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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Witold Lutosławski - Vocal Works (Edward Gardner)


Composer: Witold Lutosławski
  • (01-03) Tryptyk śląski (Silesian Triptych)
  • (04) Lacrimosa
  • (05-08) Paroles tissées
  • (09) Śpijże, śpij ('Sleep, sleep) (No. 3 from four Children's Songs)
  • (10-12) Les Espaces du sommeil
  • (13-21) Chantefleurs et Chantefables

Lucy Crowe, soprano (1-4, 9, 13-21)
Toby Spence, tenor (5-8)
Christopher Purves, baritone (10-12)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Edward Gardner, conductor

Date: 2011
Label: Chandos



Volume 2 in Edward Gardner’s Lutosławski series for Chandos brings us six vocal compositions spanning more than five decades, the earliest of which is the hauntingly beautiful Lacrimosa for soprano and orchestra of 1937. Conceived as part of a never-completed Requiem, it might easily have come from a late work by Szymanowski. Lucy Crowe is in ravishing voice and displays comparable charm and composure in both the rustic Silesian Triptych (1951) and miniature ‘Sleep, sleep’ (the third of the four Children’s Songs from 1954). She also shines in Chantefleurs et Chantefables, Lutosławski’s penultimate opus, completed in 1990. These gem-like, at times distinctly Ravelian, settings of nine poems from Robert Desnos’s eponymous collection for children, make an enchantingly varied and witty 20-minute sequence. And Crowe’s immensely personable rendering must be deemed a worthy successor to distinguished versions by Dawn Upshaw, Valdine Anderson and Solveig Kringelborn.

Of course, Desnos’s surrealist texts had previously fired Lutosławski’s imagination in Les espaces du sommeil, an infinitely subtle and endlessly absorbing masterwork written for Fischer-Dieskau in 1975. Baritone Christopher Purves proves a wonderfully secure exponent in a reading which combines tingling atmosphere and arresting drama to consistently riveting effect. As for the sublimely delicate and exquisitely rapt Paroles tissées, tenor Toby Spence acquits himself with enormous credit in what is arguably Lutosławski’s first fully mature canvas, originally fashioned for Peter Pears (who first performed it at the 1965 Aldeburgh Festival). In fact, all three vocal protagonists benefit from the most glowing and refined support imaginable from Gardner and the BBC SO, not to mention the Chandos production team. A terrific CD: roll on the next instalment!

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

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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  2. Hail Mr! thanks for this one... talking about polish music of 20th century, there is a selection of harp concerts performed by Mrs. Anna Sikorzak Olek, let me put one link... do you can find it or know a way?(xcuse me really, here in venezuela the ways to buy anything online are cutted off by the goverment, so cause of this, if you know any way as torrents or site where is hosted will be welcome, and again please forgive this request) http://en.dux.pl/20th-century-polish-harp-concertos-anna-sikorzak-olek.html on advance whatever be the answer, many thanks... Blessings :)

    1. I'm afraid that I can't help you here.
      This album has a curious content. Our of six featured composers, I know only one, Maksymiuk, as a conductor.