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Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994)
Overture for Strings (1949) [5.20]
Funeral Music for string orchestra (1958) [13.34]
Jeux Vénitiens (1961) [13.14]
Partita for violin and orchestra (1984-88) [16.03]
Interludium (1989) [6.54]
Krzysztof Jakowicz (violin)
Krystyna Borunczinska (piano)
Sinfonia Varsovia/Wojiech Michniewski
rec. Polish Radio Studio S1, Warsaw, 1991-92. DDD
CD ACCORD ACD 029 [55.39]


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Here we have five Lutosławski chamber works written between 1949 and 1991. As with ACD 015 the disc plays for five minutes short of an hour.

The rarely encountered Overture for string orchestra preceded the First Symphony and Concerto for Orchestra. It is shaped somewhat by the examples of Roussel and Bartók in its darting activity with impudent neo-classical elements.

Why the title Funeral Music? It was to have been written for the tenth anniversary of Bartók's death. It is in four movements, played without pause but tracked individually here. The piece is for string orchestra and presents a very solid and impressively stern tone without being especially funereal. Darting and quick music in the Metamorphoses is not merely athletic but also warm and humane rising to the stabbing cauldron of Apogee which falls away into the Epilogue and silence.

Jeux Vénitiens bears that title only in reference to the fact that it was written for the 1961 Venice Biennale. Its four movements are the pinnacle of Lutosławski's identification with modernity being not only dodecaphonic but also requiring an aleatory element namely that although everything is notated there are points at which the timing of the playing of the lines is left to the individual players. There is a noticeable role for a stormy piano and that same instrument's shuddering shivers end the piece.

The Partita was written for Anne-Sophie Mutter (now Mrs Andre Previn). More than two decades have passed and Lutosławski is now finding a new voice. The piece is in three movements divided by two interludes. It is a work of virtuosity as expected and the quick whirling high cycles of the violin in the first movement leave us in little doubt of its intentions. The 6 minute central largo is an exercise in Bergian romanticism while the presto zips and buzzes with activity.

The Interludium was designed as a 'separator' for Partita from Chaine II or either of these pieces from the orchestral song-cycle Chantefleurs et Chantefables. It is self-effacing - a bearer of minimalist stillness.

The notes are very full and performances are dedicated and extremely well sustained.

Rob Barnett

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Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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Sheva
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