This is the fourth volume in Chandos series devoted to the music of the Polish composer Witold Lutosawski. Edward Gardner
and the BBC Symphony Orchestra
, described by Gramophone
as a veritable dream team
in a review for Vol. 1, are joined on this recording by the cellist and exclusive Chandos artist Paul Watkins
Lutosawski drew his main thematic material for Little Suite (Maa suita)
from folk melodies from the village of Machów in south-east Poland. As such he was following one of the paths recommended by the communist government for connecting to the broad masses by creating what today might be called peoples music. In this work Lutosawski demonstrates his characteristic lightness of touch, excellent ear for orchestral timbre, and ability to transform his material into something highly individual.
The Second Symphony (1965 67) was Lutosawskis first large-scale orchestral work since the Concerto for Orchestra (1950 54), and a lot had happened in Poland since the premiere of that work. The government had significantly eased its cultural restrictions for music, which meant that Polish composers were becoming increasingly exposed to new ideas from the West. Lutosawski, ever his own man, chartered a distinctive path through this thicket of new music, and by the mid-60s he had developed his own individual and expressive idiom. In the Second Symphony, he creates an atmosphere of tense anticipation in the opening stages, before drawing the listener into the ensuing, more purposefully developed music, which reaches a climactic explosion and resolution.
Paul Watkins is the soloist in the Cello Concerto, one of the most original works of recent times. While Lutosawski insisted that this highly dramatic work was a purely musical drama, Mstislav Rostropovich, its dedicatee, considered the music to be a mirror of his own battles with the authorities in the Soviet Union in the late 1960s and 70s.
, for solo cello and strings, for the first time in his life (not counting folk-inspired pieces), Lutosawski based a work on the music of another composer: the first four notes of Debussys Pelléas et Mélisande
. He takes Debussys motif and transforms it from intense musings into a free-flowing succession of robust and vigorous shapes.
The centrepiece in this third disc is the Cello Concerto,dedicated to Rostropovich and played with dazzling poise by Paul Watkins. Try some --Observer, 18/11/12
...BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardiner fleshes out with playing that is as polished as it is animated and alert to the individuality of Lutoslawski's musical vocabulary and mode of expression. --Gramophone, Christmas '12
The performances continue the highly favourable impression of this series to date, with Gardner securing playing of real immediacy and finesse from a BBC Symphony Orchestra that sounds as fully engaged in the lighter aspect of the composer s music as in its more searching utterances. --IRR,Dec'12
Highly Compelling. Performance **** Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, Feb'13
One of the Top 10 Modern Classical CDs of 2012 --Sunday Times