Sunday, July 16, 2017

Witold Lutosławski - Orchestral Works Vol. 1 (Edward Gardner)


Composer: Witold Lutosławski
  • (01-07) Symphony No. 3
  • (08) Chain 3
  • (09-12) Concerto for Orchestra

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Edward Gardner, conductor

Date: 2010
Label: Chandos



PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: *****

The BBC SO had a long association with Lutosawski, but made only a few commercial recordings with him as conductor. One of them was Chain 3, which they revisit here, with sound clearer than the 20-year-old DG version with the composer in charge, though there’s little to choose between them as performances.

The limited aleatoric techniques mean that no two readings are ever going to be identical, but, in the precisely notated sections, Edward Gardner makes the most of the taut rhythmic energy in the music.

This energy characterises the Third Symphony, with its motif of four repeated notes, though the conductor also has the task of pacing the more freely written sections so that tension is maintained.

There’s a better sense of flow here than Esa-Pekka Salonen achieved in his Los Angeles recording, and a more scrupulous observation of dynamics and balance, reflected in the wide range of the recording, even if some of the high string writing doesn’t come across as cleanly.

The second half of the Symphony, where the lyrical and dramatic come together, has a certainty which almost matches Barenboim’s live Chicago version.

It’s in the Concerto for Orchestra, the culminating work of Lutosawski’s first nationalist period, that this disc really comes up trumps, with a pulse that’s never allowed to flag, even in the more contemplative music. And all the colours of this showpiece are brightly painted, with a virtuosity which is never empty, but always has direction and purpose, and a sense of real enjoyment.

-- Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:
MusicWeb International  RECORDING OF THE MONTH


Witold Lutosławski (25 January 1913 – 7 February 1994) was a Polish composer and orchestral conductor. He was one of the major European composers of the 20th century, and one of the preeminent Polish musicians during his last three decades. He earned many international awards and prizes. His compositions (of which he was a notable conductor) include four symphonies, a Concerto for Orchestra, a string quartet, instrumental works, concertos, and orchestral song cycles. Lutosławski's music incorporates his own methods of building harmonies and the use of aleatoric processes.


Edward Gardner (born 22 November 1974 in Gloucester) is an English conductor. He attended University of Cambridge as a music student, and was a choral scholar in King's College Choir. He also studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where his teachers included Colin Metters. He was music director of English National Opera (2006-2015), principal guest conductor of  the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (2011-2016). He is currently principal conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Gardner has conducted several recordings for EMI Classics and Chandos. Records.


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