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Lutoslawski: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4, Les espaces du sommeil
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Lutoslawski: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4, Les espaces du sommeil

4 Oct 1994 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 4 Oct 1994
  • Release Date: 4 Oct 1994
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:07:33
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001GTHM7S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,237 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By N. E. M. Goulder on 6 Mar 2007
Format: Audio CD
It's been a privilege to me to have owned this CD for 12 years now. Lutoslawski spent many years refining his language before finding the voice that created these three timeless masterpieces. I don't care enormously for his earlier music, but by the time we reach his 3rd Symphony we are in direct line of succession from Mahler's great symphonic architecture. The tension in Salonen's performance of the 3rd builds impeccably, from the opening fusillades, through to the pitched percussion and flute fragments, into the intense fugato which drives the music to its first major climax. The second string fugato, introduced with wonderful precision pizzicato, fires through to brilliant dance-like music which surges only to lock the musicians in an aural whirlpool. From here the drama unfolds with heatfelt cantilena writing, into the vast epilogue, filling almost a third of the work. Finally the epic introduction to the coda leads to the spectacular, ecstatic explosion of light percussion which ultimately is flattened by the brass in a statement of heroic defiance.

I could write in a similar vein about the (aurally more beautiful but musically less colossal) 4th Symphony, while the contribution from John Shirley-Quirk in Les Espaces du Sommeil is characteristically distinguished. The 4th, with its marvellously atmospheric opening and its outrageously wonderful coda, is a great classic; it merits many more performances than it gets. This is one of the great CD's of 20th century music. You may well find the sound world a little intractable on first hearings, particularly the 3rd Symphony, but the debt to Mahler is unmistakeable. If you enjoy anything written by Alban Berg, this is a must.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Barber on 1 May 2011
Format: Audio CD
I have also had this CD since it came out and agree completely with the last reviewer excerpt that, curiously, I hear also something of Ravel too. Of the third symphony I can only add that this performance outclasses the composer's own. I heard the composer conduct the fourth in one of his last performances; Salonen's performance is at least as magical - it is an entrancing work with a performance to match.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By enthusiast TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Nov 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These are razor sharp accounts of the last two of Lutoslawski's symphonies (plus Les Espaces Du Sommeil). Salonen is a real communicator. The two symphonies are very rewarding works of maturity - masterpieces, surely - that may at first seem a little obscure but open up to repeated hearings quite quickly. In addition, Salonen has a real talent for making sense of this music. I don't know about these versions being "the best" but this record is a huge bargain (the download is currently less than 3!!!) and contains some really compelling music making. And certainly Salonen's accounts are as good as you will ever hear.
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By Lance Edwards on 29 Dec 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bought this on the basis of reviews. On first hearing a little like Holmboe's sound world perhaps but need to listen much more than I have done so far.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Salonen's Third is better than the composer's own version 4 Jun 2005
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The first recording I heard of Lutoslawski's Third Symphony was the first, with Lutoslawski himself conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in November, 1985. You can find it on The Essential Lutoslawski (see my review), an excellent 2-disc Philips set, and now on a 20C reissue (see my review). The Third was widely acclaimed as one of Lutoslawski's masterpieces, but I just didn't hear it. About three years later, I finally heard Salonen's recording with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, from just one month later, December, 1985 -- it is a much stronger, more biting, more convincing interpretation and performance. A clear lesson that composers are not always their own best interpreters! (So the four stars is for composition, not for conducting, performance or recording, all of which merit five stars.)

Lutoslawski's Third Symphony was commissioned by Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. When the Polish composer finally completed it after many years in 1983, Solti and the CSO premiered the work. However, the CSO didn't finally record it until 1992 after Daniel Barenboim had taken over. I consider the Salonen/LAP recording to be the best by a hair, with the Barenboim/CSO (see my review) close behind. The composer's own recording is fine, but lacks the sharp detail of the other two.

The Third opens dramatically with a staccato note repeated four times, similar in that sense, but not in tone, to Beethoven's Fifth. It seems structureless to me, meandering through what sounds like a long series of digressions with no main action. The markings (make available for some reason only in with the CSO recording) make clear that the problem sets in right after the opening, in sections called "Lento," then three called "Stesso movimento," and an "Adagio." Only with the "Vivo" section about nine minutes in does the 4-note theme repeat, and the volume and dynamics increase. From there to the end things get more interesting, but again, not with any discernable structure. There is a crescendo in the last section called "Poco lento," culminating in a restatement of the 4-note theme.

The Fourth Symphony, one of Lutoslawski's last, was commissioned by Salonen and the LAP. It is a shorter work for smaller forces, sounding more like chamber music than a symphony. Though less ambitious than the Third, it is more coherent. I prefer the version on Naxos, though, with Antoni Wit conducting the Polish National Radio Symphony. By comparison, Salonen's version is more wispy, emphasizing details and texture that sound Debussian and Bartokian, while Wit's version is fuller-bodied, more Romantic.

I still recommend THE ESSENTIAL LUTOSLAWSKI as the best introduction for new listeners. It contains several works that I consider to be much better than these symphonies -- the "Concerto for Orchestra" (better than Bartok's work by the same name!), "Venetian Games," "Funeral Music," and the "Concerto for oboe, harp and chamber orchestra." Another great collection is an EMI 2-disc GEMINI set (see my review). Recorded in Poland in the mid-1970s, it features the composer conducting six works, some of which are more dissonant and avant-garde than most I've heard by him, including vocal and choral works. It also includes a fantastic 1995 performance of the "String Quartet" by the Alban Berg Quartet. And another EMI 2-disc set with Symphonies 1 & 2 and the best performance of the "Concerto for Orchestra" is great too. It has been reissued many times, most recently in the 20th Century Classics series (see my review).

