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Lutoslawski: The Symphonies

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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£10.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details Only 6 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Product details

  • Performer: Esa-Pekka Salonen
  • Audio CD (18 Feb. 2013)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony Music Classical
  • ASIN: B00AK3X3M4
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,964 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Fanfare for Los Angeles Philharmonic
  2. Symphony No. 1 / I. Allegro giusto
  3. Symphony No. 1 / II. Poco adagio
  4. Symphony No. 1 / III. Allegretto misterioso
  5. Symphony No. 1 / IV. Allegro vivace
  6. Symphony No. 2 / I. Hésitant - Los Angeles Philharmonic / Esa-Pekka Salonen / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra / Dawn Upshaw / Peter Crowley
  7. Symphony No. 2 / II. Direct - Los Angeles Philharmonic / Esa-Pekka Salonen / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra / Dawn Upshaw / Paul Crossley

Disc: 2

  1. Symphony No. 3 - Esa-Pekka Salonen / Los Angeles Philharmonic
  2. Symphony No. 4 - Esa-Pekka Salonen / Los Angeles Philharmonic

Product Description

SONY 88765440832; SONY - Italia; Classica Orchestrale

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
Esa-Pekka Salonen was quite the dynamic new blood on the block when this series was recorded on Sony back in the 1990's and the versions here have plenty of energy,panache + attention to detail in these enigmatic 20th Century symphonies.

recording quality is dynamic,clear + with good detailed booklet notes. performances from Salonen conducting the La Phil . as a big fan of Lutoslawski - funnily enough i still struggle overall with his symphonies. why ? no.1 is strongly reminiscent of Bartok (as is Lutoslawski's concerto for orchestra also) + for newcomers a powerful,varied work. highly recommended. symphonies 2-4 offer the listener completely different experience - that of decidely 20th Century elements of unease, uncertainty, enigma, episodes of quiet , episodes of outburst + dissonance. arresting ? certainly. enjoyable if your used to Mahler, Shostakovich,Prokofiev or even Stravinsky's orchestral works ? perhaps not . i leave that the prospective listener to decide for themselves.

the versions here by Salonon are certainly very good , but for me - the best + most authoritive versions still by the composer as conductor himself with fellow countryfolks the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra on EMI: offer the best versions. see my other Lutoslawski reviews also if your curious. also - any newcomers to Lutoslawski would enjoy marvellous works such as chantefleurs un chantefables, mi-parti, piano concerto and the concerto for orchestra ,for perhaps an easier route into this key composer.

overall though - a good series re-released here in their entirety as complete set at mid-price now.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Lutoslawski is very much an acquired taste which I have not as yet acquired. After having heard his second and fourth symphonies performed in Berlin by the Berliner Philharmoniker, I was tempted to buy the whole set by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The second symphony is unique in my experience since the players improvise large sections while the conductor (in this case Sir Simon Rattle) stands around wondering what to do with his hands, more interesting visually than aurally. Of the four symphonies in this set, the most interesting and musical is the first with influence ranging from Copeland to Shostakovich, very 20th century modern. The performances on these discs is first rate, with the LA Philharmonic playing well under Esa-Pekka Salonen and the sound very good. If you like Lutoslawski, you should buy this set, but if he isn't your cup of tea, look elsewhere. However I am glad to have these discs to remember a couple of great nights with a great orchestra at the Philharmonie. I might add that the set was received damaged due to the over-sized packing which the mailman had to force through the slot.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x97928a44) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97974a38) out of 5 stars At long last, the complete Lutosławski symphonies and Salonen 3 April 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Witold Lutosławski 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.

Fortunately for everyone Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic bonded with Witold Lutoslawski in an understandable union: Lutoslawski blossomed as a very important voice in Contemporary Music at the same time Salonen took over the helm of the LA Philharmonic. There is also an affinity for Lutoslawski's music inherent in the very city of Los Angeles - a place of the avante garde, a testing ground for the leading edge in all the arts, and a populace open to embracing the new. From the beginning the presentation of Lutoslawski's works were lauded by both the audiences and critics, to the point that at the end of his career Lutoslawski had formed a warm affinity for LA and vice versa. Salonen has been recording Lutoslawski works from the beginning of his relationship with the LA Phil and the collaboration has produced some of the finest recordings of the composer's works. And though there are other release of Salonen records of the symphonies 2, 3 and 4, this is the first recoding of the 1st symphony. This re-release package of Salonen's long-heralded readings of the second, third and fourth Lutosławski symphonies is made complete with a brand-spanking-new live rendering of the composer's first effort in the piece, recorded all the way back in December 2012 at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Lutosławski's First Symphony, begun during the ravages of World War II and only completed in 1947, is quite unlike the later works. It's full of Stravinsky-esque motivic pileups and neoclassical-informed moments of bouncy fanfare. Though a four-movement work in a somewhat traditional vein, some of Lutosławski later-codified structural innovations - like the psych-out climax followed by a brief, quiet coda - are already in tip-top working order here. But it lacks some of the things that we think of when we think of Lutosławski, such as his aleatoric moments, or the mercurial darkness he often created by toggling between sparse chamber moments and cluster-chord tutti blarings. Salonen's long-term marinating in the Lutosławski juices makes his version of this under-heard symphony easily the best currently available. For consistency of both instrumental clarity and overall excitement, this long-in-the-completion Salonen cycle of the symphonies and just the symphonies is now the most efficient (and cost-effective) way to get to know that justly worthy Lutosławski catalog. Grady Harp, April 13
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97fb7384) out of 5 stars Any classical music fan will enjoy at least a couple of Lutoslawski's symphonies, but this box set is not ideal for all 9 Oct. 2013
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen originally recorded Witold Lutoslawski's Symphonies 2-4 and the brief "Fanfare for the LA Philharmonic" for CBS/Sony Classical in the 1980s and 1990s, a couple of acclaimed discs (1 2) that many fans of 20th century music are already likely to have. With this 2013 reissue, Sony now offers a recording of Lutoslawski's First. However, whether you'll want this particular set or not depends on you, see below.

