Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra perform Lutosławski & Brahms

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COMPOSERS: Witold Lutosławski; Johannes Brahms
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Lutosławski • Brahms
WORKS: Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra; Brahms: Piano Quartet in G minor (orch. Schoenberg)
PERFORMER: Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra/ Miguel Harth-Bedoya
CATALOGUE NO: Harmonia Mundi HMU 807668

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Lutosawski’s Concerto for Orchestra was composed using a Bartókian model and incorporating folk music in order to satisfy the authorities in communist Poland at a time (1954) when the doctrine of socialist realism was still in place. But Lutosawski preserved his integrity in a piece that also points towards some of his later stylistic traits, and in this newest version of an often-recorded work Miguel Harth-Bedoya steers a skilful line in reconciling these various elements. The Peruvian conductor, long-standing music director of the Fort Worth Symphony, also almost manages to make a virtue of the orchestra’s slightly raw tone, but ultimately this is a score that cries out for a better-oiled orchestral machine.

The same is true – but perhaps felt more acutely – of their performance of Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G minor in its celebrated orchestration by Schoenberg. Though an odd bedfellow for the Lutosawski, it is also really a great concerto for orchestra – the battery of percussion in the two final movements counts against it being thought of as Brahms’s Fifth – and another recording ought to be welcome. Schoenberg’s warm feelings about the piece certainly come across here, yet otherwise this is a somewhat scrappy, undernourished performance, which Harth-Bedoya pulls around in an exaggerated attempt at gipsy-ness. It was probably enjoyable live in Fort Worth’s splendid Bass Performance Hall and, while anyone new to the piece should look elsewhere, this CD will be a welcome souvenir for friends of the orchestra.

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John Allison