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Monday, July 17, 2017

Witold Lutosławski - Orchestral Works Vol. 4 (Tasmin Little; Edward Gardner)


Composer: Witold Lutosławski
  • (01-04) Symphony No. 1
  • (05-09) Partita, for Violin and Orchestra with Piano obbligato
  • (10-13) Chain 2, Dialogue for violin and orchestra
  • (14-18) Preludia taneczne, for Clarinet Solo, Percussion, Harp, Piano, and Strings

Tasmin Little, violin (5-13)
Michael Collins, clarinet (14-18)
Elizabeth Burley, (5-9, 14-18)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Edward Gardner, conductor

Date: 2013
Label: Chandos



Little and Collins join Gardner for fourth Lutosławski disc

Lutosławski’s First Symphony (1941 47) may be stylistically impure, with, for instance, some barely assimilated Roussel in the opening Allegro giusto and Hindemith in the finale, but it is less the product of a compositional ‘cul-de-sac’ than a touchstone for later developments; indeed, the fourth of the invigorating Dance Preludes (1954, orch 1955) and, indirectly, the Partita (1984, orch 1988) feed from it. (There is a deep-seated interconnectedness in this composer’s output, as Adrian Thomas elaborates in his booklet-notes.)

Decades ago, Jan Krenz and the composer both set the First Symphony down with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the latter’s authoritative account being reissued several times. Gardner’s with the BBC Symphony Orchestra is easily the best-played with the most vivid sound (although Salonen has recently recorded it, finally completing his Los Angeles cycle). Gardner’s interpretative decisions vary from Lutosławski’s, swifter in the fast movements, very slow in the Poco adagio (accidentally undermining Thomas’s description that this movement is ‘almost twice as long’ as the first: here it is well over twice). The composer had the balance between them just right but Gardner is very persuasive.

Pairing Lutosławski’s violin concertos Partita and Chain 2 (1984 85) makes sensible programming; what a shame Chandos omits the Interlude (1989), intended by the composer to form a triptych – unlike Naxos, which reversed the order! Little is a match technically for Mutter and the oddly detached Bakowski, and her playing is audibly warmer than either. With superior Chandos sound, this is now the version to have. In the much-recorded Dance Preludes, Collins proves as brilliant a soloist as any, not least Fröst’s account, which I reviewed last year, or Stoltzman, hitherto the market leader. Highly recommended.

-- Guy Rickards, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / RECORDING: ****


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.


Tasmin Little (born 13 May 1965 in London) is an English classical violinist. She is best known and widely acclaimed as a concerto soloist, and also performs as a recitalist and chamber musician. Her first professional performance as a soloist was in 1988 with The Hallé. She made her first appearance at the BBC Proms in 1990, and has appeared regularly since. Little has been an exponent of the works of composer Frederick Delius throughout her career. She has released multiple albums, winning the Critics Award at the Classic Brit Awards in 2011 for her recording of Elgar's Violin Concerto.

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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