Lutoslawski: Symphony No. 1; Chantefleurs et Chantefables; Silesian Triptych; Jeux vénetiens; Positude I

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COMPOSERS: Lutoslawski
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Chantefleurs et Chantefables; Silesian Triptych; Jeux vénetiens; Positude I
PERFORMER: Olga Pasiecznik (soprano); Polish National RSO/Antoni Wit
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554283
This series of Witold Lutoslawski’s orchestral music is turning out to be one of the brightest corners of the Naxos catalogue. And Volume 6 is especially valuable because it contains music from almost every phase of his career. Here is the First Symphony of 1947, clearly influenced by Bart¢k and Roussel, but still revealing a strong, distinctive voice. Here is the Silesian Triptych of 1951, a charming example of the folk-based pieces which were Lutoslawski’s bread-and-butter in the dark days of Stalinist repression. Here, unfortunately not back to back, are the first of the Postludes with which he thought he was bidding farewell to the orchestra in 1960, and the Jeux vÇnitiens in which, the following year, he devised a radically new approach to orchestral texture which was to stand him in good stead for the rest of his life. And here is the relaxed and delightful Chantefleurs et chantefables, a cycle of nine settings of Robert Desnos’s surrealist poems about the natural world, which was first performed in 1991, only three years before the composer’s death.

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As before, Antoni Wit and his Katowice forces perform the music of their compatriot with clarity and brilliance; and Olga Pasiecznik is an excellent soloist in both Polish and French. The recording is fine, although the sound in the lightly scored Chantefleurs could have been more intimate; the presentation is helpful. Highly recommended, both to Lutoslawski enthusiasts and as an introduction to the music of one of the master-composers of our time. Anthony Burton