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Cat. No. CHSA 5098 Price: £11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5098 - Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works, Volume II
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Available From: 15 December 2011
Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works, Volume II

This is the third volume in the Chandos series devoted to the music of the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski. It brings together his first surviving orchestral piece (The Symphonic Variations) and his last symphony, as well as two works for piano and orchestra – an early work originally written for two pianos (The ‘Paganini’ Variations), and his very last concerto. The works are performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner, described by Gramophone as a veritable ‘Dream Team’ in Vol. 1. They are joined in this recording by Louis Lortie, the award-winning pianist and exclusive Chandos artist.   
 
Lutoslawski composed his Symphonic Variations while he was studying with Witold Maliszewski at the Warsaw Conservatory. When he showed the work to his teacher, he was told in no uncertain terms: ‘For me your work is ugly.’ A rather disheartening response to be sure, but perhaps also proof that here was a work that was well ahead of its time. Today it fits in easily with the European tradition of variation form, and is considered a prime example of the lush, but edgy harmonies of the composer, and of his vivid ear for instrumental colour and virtuosity.
 
Less than three years later, Poland was invaded by Germany, and normal music life disappeared. In its place, musical cafés emerged as places where light music as well as mainstream repertoire was performed. Lutoslawski made his living in these cafés by playing a repertoire of light music, arranged by himself and his piano-duet partner, Andrzej Panufnik. All but one of these works were destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The sole survivor was the Variations on a Theme of Paganini. The version recorded here is Lutoslawski’s orchestration for piano and orchestra, of the original version for two pianos.
 
Also on this album is the Piano Concerto, the last of Lutoslawski’s concertante works, as well as Symphony No. 4, which Lutoslawski composed over four years (1988 – 92), conducting its premiere in Los Angeles, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in 1993, just a year before his death.

The Polish series is supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
 

Reviews

"...A fine choice as soloist Louis Lortie plays the two bittersweet piano scores with enthusiasm and verve. The BBC Symphony Orchestra under conductor Edward Gardner rises splendidly to the challenges of Lutoslawski’s bold writing. It’s a varied synthesis of orchestral textures. Gardner’s control of the diverse contrasts feels authoritative without being inflexible.Beautifully recorded at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall in 2011 this splendidly presented release is kitted out with the usual high quality Chandos booklet notes. It makes a fine introduction to Lutoslawski’s music."
 
Michael Cookson - www.musicweb-international.com - April 2012

              Gramophone Choice – Orchestral
“Throughout, Gardner secures some first-class playing from the BBC SO ... Cordially recommended...”
Andrew Achenbach – Gramophone magazine – April 2012

"...This is a stunner of a disc. The BBC So never sound so comfortable as when they’re tackling the 20th century repertoire, and Edward Gardner’s direction is faultless."
Graham Rickson - theartsdesk.com - 25 February 2012

"...With a spectacularly good Chandos 5.0 SACD recording and the usual high production and presentation values this is a release which followers of Gardner’s Lutoslawski series and fans of good 20th century music should snap up without hesitation. You certainly won’t find anything lacking in any of the performances, and in all cases they occupy the top drawer when it comes to all and any of these pieces..."

Dominy Clements - Musicweb-international.com - 1 March 2012


“...A wonderful disc”
International Piano Quarterly – March/April 2012


                     Performance ****      Recording *****
“...Gardner and the orchestra, with not a weak link in the important solos, give a performance of riveting concentration.”

Martin Cotton – BBC Music magazine – March 2012

“Ed Gardner and the BBC Orchestra obviously found a workable rapport here. They play four modern classics with assurance, virtuosity and, yes, fun. Lutoslawski is one of the most rewarding of 20th-century composers, with a rhythmic and melodic gift which continually surprises. Louis Lorté is a dazzling soloist in the Piano Concerto, while the once-voguish Fourth Symphony is wonderfully well-performed.”
Michael Kennedy – Sunday Telegraph – 8 January 2012

 

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