LUTOSŁAWSKI Orchestral Works Vol IV

Gardner’s BBC Symphony Lutosławski journey continues

Author: 
Geoffrey Norris

LUTOSŁAWSKI Orchestral Works Vol IV

  • Little Suite
  • Symphony No. 2
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
  • Grave

The light and genial Little Suite of 1950 launches this Lutosławski CD, the character of the piece defined by the Polish folk tunes that are woven into its fabric. While the music bears the hallmarks of the luminous orchestration in Lutosławski’s later works, it is a far cry from the splintered, febrile language of the two-movement Second Symphony, completed in 1967. This programme, embracing also the Cello Concerto (1969-70) and the cello miniature Grave of 1981, therefore offers a broad view of Lutosławski’s creative profile, which the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner fleshes out with playing that is as polished as it is animated and alert to the individuality of Lutosławski’s musical vocabulary and mode of expression.

Gardner keeps the overall structural span of the Symphony in view – although direction and clear goals are not perhaps Lutosławski’s prime concern – while giving close attention to the localised instrumental combinations and conflicts that lend the music its vibrant personality. The fact that Lutosławski continued to ponder new ways of using traditional forms is fundamental to the Cello Concerto, played here by Paul Watkins with panache and with a nicely questioning attitude to the whimsies, cross-fingerboard flourishes and regularly repeated Ds of the four-minute opening section for cello alone. When the trumpets storm in and attempt to call a halt to the cello’s musing, the concerto really takes off, its fluency, liquid lyricism, hesitations and eruptions of agitation voiced here, both by the soloist and by the orchestra, with stimulating spontaneity.

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