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Lutoslawski: Symphony No.4 CD

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Antoni Wit
  • Composer: Witold Lutoslawski
  • Audio CD (5 Aug. 1996)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000001464
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,235 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Shostakovich referred to Lutoslawski as "The Master". He recognised that Lutoslawski was writing under similar political constraints as himself, and yet was managing to produce works of the highest creative integrity, but with an instant, vital immediacy that found favour with both the censors and the public. A modernist with deep classical roots, and with an exquisite good taste. In fact, much the same agenda as Shostakovich.

Indeed, Lutoslawski had a life as full of drama as Shostakovich, Possibly more so, living through five distinct waves of invasion of his Polish homeland. He lost many of his close relatives to war and to the Russian revolution. He was also a lucky survivor of the Warsaw uprising of 45. Despite all this tragedy, which he was not much disposed to discuss, unlike Shostakovich, you would be hard pressed to identify evidence of these tribulations in his music. Somehow, it seems that his essentially cheerful and humane spirit was never broken by these dreadful traumas. In fact the key characteristics of his mature works are transcendant awe and mystery.

The extraordinary Musique Funebre or Funeral Music for Strings (1958), which is featured on this disc, marks the point in Lutoslawski's career when he finally committed completely to serialism, but very much on his own terms. His music prior to this work was relatively straightforward and tonal in character. Much of it was based on folk themes, typically lively and warm, and often involving bright, colourful ornamentation. However the Musique Funebre marks the point of departure into a totally new realm of extraordinary orchestral colour and rhythmic patterns, that defined a language entirely unique to him, and which he was to explore for the rest of his life.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski is now acknowledged as one of the masters of 20th C classical music using both avante-garde + his own compositional techniques to produce undeniably arresting music that is arguably more approachable + enjoyable to the most noted late 20th C modernist composers - Pierre Boulez or Elliot Carter, if not Gyorgy Ligeti.

As a Lutoslwaski fan of over ten years now - having first being converted to his music via a London Barbican weekend dedicated to his music back in the late 1990s, i would just like to add a brief review here of the Naxos release of his Symphony no.4 etc. This cd although as fine as the others in the excellent series under Antoni Wit + the Polish NRSO for intense, committed playing and interpretation - it is NOT the best introduction to his music as the choice of music for this cd is rather too austere,lacking variety + doesnt do this great composer justice i feel.

Symphony No.4 is a pretty difficult + late work by Lutoslawski (his last Symphony from 1993)which summarises many of his varied techniques into a 20 minute work. its growing on me but lacks the overt brilliance of his Concerto, or vocal works. i would recommend people approach his more lyrical Symphony no.1 then the No.3 would be best to listen to first). Likewise the Chain No.2 for Violin remains in similar subdued territories, although the earlier Funeral Music also played here,is very powerful one of the best works here (and was dedicated to Bartok).this naxos cd for me lacks the diversity of the others in the series.

go instead for the absolutely riveting vocal compositions Chanteflueurs et Chantefables, Trois Poemes + also Mi-Parti.
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Format: Audio CD
A real bargain! Lutoslawski is a superb craftsman and these luminous score bear witness to that. This is a good starting place if you do not know the music of this fascinating composer. Excellent recording and performance.
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By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Feb. 2006
Format: Audio CD
It would probably be fair to say that I have been hearing this and that by Lutoslawski all my life and that it has all gone in one ear and out of the other. What is indisputably true is that this disc marks his debut in my musical collection and the first time I have listened to him with proper attention. Anything I have to say on the subject is therefore addressed to those (presumably many) whose acquaintance with him is on the level of my own and to those (probably a lot fewer) who are interested in improving that state of affairs.
I found these three works surprisingly easy to come to terms with even at a first hearing. The quality of the performances has a lot to do with that - the composer himself is in charge of the top-notch BBC Symphony Orchestra, two of the works have their dedicatees as soloists, and the third has the soloist chosen by its dedicatee for its first performance. The recorded sound is outstandingly good too - quite recent, from 1988/9, with two of the recordings done in the Walthamstow Town Hall, one of the finest recording studios in the world. However, proper credit to the music itself. There is a pleasant variety to the sound with a lot of light and air in the orchestration, particularly right at the start of the disc where the producer has thoughtfully sequenced the piano concerto, rightly identified by the liner-note writer as being the nearest of the three pieces to classical tonality in its idiom. Another thing that I liked about the music is that there is some real sense of movement about it. A predilection for the andante tempo set in among composers as early as the mid-19th century, it has clung to classical music with the grim tenacity of The Old Man of the Sea ever since, and Lutoslawski has managed to shake it off.
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