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Lutoslawski: Symphonies, Concertos, etc

Lutoslawski: Symphonies, Concertos, etc

4 Aug 2008
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Witold Lutoslawski
Polish Composer. 1913-1994.
having attended a very enjoyable concert as part of of this composer retrospective weekend in 1996 at the the Barbican in london - i have been a big fan ever since of this most approachable (overall) of the late 20th C modernist composers. why ? this excellent triple cd should provide ample proof why..

this EMI triple cd collection adds further orchestral works to their earlier double forte double cd collection from 1999 with additional works such as Preludes & Fugue for 13 Solo Strings, Trois Poèmes D'Henri Michaux, Paroles Tisées + the Postlude No. 1 - all given arresting, vivid performances under the baton of the composer himself and his fellow countryfolk. personally i could have "lost" the Symphony no.2 on cd 1 + have the wonderous orchestral song cycle "Chantefleurs et Chantefables" added instead but the composer didn't to my knowledge record this song cycle alas,but Dawn Upshaw's version with Salonen on sony is excellent.

good ,dynamic recordings, near definitive authoritive perforances - all repackaged in an attractive 3 cd collection .asking the question - why really bother buying other versions when these are pretty much definitive ?

strongly recommended, as is Salonen's sony series and Wit on naxos also. see my other Lutoslawski reviews for comparison, but really these recordings with the composer must be considered definitive + at a repackaged here at super budget price.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am happy that I bought this boxed set and have found it interesting and very good value. Though I had earlier known some songs of Lutoslawski and liked them, I am not very taken by these orchestral works. That's just my taste, nothing wrong with the performances.
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This 3 CD collection of the Polish composer Lutoslawski orchestral music covers a period in the composers life from the 1930s to the late 1960s. It is a challenging range of music by a composer influenced by Schoenberg, John Cage and including the throw of a dice to create chance elements in his music.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good collection from a pivotal 20th Century composer. 10 Feb. 2014
By John Pearsall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I connected with Lutoslawski in the sixties when Decca recorded his
Concerto for Orchestra. And later, James DePriest recorded it on his
Delos debut recording with the Oregon Symphony and that clinched it for me.
My love for Lutoslawski's unique idiom became firmly established.

This EMI collection was done in the composer's native Poland over a couple years
in the seventies and the analog recording gives us fine performances from everyone.
One can quibble about individual works being better realized by others, but what's important
here is that we have this lovely and comprehensive collection available as a bargain
re-issue. And conducted by the the composer, no less.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Word "WOW" 26 May 2013
By Thomas A. Overstreet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This was my first exposure to Lutoslawski and it completely tore my head off. The sound quality and performance and both excellent and extremely tight. If you've never heard Lutoslawski before, he puts an orchestra through it's paces like no other composer and very creatively. This collection has turned me into a huge fan of Lutoslwaski and has me collecting every recording of his compositons I can get my hands on. A great starting place and a shining star in any Lutoslawski collection.

Tom Overstreet
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Lutoslawski conducts his orchestral works, composed from 1936 to 1976 28 Jun. 2012
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This 3-disc set packages EMI's great recordings of Lutoslawski's orchestral works from 1976/1977. The conductor leads the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra in great performances. (The first two discs have more recently been released in the 20th Century Classics series.)

DISC ONE
Symphonic Variations (1936-38) 8'52
Symphony No. 1 (1941-47) 24'43
Musique Funebre (Funeral Music for Strings) (1954-58) 13'30
Symphony No. 2 (1965-67) 31'22

The pre-war "Symphonic Variations" is a light piece in the Stravinskian mode. Clearly Lutoslawski has not yet developed his own voice. "Symphony No. 1" is very strong, an excellent first symphony heavily influenced by the music of Stravinsky, Bartok, Hindemith, Prokofiev, and Roussel. Lutoslawski's distinctive voice is not yet heard, but it was being forged as he grappled with and synthesized some of the best of the early 20th century's developments. With dynamic, propulsive outer movements and inner movements compellingly reflective, "Symphony No. 1" gives no sign of being written during the war. By the time is was completed it would have made uplifting post-war music, but it was banned by the Polish regime because it made some slight use of Schoenberg's 12-tone method, which was strictly forbidden at the time.

