> LUTOSLAWSKI Orchestral works Vol 7 NAXOS 8.555270 [TB]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994)

Orchestral Works, Volume 7
Three Postludes
Preludes and Fugues for 13 solo strings
Mini Overture
Fanfare for Louisville
Fanfare for CUBE
Prelude for G.S.M.D.
Fanfare for the University of Lancaster
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Antoni Wit
Rec 6 September 1996 (Postlude No. 1), 16-17 May 2000 (Postludes Nos. 2 &3, plus shorter items), 23rd July 2000 (Preludes & Fugue), Fitelberg Concert Hall, Katowice
NAXOS 8.555270 [59.10]


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Lutoslawski was one of the most important composers of the second half of the 20th century. His early works were relatively conservative in style, often making use of folk material. However, following the inauguration, in 1956, of the Warsaw Autumn Festival, one of the world's leading festivals of contemporary music, he embarked upon a new phase in his artistic development, since Poland was now making renewed contact with the prominent forces of the musical life of the West.

Lutoslawski gained an international reputation, as a distinctly modernist voice with a clearly individual personality. For more than thirty years from that time, he produced a succession of masterpieces for the world's leading soloists and orchestras.

This disc is Volume 7 in Naxos's continuing series of the complete orchestral music, which is itself a reflection of the composer's achievement. Antoni Wit and his talented orchestra (or, to be more accurate, the ensembles drawn from the orchestra) give good accounts of this challenging and rewarding music. The opening group, the Three Postludes, makes a particularly compelling impression, with real impact from the recording, despite the gap between the recording sessions. The orchestral textures and combinations are particularly interesting, and the three pieces have both individuality and a convincing sweep of inspiration. At this price the disc is worth investigating for these pieces alone.

The best known music recorded here is the Preludes and Fugues for 13 solo strings. Again the inspiration is of the highest order, the performance thoroughly idiomatic. A typical feature of this music is Lutoslawski's employment of 'chance elements' under the control of the wider context of the piece; therefore no two performances will be quite the same. The excellent booklet notes by Richard Whitehouse point out that this is the longest of the composer's mature compositions, but it is of course made up of smaller constituent parts which operate together.

The disc is completed by a sequence of shorter pieces, some of them very short indeed. For example, the Fanfare for CUBE first performed by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble at the 1982 Lucerne Festival in 1982, plays for 28 seconds. But it is still an imaginatively contrived piece, the work of a major composer.

Lutoslawski is well served here. These performances all contribute to a highly successful combination, in thoroughly acceptable sound , with talented musicians performing under a gifted conductor.

Terry Barfoot

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