Lutoslawski: Concerto for Orchestra; Musique funèbre; Mi-parti

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COMPOSERS: Lutoslawski
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Concerto for Orchestra; Musique funèbre; Mi-parti
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Yan Pascal Tortelier
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9421 DDD
The musical journey that took Lutoslawski from the folksy neo-classicism of the Fifties to the highly individual language of his last years is nicely illustrated by the three works here. The Concerto for Orchestra of 1954 is the one of his early works that has most nearly become a mainstream repertoire piece; the Musique funèbre, written in memory of Bartók four years later, was the twelve-note watershed that made his later music possible, while Mi-parti from 1976 is probably the most perfectly formed of his later orchestral scores in its deft interweaving of fully composed sections with passages that rely upon Lutoslawski’s own brand of controlled aleatoricism.

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Tortelier and the BBC Philharmonic do full justice to all three works, though the Concerto, full of vivid melodic writing and bold, primary-colour scoring, ideally needs to be projected with the larger-than-life swagger of a more sumptuous orchestral band. In the string textures of the Musique funèbre the sinewy climaxes carry a real charge, and the epilogue discharges its elegiac responsibilities with great tact. Both these works are already available on disc in several desirable performances; Mi-parti has been recorded less often, and its satisfying proportions and organic sense of melodic growth and decay are beautifully caught here. Andrew Clements