo, Nowak built the music to the first climax, which he held back, allowing the second theme really to sing. Only after this did he unleash the violent forces; the development section of the movement was wild and unbridled and the tension was sustained even during the reprise of the “big tune”. The coda was given not as a sorrowful processional but as a restrained comment on what had gone before. The lop–sided waltz of the second movement had the real feel of dance, and Nowak’s light touch was superb here. There’s not much you can do with the famous scherzo but play it and let it run its course, which is what happened and it was all the more enjoyable for it. The finale was regretful but never despairing, fading away into the distance not with remorse but a wistfulness – if I may mangle T S Eliot’s famous words.  

If the Royal Philharmonic hadn’t secured the services of Charles Dutoit I would be demanding that Grzegorz Nowak be immediately appointed chief conductor for he has a rapport with the musicians and they obviously enjoy playing for him. His concerts are always worth attending and with the RPO on top form we have as exciting a combination of musicians as one could hope for in London. I can hardly wait for the next show when they all get together again.’

Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International, London


‘There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind, after hearing this show, that together Grzegorz Nowak and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra make a truly winning combination. I have heard quite a few performances by these musicians and Nowak always commands playing of the very highest standard from the orchestra. We, the audience, are lucky that the RPO has his services. Tonight’s performance of the 4th Symphony showed all that is best in musical performance. Starting with the richest and most sumptuous declamation of the fate motif from the horns – a real dream team here – Nowak led us through Tchaikovsky’s tortured mind in the first movement, seldom allowing for respite – with only a slight slackening of tension for the second subject – this was highly powered and agonising in its intensity. Although seeming to be a light movement Nowak managed to find moments of suffering in the Andantino – beautiful oboe playing from John Anderson – which have always been there, lurking in the harmonies, making this a slightly uncomfortable listen. The playful scherzo was marvellous, Nowak giving each of the three musics their own style, thus the pizzicato strings were delightfully mellifluous, the wind circus–like and joyous and the brass march po–faced and strict. It was all so easily pleasing that the opening of the finale came as a real shock to our relaxed sensibilities. Here, again, Nowak found the terrors in the music, and with devastating calculation made the final appearance of the fate motif a real event, blowing the roof off our expectations of a mere repeat of earlier music, and bringing a kind of Armageddon to the work. A towering interpretation and as fine a piece of orchestral playing as I have heard all year… splendid concert’ 

Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International, London


‘The musicians of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were at their best… The orchestra was led by… Grzegorz Nowak who is Principal Associate Conductor of the RPO. Nowak is an energetic conductor with an exquisite presence. He is tall, slim and his enthusiasm for the music is intense and contagious; at times he almost appears to grow, towering above the orchestra, like a Nordic god commanding a storm; his hair swirling around his head as if taken by a sudden, furious wind! He led the RPO in a vibrant but romantic rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture… his and the orchestra’s greatest moment came with the final piece: the composer’s magnificent Symphony No. 5… the music was delivered with great technical precision and well judged passion… leading the orchestra in an exceptionally fine, exciting interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s music. Nowak’s and the RPO’s performance was excellent throughout and one of the best that I have so far seen and heard’ 

