- Conductor: Edward Gardener
- Composer: Witold Lutosawski
- Audio CD (25 Feb. 2013)
- Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
- Label: Chandos
- ASIN: B00B5UBGVQ
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,117 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works Vol. 4 (Dance Preludes/ Symphony No. 1)
Audio CD | SACD, Hybrid SACD
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SUPER AUDIO CD IN SURROUND SOUND
This is the fifth and now final volume in our survey of orchestral works by the Polish composer Witold Lutosawski. Gramophone wrote of a previous volume in the series (CHSA 5106) that it 'offers a broad view of Lutosawski's creative profile, which the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner fleshes out with playing that is as polished as it is animated, and alert to the individuality of Lutosawski's musical vocabulary and mode of expression'.
Lutosawski wrote his Symphony No. 1 between 1941 and 1947, but interestingly it does not display any obvious signs of his trying to come to terms with the ordeal that befell his people. Quite the opposite, in fact. Lutosawski himself described the symphony as bright and cheerful, 'because that was the idea of the composition, which was conceived in the period of independence before the war, but brought into being during the terrible wartime and in far from idyllic post-war years'. At the time, one Polish colleague went so far as to call it 'fauvist', so wild and vibrant did it appear to the audiences at its first performance in April 1948.
Lutosawski was a meticulous collector of folk materials in the first half of the 1950s, but for him, Dance Preludes was a 'farewell to folklore', even though he privately still explored folk tunes for several more years. Here the orchestra and conductor are joined by the clarinettist Michael Collins, an exclusive Chandos artist.
As his career developed in the more open environment that emerged after the 'socialist-realist' period, Lutosawski began to receive international recognition, and with the Partita (1984, orchestrated 1988), for violin and orchestra, he presented a newly relaxed, more melodic compositional style to the public. The soloist is the exclusive Chandos artist Tasmin Little.
Chain 2 (1984 85) was premiered by Anne-Sophie Mutter on 31 January 1986 with Collegium Musicum, conducted by Paul Sacher to whom it was dedicated. On this recording Tasmin Little leads the orchestra through a succession of ideas, much as the soloist had done in the 'Episodes' movement of the Cello Concerto (recorded on CHSA 5106 with Paul Watkins).
Witold Lutoslawski (1913-94) wrote much of his First Symphony during the second world war. The opening has an angular, witty quality mirrored in the last movement, with no hint at the turbulence of the times. In contrast, the inner sections have a strange melancholy in the Adagio, a sorrowful string tune and mawkish oboe solo, in the Allegretto a subdued waltz. The BBCSO and Edward Gardner, in the latest of this excellent series, capture the range of moods eloquently. They're joined by clarinettist Michael Collins for the brief, cheerful Preludia taneczne (1955), and by Tasmin Little, a powerful soloist in Partita and Chain 2. The Polish composer, neglected of late, wholly deserves this attention in his centenary year. --Guardian, 21/03/13
Little is a match technically for Mutter and the oddly detached Bakowski, and her playing is audibly warm than either.With superior Chandos sound, this is now the version to have.Highly recommended. --Gramophone, May'13
But perhaps the most valuable aspects of this disc are the two early , less frequently heard works. The First Symphony, composed during World War II , is hardly the cheerful piece so characterised by Lutoslawski, but its Bartokian bite is powerful in the impressive performance Gardner draws here. Performance & Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, June'13
The standout work here is the 1988 Partita an orchestration of a 1984 work for violin and piano, which brilliantly fuses this composer's early and mature styles. Three brief interludes remain scored for piano accompaniment. The central Largo is the highlight, and the work's abrupt coda sounds both triumphant and disquieting. Tasmin Little is a big-hearted soloist, and she also gives us Lutoslawski's Chain 2. Both pieces are stunners, and excellent entry points into this composer's deeply personal, accessible brand of musical modernism. --Artdesk,01/06/13
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Somewhere along the line, however, Lutoslawski ditched tunes and structures which I can understand, resulting in the 1980s in music I find just baffling. On the cusp of the these two periods, we find the undoubtedly great 'Cello Concerto of 1969.
Interestingly, this recordings features two pieces from each period - the early dance prelude and First Symphony- both of these accessible, musically cogent, fun and fascinating. These are matched with two (IMO) po-faced 'advanced' pieces - Partita and Chain 2 which, frankly, leave me cold. But you can judge for yourself!
OK, I suspect this may simply reflect my inability to cope with really avant garde modern music, perhaps - but I suspect my response might not be unique!
Fortunately, I can be far less equivocal when it comes to assessing the sound quality (SACD stereo layer); it's simply fabulous, and state-of-the-art in every respect. It's supremely transparent, neutral, airy and timbrally accurate, with great staging, hall sound and dimensionality. This judgement will come as no surprise to afficionados of current generation Chandos recordings- they really are on a hot streak right now!
Needless to say, Ralph Couzens is simply a genius of a sound engineer; we have a fine and proven hall here in the Watford Colosseum; and the Thuresson main miking set sounds - er... not there at all. Add this to the proven Chandos minimalist approach, low mike count and transparent signal stages, and we can get sonic magic.
That what this disc offers. Enjoy... or maybe not!