Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4

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COMPOSERS: Lutoslawski
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Partita for Violin and Orchestra; Chain 2; Dance Preludes
PERFORMER: Michael Collins (clarinet), Tasmin Little (violin); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner


At the centre of this latest Lutosawski release from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner are two of the composer’s mature masterpieces: Partita and Chain 2. Both works were close to Lutosawski’s heart and featured in the last concert he ever conducted. Dating from the mid-to-late 1980s, they represent some of the most lucid examples of Lutosawski’s fascination with mixing strictly notated sounds with more aleatoric (chance) music, and have all the dramatic tension a juxtaposition of these strands implies. The soloist here is Tasmin Little, who finds the soft-edged energy of the Partita and traces a broad melodic arc in its central Largo. All the performers show their awareness of the work’s indebtedness to Baroque gesture. Chain 2, one of Lutosawski’s series of works developed through the overlapping of different ideas, receives an equally fascinating performance.

But perhaps the most valuable aspects of this disc are the two early, less frequently heard works. The First Symphony, composed during World War II, is hardly the ‘cheerful’ piece so characterised by Lutosawski, but its Bartókian bite is powerful in the impressive performance Gardner draws here. The attractive Dance Preludes, which marked Lutosawski’s ‘farewell to folklore’, are brilliantly crafted.


John Allison