Of course, that Symphony No. 1 (1947) is not one of the Polish composer's masterpieces, being written early in his career when he was still seeking a distinctive voice. This is a fairly anonymous Neoclassical work in four movements (Allegro giusto, Poco adagio, Allegretto misterioso, and Allegro vivace), with the rhythmic zest of Bartók and Stravinsky. Lutoslawski does extend tonality to a degree that troubled the Communist establishment, but never in a way that is recognizably his own. This is a live recording and there is applause at the end.

Lutoslawski's fully mature style, in my opinion, came only in the late 1950s when he decided to embrace total chromaticism and introduce "ad libitum" sections into his works, where the musicians are given clearly defined pitches but the conductor stops beating time. The result is a bubbly texture that could not be achieved through other means. The "Symphony No. 2" (1968) was Lutoslawski's first large-scale orchestral work using these techniques. The two movements bear the titles "Hesitant" and "Direct", and the symphony sounds like what they imply. First, we hear a series of episodes, with a recurring refrain between each, that builds tension and leads to no sure release. But then something truly magical happens. The myriad disparate threads join together, like birds circling around into formation. The second movement is continuous, with no sectioning like the first, giving a sense of perpetual expansion. The orchestral parts never all play the same thing, the strings often stand apart from the rest, as do the winds, but they are heard as united in terms of purpose. It sounds awesome and if you like, say, Ligeti's large micropolyphony works, you should get to know this piece.

The brief "Fanfare for the L.A. Philharmonic" was written in 1973, and consists of fluid textures clashing with staccato fanfare-like gestures. I find it fascinating, even though it is less than a minute long total.

"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. Again Lutoslawski takes up a bipartite "hesitant" and "direct" form, but expands it into four parts with a clearly episodic feel. Repeated motifs act as signposts in spite of the formlessness that Lutoslawski wants to prevail for much of the work. The piece opens with a repeated E, which many may hear as an allusion to Beethoven's Fifth, and after a long symphonic journey, the work suddenly coheres into a quasi-romantic finale and ends on the same hammering E's. The Third is often seen as Lutoslawski's greatest symphony and accessible to a very wide audience, Even if I marginally prefer the Second, this one has fascinated me for years and years.

"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 more neo-Romantic style. Aleatorism still plays a role (but quite diminished), but the harmonies are more conventional and there is a more lyrical touch. It is hard to knock this symphony, as it is much richer and complex than most late Lutoslawski, but one does feel that he had already said everything he had to say in symphony form with the previous two.

If you are a fan of the kind of 20th century modernism that marked Lutoslawski's middle-period, then I'd recommend skipping this Symphonies reissue and instead purchasing the two Sony discs I mentioned above, because then you get the excellent "Les espaces du sommeil" for baritone and ensemble, one of Lutoslawski's masterpieces. Even if you prefer Lutoslawski's more conventional music, those discs offer other works in that vein like the Piano Concerto. And what of the Symphony No. 1, you might ask? Well, if you really want to hear that, it was recorded by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra under Antoni Wit on Naxos, in a series of recordings I'd earnestly recommend as a companion to Salonen's readings.

All in all, it's a real shame that Sony couldn't reissue *all* of the Salonen/LA Phil. recordings of Lutoslawski instead of confronting listeners with overlapping products.
HASH(0x97de0ab0) out of 5 stars Lutoslawski, Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic - wow! 23 May 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a release that showcases the super-virtuoso skills the L.A. Phil., as much as it just does any honor or justice to Lutoslawski's unique contribution to the symphonic form. There's even a hot fanfare thrown in for good measure, composed specifically for the L.A. Philharmonic.

Lutoslawki's third and fourth symphonies incorporate aleatoric passages - passages that call upon the players to improvise on a series of suggested notes. This isn't just a gimmick, but an integral part of the fabric and textures to these two symphonies. Being so great and comfortable with modern music, the Los Angeles musicians never sound hesitant or embarrassed by these passages.

It may sound as though I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill, but the point is this: Lutoslawski, Salonen and Los Angeles are something of a dream-team, a perfect fit. The sound quality could be a tad sharper and clearer in the earlier Sony releases (symphonies 3 and 4), but could hardly any better in the more recent recording of the first symphony, captured in the relatively new Disney Hall.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x980cb600) out of 5 stars Complete Symphonies in Wonderful Authentic Performances 19 April 2013
By Mr. R. Allen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Despite competition from Gardner on Chandos, these, in my opinion, are the finest performances of these symphonies currently available. Performances and recordings are impeccable.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97cdcb34) out of 5 stars wonderful performances 2 Oct. 2013
By Susan Fancher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My husband is a fan of Lutoslawski's music. This was a gift for him. Perfect! Gorgeous recording of these pieces.
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