Margarida Mota-Bull, MusicWeb International, London


‘The RPO always plays well for Nowak and the rollicking performance of the Festival Overture got the show off to a brilliant start. The brass fanfares were resplendent in their fullness and the racey woodwind figures were like quicksilver. But there was also warmth in the second theme, with rich cello and horn sound… Nowak’s interpretation of the 5th oozed defiance in every bar. A strong opening, relaxed into the exposition, with some fine violin playing – there is much exposed writing here and the RPO players showed a confidence in their stratospheric music. A well built transition into faster music made the central march section much more a part of the whole than a rather banal episode stuck in the middle. The return of the earlier material was graced with some gorgeous flute and horn playing and the ending, with solo violin and celesta had an ethereal quality to it. The scherzo was marvelously heavy footed, and the bluff humour was very well calculated, and conveyed. The slow movement is one of Shostakovich’s best and all the passion of the music was brought out in playing of great tenderness, with another well built climax growing organically as the performance proceeded. The finale can be a problem, for here Shostakovich asks for a gradual build up of tension by increasing the tempo in small steps until the release at the point where it cannot continue in its onward rush. Nowak got it right, which is not always the case, by starting with a deliberate tempo and building on it. After the restraint of the middle section, the conductor has to, once again, build the music to shattering climax and, again, Nowak succeeded magnificently, finally unleashing the full force of the orchestra, the final blows from the drums perfectly demonstrating Shostakovich’s explanation of the music in Testimony – “The rejoicing is forced, created under a threat… It’s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying ‘Your business is rejoicing’ and you rise, shakily, and go marching off muttering ‘Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.’” With the RPO on top form, utterly responsive to their conductor’s demands, this was a great performance of a great Symphony, an evening which will remain long in the memory.’ 

Bob Briggs, Musical Pointers, London


‘Symphony No 5 earned lengthy applause and rightly so. The impressive dynamic shaping and clarity of phrasing were particularly powerful from the start, while the unity of this huge orchestra, the playing from all sections… ensured a gripping mix and balance of emotion and mood throughout: pain, restlessness, conflict, demented obsession, sneering cynicism, humour and defiant exuberance were all there, though under control. The Largo was woven through with such a golden, spell-binding thread of grief, sorrow and painful beauty that tears must have pricked the eyes even of those with no experience of Stalinist terrors, keeping listeners suspended in a magical, emotional flow. We might have been inclined to jump up and shout ‘Bravo!’ right there and then’

Eileen Caiger Grey, DigYorkshire, Leeds


‘quite exquisite… a delight. Nowak drew spritely and crisp playing from his band… Nowak directed a very dramatic performance, full of fire and spirit, relishing every twist and turn of the music. The slow movement brought out the most beautiful pianissimo from the strings and, using the most subtle of rubato, Nowak built the phrases with an extra special nobility… the music held together better than I have ever heard it. With playing of the utmost excitement and refinement, this was a performance to savour.’  

Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International, London


the programme opened with Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances… The opening was neat and graceful, light strands of melody overlapping with precision, the first dance gliding along with a delightful absence of gravity. As the dances become more raucous, the tone quality was penetrating yet sparkled with finesse, cutting and beautiful at the same time. There was always a tremendous buoyant enthusiasm in the dance rhythms… The interpretation was faultlessly enthusiastic… the tail of the programme was swallowed by Dvořák’s popular Symphony no. 9. The opening was grave and contemplative, slow and stately without ever dragging. As the first movement heated up, the orchestra came to life, boiling over with enthusiasm and excitement… The second movement… was perfectly poised and yet heartfelt, a truly touching rendition. The cor anglais solo was divinely phrased and handled with dignity and emotion, the achingly muted sound weaving through an unending stream of strings… the music was freshly and emotionally presented, an immense pleasure to listen to. The opening of the third movement was clearly enjoyed by audience and players alike, the mental queasiness of cross-rhythms and hemiolas enjoyably bewildering, the cheekiness of phrase after phrase bickering with each other like watching musical tennis across the orchestra.  The final movement tied the performance into an exuberant bundle: the tension of the first movement, the grandeur of the second, the charm and wit of the third all merging to polish off the concert with a rich culmination of characterful music and playing.’

Madelaine Jones, 7. 11. 2012, Bachtrack.com


‘compelling account… the slow movement was outstanding, very spacious, a true Largo… achingly intense in climaxes… finale was trenchant, sometimes reporting fury, and expressive of universal pathos at its mid-point… a thought-provoking performance, blessed with a rather remarkable slow movement.’  

Colin Anderson, Classical Source, London


‘You’re wondering just how, after a performance of such a stature, the same players can top it. The answer tonight was simple: play like demons. And the RPO did. Here was a New World full of drama, tension, passion and tragedy… As with No. 8, Nowak whipped up a frenzy of excitement in the outer movements, but showing the tenderest care in the famous slow movement – glorious cor anglais playing… – and he wasn’t afraid to slightly play about with the tempo if it suited him to make a musical point.’  

Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International, London


‘Grzegorz Nowak is certainly one of the most remarkable conductors… the galvanized orchestra [Montreal Symphony] gave a prodigious performance.’   

La Presse, Montréal 


An intimate yet well-balanced recording… The conducting is incisive and expressive, with considerable attention lavished on inner orchestral detail. Matt Haimovitz offers a reading that is both sensitive and virtuosic: there is great poetic intimacy in the Langsam, particularly in the exposed double-stops, and he provides tremendous rhythmic energy in the finale, which is taken here at a steady tempo. A mellow and rewarding timbre form his 1710 Matteo Gofriller adds to the successful cocktail… Laure Favre-Kahn delivers a pretty formidable interpretation of the Piano Concerto to make this a most attractive release.

Joanne Talbot, The Strad Magazine, July 2011 


‘Nowak demonstrated exactly how to play Mozart without relegating all responsibility to the original instruments brigade… Nowak directed both Concertos in a spritely manner, full of bounce and spirit… The music moved forwards at a very nice pace… This was a superb performance… and made this glorious Symphony into a real Symphonic experience rather than just a pleasant walk in the country… handled with aplomb, the tension never dropped, the drama, rather than tragedy, was well handled and we were kept on the edges of our seats as the music progressed from one highpoint to the next… superb’  

Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International, London


‘It was as sprightly a performance as you could have wished for, with meltingly tender woodwinds in the gentle middle section… I loved every second of it… The Royal Philharmonic played expertly and obviously appear to enjoy working with Nowak. Long may this collaboration continue!’ 

Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International, London


‘Nowak's energetic conducting and attention, especially to dynamic detail, was abundantly evident… admirably captured in tonight's performance… Nowak and the orchestra were superb… Nowak moulded an intense musical line, a kind of great arc of symphonic drama which also projected the difference, diversity of each movement - indeed the diversity within each movement… It was in the 'Largo' in particular that Nowak found an almost unbearable dramatic/brooding quality. I have seldom heard the development of unbroken cadences, after the first impassioned D minor climax, mutating into regions of ill - defined tonality captured with such conviction… inspired event’

Geoff Digginess, MusicWeb International, London


‘It would be difficult to imagine a more compelling presentation. The musicians of the Montreal Symphony seemed inspired.’   

The Gazette, Montreal


‘The orchestra accompaniment was magnificent under Grzegorz Nowak's direction in both Glazunov's and Mozart's violin concertos [with Anne-Sophie Mutter]… Rarely has Tivoli Symphony Orchestra sounded with such a surplus of refinement and richness of color.’   

Jyllands-Posten, Copenhagen


‘delightful… marvelously colorful… very memorable… you probably will be shocked at just how good the whole thing is… finely made music… these ebullient, fizzy, well-engineered performances by the clearly energized Kaiserslautern orchestra under Grzegorz Nowak make the best possible case for Czerny.’   

David Hurwitz, Classics Today


‘Symphony Comes Alive Under Nowak… Nowak elicited a brilliance and depth from the orchestra [San Diego Symphony]… restored the magic and innocent ebullience.’  

Los Angeles Times


‘Mr. Nowak has the capacity to enchant the audience… exquisitely done.’  

The Telegraph, Liverpool


‘The music still sounds superb, partly thanks to the fantastic interpretation of the Sinfonia Varsovia under Grzegorz Nowak. Do not overlook the true pearl, the concerto overture "Bajka" by the master of song and opera Stanislaw Moniuszko. The Album of the Year '96. Grzegorz Nowak and the Sinfonia Varsovia have worked wonders... It is one of the best and most surprising recordings I have heard’

