Lindberg: Feria; Corrente II; Arena

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Feria; Corrente II; Arena
PERFORMER: Finnish RSO/Jukka-Pekka Saraste
The fourth volume in Naxos’s Lutosiawski series contains four examples of his mastery of abstract orchestral narrative: the classic Livre from 1968; the powerfully dramatic Cello Concerto from 1970; the eventful Novelette of 1980; and the compact Chain 3 of 1986. The members of the Katowice orchestra are old hands at Lutosrawski’s music, with its free-time passages and wide expressive range; under Antoni Wit, their conductor for the last 15 years, they deliver clear, confident performances. A vivid recording ideally balances impact and detail in the ‘crowd scene’ climaxes. And the young Polish cellist Andrzej Bauer is an outstanding soloist in the Concerto, absolutely secure in tone and technique, and alive to all the work’s rapid switches of mood and manner. The obvious reference points here are Lutosiawski’s own recordings: he was a capable and inspiring interpreter of his own music. As far as the two main works are concerned, his late-Seventies recording of Livre with the same orchestra has an unmatched intensity, with viciously snarling brass and desperately sawing strings; and his 1974 Paris recording of the Concerto has the benefit of the outsize personality of Rostropovich, the work’s dedicatee and first soloist. But both these discs have now been relegated to EMI’s Special Import Service list, to be ordered at a premium. The Naxos will enjoy the company’s usual wide distribution, and it is at bargain price. It deserves both to be snapped up by Lutostawski enthusiasts, and to add considerably to their number. Anthony Burton