LutosŁawski: Concerto for Orchestra

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COMPOSERS: A,Lutoslawski,Szymanowski,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: BR Klassik
WORKS: LutosŁawski: Concerto for Orchestra; Szymanowski: Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (The Song of the Night) Tchaikovsky, A: Symphony No. 4 for Orchestra and Choir, Op. 78
PERFORMER: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra & Choir/Mariss Jansons
CATALOGUE NO: 900107

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As chief of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons has made it his mission to broaden Munich’s experience of East European music. All three performances here were recorded live in 2008 and ’09, and Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra lives up to its title in a performance where every musician indeed plays like a soloist. This may not be the most elemental interpretation of the composer’s best-known work – one that cleverly uses Polish folk music to circumvent the strictures of 1950s Socialist Realism – but its energy is felt from the start. A cultivated orchestra and witty conductor bring fairy lightness to the central Scherzo, yet they also summon up power in the virtuosic finale.

Making a mysterious impact immediately, but saving the best for the languid dances of the middle movement, this performance of Szymanowski’s Third Symphony is among the most sensuous on disc. The tenor soloist Rafał Bartmin´ski has ideal sweetness and heft, and the chorus contributes well in this symphonic cantata inspired by the poetry of Rumi. Texts are omitted.

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Words are not required for Symphony No. 4 for orchestra and choir by Alexander Tchaikovsky (no relation, but good for sales) in which a wordless chorus cushions the eventual musings of a solo viola. Composed for Yuri Bashmet in 2008, the music is intended to evoke ‘war and peace’, which it does. It also evokes watered-down R Strauss and Stravinsky, diluting the earlier impact of this disc. John Allison