M. Tokarska, Studio, Warsaw


‘One of the best. Already the very beginning of Saturday’s concert of the Warsaw National Philharmonic proved that Grzegorz Nowak, eminent Polish conductor working mostly abroad, can draw from this ensemble a superb, noble sound. The orchestra played with uncommon precision and determination… The symphonic poem Returning Waves of Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, full of thunderous culminations and beautiful musical details, was interpreted and performed impeccably, vividly and with excellent narrative pace… In the 1st Violin Concerto of Szymanowski…the soloist always remained within boundaries of good taste, playing stormy passages with bravura and lyric episodes with fantasy. Refined articulation, rich color of her violin, sounding in middle register like a warm overflowing wave — all this finely laced with impressive sound from the orchestra, produced ravishing effects. The soloist and the conductor equally honored composer's romantic nature as well as his innovative musical thought. Exposing ecstatic qualities of the work, Grzegorz Nowak flawlessly guided the rhythmic discipline, ensemble precision and sound balance of the instrumental groups. As the result, we were treated to the best interpretation of this masterpiece on Polish concert stages in years… Grzegorz Nowak also managed to present the changing and capricious character of Rachmaninoff’s last composition in a superb manner, skillfully contrasting light and graceful passages with dramatic sections. The entire work was thoughtfully paced, and the orchestra once again impressed with its noble sound as well as precision and energy.’  

Bartosz Kaminski, Gazeta Wyborcza, Warsaw


‘Stylish, brilliant and sovereign interpretation.’   

Der Landbote, Winterthur


‘When the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra travels to the Wycombe Swan, with a “Grand Tchaikovsky Gala”, one anticipates West End concert hall standards. And, under the baton of its Polish born Principal Associate Conductor, Grzegorz Nowak, one most certainly got it… high standards continued with the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture… a refined handling of the romantic tragedy with some truly ecstatic moments. Here the interpretive skills of Nowak were well shown, to produce a deep and satisfying performance… splendid… vivid rendering’ 

Stan Meares, Bucks Free Press


‘Standing ovation… Superb orchestra under a sovereign baton of Grzegorz Nowak was precise, immaculate and expressive.’  

Volker Milch, Wiesbadener Tagblatt


‘Orchestra of the Polish National Opera played convincingly under the baton of Grzegorz Nowak with drive and knowledge of multilayered facets of this tension-rich score. Nowak stressed not only effects, but also worked out delicate and intimate musical details. Performance was impeccable, assured and with great precision. Proper balance between stage and orchestra was always maintained."  

Lars-Erik Gerth, Maintal Tageszeiger


‘Grzegorz Nowak sovereignly conducted the National Opera Orchestra’

Stefan Schickhaus, Frankfurter Rundschau


‘At the podium was Grzegorz Nowak… He conducted a brilliant and very musical performance full of color, sensibility and high precision, reliably engaging the National Opera Orchestra to provide assured accompaniment to singers.’  

Rita Steiner-Rinneberg, Gießener Allgemeine Zeitung


'A robust reading… Judiciously played… tenderly phrased… beautifully played… every delicate nuance detectable… an excitingly-paced accelerando bring it all to a thrilling conclusion… the music is nicely paced as it builds seamlessly to the Allegro. Nowak keeps the development from wandering too far from the main path…The scherzo is the nearest Schumann gets to Mendelssohnian lightness of touch. It is a brilliant movement.… ensemble is immaculate and the final chords are crisply punctuated to thrill. The slow movement is expressively warm, in which the woodwinds shine. Passion builds in the strings before it all subsides to a fugal… The Rhenish Symhony gets a broad reading, with the horn section of the RPO in excellent form… individual playing is very fine: cello, oboe and violin in the second movement Romanze. Nowak coaxes some impressively quiet playing at pianissimo moments here and in the other symphonies. Laudably he also observes all the repeats in all four symphonies.'

