Lutoslawski: Concerto for Orchestra; Symphony No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Lutoslawski
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Concerto for Orchestra; Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Chicago SO/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-91711-2 DDD
Lutoslawski’s Third Symphony was premiered by its dedicatees, Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in 1983. In this performance by the same orchestra and Solti’s successor, the players’ virtuosity is finely captured by the expansive, high-definition sound, yet the symphony itself disappoints. Though it accumulates tension in its later stages, much of the work registers as wispy and insubstantial; but as always Lutoslawski’s fastidiously imagined textures are fascinating.

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The much earlier (1954) Concerto for Orchestra has a proven track record as an orchestral showpiece, but is equally a highly cogent creation, making distinctive use of folk-like material over three beautifully crafted movements. It seems bizarre that Lutoslawski himself has apparently little regard for the work today.

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There are recordings of the concerto that offer greater brilliance and a stronger sense of direction, but Barenboim articulates its structure effectively and the detail of the writing is all there. George Hall