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Cat. No. CHSA 5108 Price: £11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5108 - Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works, Volume IV
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Available From: 15 February 2013
Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works, Volume IV
This is the fifth and now final volume in our survey of orchestral works by the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski. Gramophone wrote of a previous volume in the series (CHAN 5106) that it ‘offers a broad view of Lutoslawski’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 Lutoslawski’s musical vocabulary and mode of expression’. 
 
Lutoslawski 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. Lutoslawski  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. 
 
Lutoslawski 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, Lutoslawski 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 CHAN 5106 with Paul Watkins).
 
Reviews

“… The BBC is a great orchestra, recorded in superb sound … if you are looking for this piece [Symphony No 1] , it would be hard to top this. The Partita (1988) I an arrangement of the piece for violin and piano, scored with orchestra. The piece is generally devoid of the composer’s famous 60’s avant-gardisms…. Ms Little plays it skilfully and convincingly… The Dance Preludes (1955), for clarinet, percussion, harp, piano and strings, are built on folk materials. The outer dances are affable and the more introspective pieces quiet beautiful. To no one’s surprise, Mr Collins is exemplary…  most listeners would not automatically associate much of this with the experimental language that made this composer famous, but new listeners unfamiliar with or offended by 60s wildness will find all of this stimulating and enjoyable.”

Allen Gimbel – American Record Guide – September/October 2013

“...A fine conclusion to a distinguished series”
 
Dominy Clements – MusicWeb-International.com – April 2013
 

"...Lutoslawski always regarded its [Symphony No 1] brash and brassy energy as positive. Edward Gardner’s effervescent, propulsive reading makes a brilliant case for the symphony, the aggressive swagger always offset by a beguiling splash of colour. Lutoslawski’s gifts as an orchestrator were already fully developed, and the work is a brilliant precursor to the better known Concerto for Orchestra. Among the couplings are the five Dance Preludes in the arrangement for solo clarinet and orchestra. They’re irresistible, folk-influenced miniatures, teeming with invention and wittily delivered by Michael Collins.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."

Graham Rickson - the artsdesk.com - 8 June 2013

 "... Michael Collins is both incisive and poetic in a work whose brevity must be the only reason why it has not established itself in the modern repertoire - though it has been decently served on disc, with this account ranking among the finest... Any doubt as to Tasmin Little’s identification with this music is quickly banished as she responds with some of her most insightful as well as virtuosic playing on disc. The spacious yet immediate sound is on a par with earlier discs in the series..."
Richard Whitehouse - International Record Review - April 2013

                *****
Alessandro Turba - Musica magazine - May 2013

                    Performance ****           Recording ****
 
John Allison – BBC Music magazine – June 2013

“...This is the centenary year for the composer, and it is praiseworthy that Chandos has been a steady champion of Lutoslawski, whose works are a landmark of 20th century composition. This disc is a rich and varied collection taken from 3 different periods of the composer’s life, and it is recommended both for the performance and the sonics.”  ****
Mel Martin – Audiophile Audition.com – 8 May 2013

Gramophone Choice

“...Highly recommended.”

Guy Rickards – Gramophone magazine – May 2013

"... this fifth and final Lutoslawski volume rounds out the series in great style. The composer’s Symphony No. 1 (composed between 1941 and 1947) is a lively and energetic piece in the composer’s most listener-friendly mode. The selections here supply a rounded portrait of the composer – and even if (frankly) some of the modish pieces in this survey may languish unplayed, the wealth of striking and individual music decisively outweighs the more cryptic pieces. The surround sound, as ever with Chandos, is superb."
 
Barry Forshaw - ClassicalCDChoice.co.uk - 31 March 2013

“...The latest in the Chandos orchestral series featuring the BBC Symphony under Edward Gardner comprises two substantial works from the Stalinist era and two late works written for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter – all radiating the composer’s characteristic poise. The CD opens with the robust and purposeful First Symphony, well worth hearing in this vibrant reading. Then come Partita and Chain 2, two 1980s violin concertos notable for their expressive intensity, a quality matched by Tasmin Little’s performances ...” ****
 
Andrew Clark – The Financial Times – 16-17 March 2013

"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."
Fiona Maddocks - The Observer - 17 March 2013


 

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