The Pearls of Polish Music - Lutoslawski, Vol. 2
Classical - Orchestral
Lutoslawski: Cello Concerto; Concerto for Piano & Orchestra; Symphony No. 4
Robert Cohen, cello
Ewa Poblocka, piano
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Review by Graham Williams - July 28, 2013
There have been no new recordings on SACD from the excellent Polish label BeArTon for quite some time, so this new release of three works by Witold Lutoslawski - the centenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year - is particularly welcome.
The 'Concerto for Cello and Orchestra' dates from1969-1970 and is one of Lutoslawki's most impassioned and succinct works. Written for and first performed by Mstislav Rostropovich in London in 1970 it is in one single movement though it falls into four distinct sections – not given separate track numbers on this recording. The distinguished British cellist Robert Cohen gives a virtuoso account of this challenging piece and the adversarial nature of the orchestral accompaniment is excellently realised by the incisive orchestral playing that Jerzy Maksymiuk elicits from Orchestra Sinfonia Varsovia.
Lutoslawski's 'Piano Concerto' was written for his Polish compatriot Krystian Zimerman and given its first performance by him at the Salzburg Festival in 1988 with the ORF Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer. The 'Piano Concerto' is in four clearly delineated sections played attacca (though here, unlike the Cello Concerto, they are delineated with track numbers). Ewa Poblocka plays the busy opening two sections with compelling virtuosity while she brings a wonderful range of tonal colour to the introspective third. The orchestra open the final part which is permeated by staccato stabs and an energetic piano part that drives the music to an exciting conclusion.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned Lutoslawski's 4th Symphony, his last major work, and they gave its first performance under the composer's direction in 1993.The opening of this symphony is surely some of the most melodious and romantic music Lutoslawski ever composed, so the episodes of aleatoric and dissonant music that appears throughout the opening movement come as quite a shock. The second movement rises seamlessly from the first - a lyrical theme on the strings contrasting with much faster music. Gradually the music dies away to single spare instrumental lines and pizzicato strings, but the symphony ends with a powerful orchestral climax. Jerzy Maksymiuk and his fine orchestra play this complex music with complete assurance and beauty of tone.
The recordings of all three pieces, made in the Witold Lutoslawski, Concert Studio of Polish Radio in Warsaw, are state-of-the-art in clarity, immediacy and depth of sound.
It is hardly the fault of BeArTon that there are already fine alternative recordings on SACD of all three works featured on this disc though with different couplings. The comprehensive survey of this composer's music on Chandos has reached Volume IV and been very well received, whilst there is another excellent recording of the Cello Concerto played by Christian Poltéra on BIS Dutilleux / Lutoslawski: Cello Concertos - Poltera / van Steen. Nevertheless it would be a great pity if the fine qualities of this superbly performed and recorded disc were to be overshadowed by the intense competition elsewhere.
Most warmly recommended.
Copyright © 2013 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net