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Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994)
Piano Concerto (1988) [24.52]
Symphony No. 3 (1983) [30.28]
Ewa Pobłocka (piano)
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra/Witold Lutosławski
rec. 28-30 Jan 1992, Katowice. DDD
CD ACCORD ACD 015 [55.22]

With Naxos's highly idiomatic Lutosławski series having reached volume 8 and the EMI Polish recordings of the 1970s in and out of availability a disc playing for five minutes short of an hour needs to have something special about it. This does. It contains the composer's last studio recordings made in Poland. Two substantial works are on offer.

The Piano Concerto was also receiving its Polish premiere recording. It is in four segments but played without pause. Helpfully CD Accord have given a track to each segment. It was written for and dedicated to Krystian Zimerman for the 1988 Salzburg Festival. The Symphony is in a single continuous movement allocated a single half hour track.

The Piano Concerto is in four movements played attacca. Pobłocka is a player of considerable repute and has played this work often in Poland. The composer chose her specially for this recording. The recording is a degree cooler and more airy than that for CD Accord's Kord/Szymanowski series and is the better for it. The music is warm and at times of densely active melos. It seems to look to some hybrid between Rachmaninov and Messiaen. It is not difficult and its clarified decorative way can make it sound a little like Sorabji though lithe and not so saturated with profuse decorative lines.

The Third Symphony was written between 1974 and the end of January 1983. The work is in two movements preceded by a short introduction and followed by an epilogue and coda. They are tracked as one here. The work migrates from the buzzing, angry, enigmatic outbursts and the fluttering song of the avant-garde 1970s to the melodic accessibility of his last years. Personally, despite the note-writer’s eloquence I am not at all sure that the result is completely successful.

The Symphony is a Chicago commission and was premiered there with Solti conducting in 1983 at about the same time as the swiftly produced Tippett Fourth Symphony. The Lutosławski was soon played across Europe and North America but not in Poland. The composer had boycotted the Polish state media during the 1970s into 1980s. He received the Solidarity Prize in 1983.

The authoritative and very readable notes are by Charles Bodman Rae. His monograph on the Lutosławski works has been published in English and Polish.

Rob Barnett

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