Christopher Fifield, MusicWebInternationa, March 2010


‘Beethoven's final two piano concertos are quite contrasting in character but each has its own particular appeal from the soft Elysian calm of the 4th to the heroic triumphalism of the 5th. I was weaned on these concertos by two pianists, Rudolf Kempe and Daniel Barenboim in their trend setting recordings of the late 1960's and early 1970's with Karl Böhm and Otto Klemperer respectively. This new recording with Mario Galeani and Grzegorz Nowak reminded me of those seminal performances as the music sounds as fresh as a daisy and the wonderful interplay between soloist and conductor is palpable just as with Barenboim and Klemperer who although separated by over half a century in age spoke in one voice. The 4 Concerto contains some lovely lyrical pieces and these come alive in a manner which is truly quite special here. The’Emperor’ concerto also has the RPO [Royal Philharmonic Orchestra] on absolute top form throughout with the recording balance delightfully rich and homogeneous. Galeani is never rushed or hurried and he plays the part with extreme technical conviction again ably supported by Nowak. This is surely a version of the 5 to cherish. As already indicated, recordings are of the top drawer quality with ample notes for those who enjoy such material. A real winner from the RPO stable of thoroughbreds.’ 

Gerald Fenech, ClassicalNet


‘Royal Philharmonic Orchestra… with Grzegorz Nowak, principal associate conductor. Here is a conductor with absolute clarity of beat and intention… crisp woodwind sound and luscious string tone were present in a Rossini overture, setting the standard for the evening… Mozart’s final symphony, the ‘Jupiter’… was immediately fresh and sparkling’ 

David Bunkell, Eastern Daily Press


‘You must get this disc… dispatched with panache and imagination by a conductor… playing of the orchestra is well up to the best. Had this collection been issued by Hyperion, music-lovers outside Poland would have been snapping this up in hundreds. Don't let this collection slip past.’   

Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International


‘Nowak… had a firm grip on the score's potential for liquid line and colorful sonority… the performance virtually oozed with excitement.’   

The Buffalo News 


‘This is the finest recording of The Seven Deadly Sins currently available… The whole performance is simply marvelous… Nowak conducts the Kaiserslautern orchestra with a perfect feeling for Weill's brittle, sardonic idiom, and the recording has unusual clarity and impact… it would be difficult to imagine a snappier, more alert performance.’ 

David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday, London 


‘Edmonton Symphony Orchestra brought in numerous fine soloists, but most of the best moments involved just maestro Grzegorz Nowak and the ESO. Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, Brahms’ Tragic Overture, Berlioz’ Sinfonie Fantastique, Franck’s Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and Beethoven’s Eighth all received enthralling performances.’ 

John Charles, Edmonton Sun


‘Grzegorz Nowak accompanied [Krystian Zimerman]... with flexibility and joy… the conductor makes music with a clear vision, consequent concept and energy, challenging instrumentalists and obtaining excellent results.’   

Der Bund, Bern


‘RPO season kicks off in real style. With conductor Grzegorz Nowak at the helm, it had an excellent start… a real rapport between conductor and orchestra was always apparent… Grzegorz Nowak’s intimate understanding of the music was communicated throughout to the orchestra, enabling a committed and ebullient performance.’ 

David Bunkell, Eastern Daily Press 


‘Grzegorz Nowak is that rarity… The music has colour, style, and verve in his hands… his orchestra plays with panache and beauty of tone.’ 

M.C. Passarella, Amazon.com


‘Nowak… uses the orchestra's obvious regard for him to build a series of truly panoramic high points.’   

The Vancouver Sun 


‘A concert in the attractive Winspear Hall showed the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra to be full-toned and attentive to its talented director Grzegorz Nowak.’

Leslie Kandel, American Record Guide


‘Grzegorz Nowak marvelously revived the tragedy of ’Miraculous Mandarin’ arranging contrasting musical phrases with true mastery and presenting with brilliant passion the enormous tragedy contained in the orchestral suite.’  

Deia, Spain


‘Grzegorz Nowak… not only has impeccable gestures but, above all, imprints his vision with hot expression…conducted with assurance, conviction, elegance… magnificent version.   

El Diario Vasco


‘Nowak presented a magnificent vision of Franck Symphony… exemplary interpretation’   

El Correro Español 


‘A new Polish-born star’  

Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo


‘Maestro Simply Divine’  

John Charles, Edmonton Sun