Subsequently Poland pursued a more open cultural policy, and Lutoslawski was able to experiment more boldly as the 1950s progressed. "Musique Funebre" is one of his masterpieces, a 12-tone work dedicated to Bartok that anyone can love, with a strong shape and dark tones featuring the interval of a semitone as an anchor. "Symphony No. 2" is one of Lutoslawski's most radical works, featuring the "aleatoric" method of "ad libitum" playing from the orchestra, forcing the musicians to choose their own notes in many passages, within strict limits. The symphony is in two parts: Hesitant and Direct. The first part basically sets a mood, and is relatively formless. Then the second part forges strong contrasts and dynamics with blocks of instruments playing ad libitum. It definitely summons the rebellious, liberatory mood of 1967 -- "feed your head" indeed! I first heard this piece over 10 years ago, the later recording by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Sony. I was thoroughly unimpressed. This composer-led performance is much better, and now I can appreciate the radical score.

DISC TWO
Concerto for Orchestra (1950-54) 28'26
Jeux venitiens (1960-61) 12'58
Livre pour orchestre (1968) 21'12
Mi-parti (1975-76) 14'35

Lutoslawski's "Concerto for Orchestra" is another of his masterpieces. While it shares some aspects of structure with Bartok's better-known piece of the same name, the content is altogether different. And while Bartok mocked Shostakovich with a quote from his Symphony No. 7, Lutoslawski respectfully includes the D-S-C-H motto in his final movement. The opening "Intrada: Allegro maestoso" is very strong and memorable, reminiscent of Shostakovich. It then moves through a quieter "Capriccio notturno e Arioso" before moving into a powerful closing "Allegro gusto." I have heard several recordings of this work, and this is by far the best, bringing out its rich Romantic potential in a way missed by Barenboim and the CSO. The PRNSO sounds splendid!

The three works that follow are all among Lutoslawski's most radical. "Jeux venitiens" (Venetian Games) is another masterpiece. It has always been one of my favorite Lutoslawski works, moving through delightful passages with light, airy instrumentation and making use of the aleatory method for the first time. "Livre pour orchestre" (Book for Orchestra) surprises the ear right away with its use of glissandos, indicating that Lutoslawski has been listening to Xenakis. Along with "Symphony No. 2" and the "String Quartet," this represents the high point of Lutoslawski's Sixties radicalism. The book bears repeated readings, but does not easily yield its secrets. Finally, "Mi-parti" is a lovely piece that is part of the conductor's move back toward convention, including passages of gentle lyricism and simplicity. Ultimately with works including his "Piano Concerto" he would abandon his Sixties experimentation altogether, but here he is only on the path, he has not yet arrived. It sounds superb.

DISC THREE
Preludes and Fugue for 13 solo strings (1972) 33'33
Trois poemes d'Henri Michaux (1963) 20'21
Paroles tissees (1965) 13'51
Postlude No. 1 (1958) 4'03

"Preludes and Fugue for 13 solo strings" is a complex work that will sound forbidding to many, it is constructed from six lines (cantabile, grazioso, lamentoso, misterioso, estatico and furioso) bundled into seven interlocked preludes and an extended fugue. Then follow two vocal works, which are quite accessible and appealing -- "Trois poemes d'Henri Michaux" for twenty-part all female choir and orchestra, and "Paroles tissees" featuring the tenor Louis Devos. "Trois poems" includes some of the wildest, funniest passages I've heard from Lutoslawski, while the tenor piece, which evokes medieval love poetry, is one of the warmest and most moving. "Postlude No. 1" is a very impressive orchestral work. It makes you wish for more, but apparently Lutoslawski was dissatisfied with No.s 2 and 3.

*** *** ***

EMI has reissued this music many times. And this set has also been reissued by Brilliant. But whatever package it comes in, it sounds great -- essential music from one of the finest late 20th century composers.
2 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gets a little predictable? 29 Dec. 2012
By T. Strokes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The first couple of CDs are interesting. At some point the composer seems to have gotten on a kick where his music emulates recorded music being played in reverse. Strings do unusual trail-offs in pitch. The technique works as unique for a short time but becomes over-used and boring (when will this end).
2 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My ears hurt! 2 Jun. 2013
By V. Register - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The next time I have a friend over who does not like classical music and I want to get rid of them, this is the music. Not something I will listen to over and over again. Way to dissonant for my tastes. Not a melody in the entire 3 cd set.
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