(verified purchase from Virgin Records in Edinburgh, Scotland)
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Music for our time...and for all time 21 Aug 2002
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Witold Lutoslawski is by now assured a repertoire staple, in many ways thanks to the commitment of Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Of the many giants of 20th Century music few were as introspective and compelled to discover a mode of expressing the psyche as Lutoslawski. My first introduction to his work was in the 1970s, listening to the rehearsals and subsequent performance of his 'Concerto for Orchestra' and it was love at first sound. Yet hearing how this quiet giant grew in his orchestrating techniques, his exploration of sound clouds and finding exquisite melody in a format of linear atonal composition all culminating in his 4th Symphony is no less than astonishing.
This disc captures the heart of the composer, with Salonen and his radiant orchestra presenting performances that are clean, rich, fully textured and eloquent. Coupling the 3rd and 4th symphonies with the 'Les Espaces du Sommeil'("Realm of Sleep" by Robert Desnos who died in a concentration camp shortly after the end of WWII) as interpreted by John Shirley-Quirk is very fine programming. This disc is destined to be an important part of every complete classical recording library.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Two masterpieces and a solid late work 19 Jun 2006
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This Sony disc containing three works by Witold Lutoslawski is already something of a legend. It contains three world premiere recordings of some of his grandest pieces, interpreted by the L.A. Philharmonic and its acclaimed conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, with John Shirley-Quirk as baritone solo in the middle work.

"Symphony No. 3" (1983) was commissioned in the early 1970s by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but appeared only a decade later after several false starts. It lies in between two clearly defined eras of the composer's work, containing both the aleatorism of the 1960s and 1970s and hints of the return to accessibility of his late neoclassical phase. Nonetheless, each of these two tendencies is blunted so that they exist in great harmony, forming a piece that is quite different from his other works though unmistakably Lutoslawski. The score is precisely notated--there are no "wavy lines" here, but the element of chance is provided by a large series of "ad libitum" sections which are unconducted. I've always had a hard time hearing an overall form for this piece, which starts from a series of hammering E notes and then wanders off. The composer claims that it's got four sections, but I have a hard time hearing it. However, that does not mean that the Third is boring. The frustration of not being able to speak of the structure of the symphony makes it harder for me to communicate to readers here just how great it is. It might be a somewhat formless blog, but it is beautiful, and in the end when this formlessness suddenly takes on a very directed form towards a quasi-romantic finale and ends on the same hammering E's., it's stunning.

"Les Espaces du Sommeil" for baritone and orchestra (1975) is a magisterial setting of Robert Desnos' poem about how in sleep we enter an irrational world of rich possibilities. While initially drifting, uncertain, lost, the music comes to a crashing climax. This is less immediately accesible than either of the other two pieces here, but slowly reveals its charms, and now I think it is my favourite piece for baritone out of all such compositions in the 20th century.

"Symphony No. 4" (1992) was written towards the end of Lutoslawski's career, some time after he had exchanged the rich avant-gardism of his middle period for a much more restrained style. Aleatorism still plays a role (but quite diminished), but the harmonies are more conventional and there is a more lyrical touch. I'm not too happy with this symphony, it certainly pales next to the Second and Third, but the brighter side of things is that it's not as dull as most of Lutoslawski's late work.

The major competition is from Naxos, which has the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit. Both Salonen and Wit do equally well, and there's little to complain about in terms of performance. What this Sony disc has going for it are are excellent liner notes, containing not only the usual description of the works and the sung text, but also Salonen's personal reminiscing of what Lutoslawski's music means to him. Since the Third is often seen as Lutoslawski's masterpiece, this disc would make a great introduction to his art, and its an economical purchase. I should mention, though, that if you like the Third, the very next disc you should buy is the Naxos release with his "Chain 3", very similar in sound.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Salonen strikes again! 22 July 2001
By Vladimir - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Symphony No.3 by Lutoslawski is a great masterpiece of the XX century. Lutoslawski was, among the four great polish composers of our time (Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Gorecki, Serocki) maybe the most interesting besides Penderecki. The Symphony No.3 is developed in one movement with an striking wisdom, a delightful sense of orchestral colour and powerful motives. (The beginning for example, reminds us, that of the Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (1st movement)) This recording is a great one and it is strongly recommendable. Another good choices are Wit and Baremboim.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, if not quite true to the score 5 Nov 2009
By Personne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Lutoslawski's Third Symphony is one of the finest works in this form of the century. It is bold and sweeping, using nothing less than Beethoven's own Fifth Symphony as a rhythmic framework. Unlike many modern symphonic works, it doesn't shy away from an honest-to-goodness climax. It is a piece that will have you on the edge of your seat.

I own the score to this symphony, and it's obvious that Salonen does not always follow the score directions faithfully. Sometimes he raises the dynamic level, sometimes he ignores mute indications. Salonen himself is a composer, and I suppose he couldn't resist a few "improvements". It's an exciting performance to be sure, but one should also be familiar with a more accurate performance (the series by Antoni Wit on Naxos is quite true).

I don't think the Fourth Symphony quite rises to the heights of the Third, but it's still a fine piece. It ends with a quiet coda that must be a third the length of the piece.

"Les Espaces du Sommeil" is a wonderful example of orchestral lieder. Evocative and colorful, it haunts the imagination. There's a downward-winding vocal line at one key moment that you wish could go on forever. We are fortunate to have several excellent performances of this piece. John Shirley-Quirk does the honors on this CD. I knew his voice well from many performances under Britten and Davis. It's awfully nice to hear it applied to this deserving music.

There are few of Lutoslawski's pieces that aren't available in multiple recordings. I own most of them. As with any other truly great composer, a single performance cannot capture all of a piece. To those that don't know this composer, this CD is a good place to start. To those that do, make a little room on your bookshelf for it.
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