as a keen admirer of Polish composer Witold Lutoslaski's music- i bought this cd a year or so ago as was keen to have a version of his Symphony No.1, and compare the version here by Antoni Wit conducting the Polish NRSO (as he does in the entire naxos label Lutoslawski series) of the soprano song cycle Chantefleurs et Chantefables. the good news is Wit + cohorts recording again like their other recordings for naoxs date from 1996-7 and this cd contains keen , alert, dynamic + totally idiomatic readings of fellow countryman Lutoslawski's work.
Symphony No.1(composed 1941-47):
is along with his slightly later Concerto for Orchestra a dynamic, tonal + fairly conventional symphony with echoes of Bartok's Concerto, containing motifs that were to re-appear in his own Concerto. an approachable Symphony perhaps lacking the grand sweep of Prokofiev, Shostakovich or Stravinsky but eminently enjoyable.
the Silesian Triptych :
is another early work, again is very enjoyable , contains good orchestral shading to the expressive writing for Soprano (Olga Pasieczik) and bears similarities to the late romantic tradition but with darker hues again redolent of Bartok. a very enjoyable but not a startlingly original work. finally - i would recommend the composers own pretty definitive versions conducting his main orchestral works on EMI at budget price for their arguably more commanding performances.
Jeux Venitiens :
is a later work from Lutoslawski (a commission in 1961) and is undoubteldy the most demanding work here. austere, dissonant, using arresting sonorities + clearly features techniques that embracing the Darmstadt school composers serial techniques used by Boulez,Berio etc. its an unusual ,arresting modernist work but not for the casual listener. i would suggest his work: Mi-Parti is a more fully realised work to this.
Chantefleurs er Chantefables:
returns to rather more approachable shores but retains Lutoslawski's marvellous sense of dynamic contrast, mystery + originality. the naxos verison here is fine, but i prefer the taughter conducting under Salonen on sony with Dawn Upshaw (see my review for that if curious). one of my favourite works by this composer.
final work - Postludium:
returns to eery use of dissonant strings, orchestra + abstract paino + winds in the style of a more agitated Gyorgy Ligeti. again ,an arresting if perhaps over wrought, austere work.
overall - this cd is another in the fine budget naxos range that introduces serious music fans with an excellent overview of strong works by one of the 20th Century's most accomplished composers.