Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Falckenhagen Flute Concertos

new releases


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Gunnar Kristinsson Moonbow

Mozart and Contemporaries


La clarinette Parisienne


Serenade - Septet

Complete Organ Works


Septem Dies



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994)
Orchestral Works
Symphonic Variations (1938) [8:52]
Symphony No.1 (1947) [24:43]
Funeral Music (1958) [13:30]
Symphony No.2 (1966-68) [31:22]
Concerto for Orchestra (1953) [28:27]
Jeux Vénitiens (1961) [12:58]
Livre pour Orchestre (1968) [21:12]
Mi-parti (1976) [14:35]
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra/Witold Lutoslawski
rec. 24-28 May, 21-25 July 1976, 13-16 December 1977, Studio of Polish Radio and TV, Katowice, Poland. Stereo. ADD
EMI CLASSICS 9072262 [78:39 + 77:32]

Experience Classicsonline

Lutoslawski's instrument was the piano, but his mastery of orchestration was second to none. The diversity of the works on these two discs is impressive. It ranges from the neo-classicism (or at least neo-Stravinskyism) of the Symphonic Variations (1938), through the socialist realism of the First Symphony (1947), to the Modernist works of the late 1950s and 1960. The common thread that runs through everything is the sheer dexterity of the composer in his use of the orchestra. Even in the earlier works, where stylistic constraints keep many aspects of the music locked in a kind of mythical 19th century, the use of the orchestra is always right up to the minute. And when he starts using his 'limited aleatory' techniques in works such as Jeux Vénitiens, these too seem perfectly matched to the instrumentation, as if the loosening of synchronisation has had the effect of liberating the individual instruments.

It is this later music that is most interesting; at least to me. The Symphonic Variations, First Symphony and Concerto for Orchestra feel like a grounding in the composer's past before the real business begins, starting with the incomparable Funeral Music of 1958 and on to the Second Symphony of 1966-8, which is perhaps his greatest work. That said, the composer's most popular, or at least most performed, orchestral work, is his Concerto for Orchestra, so perhaps these earlier pieces do have an audience after all.

The format of the two discs is to begin with earlier works in both cases before moving on to the later material, so if you want to know what makes Lutoslawski distinctive, you'd probably be better off starting the first disc on track 6 (Funeral Music) and the second on track 4 (Jeux Vénitiens).

The performances are as good as any, which, considering how much interest there has been in Lutoslawski from recording companies in the years since his death, is no mean feat. The composer leads the orchestra with a steady hand. Little of this music requires overt interpretation; the scores (even the aleatory ones) give enough detail that the composer's intentions can be followed precisely at the podium. Despite a certain Impressionism that informs much of the music, detail matters, and Lutoslawski makes a point of bringing out the significant orchestral effects. He is fond of large percussion sections and rasping brass, but is also able to find the ideal balance between these potentially disrupting forces and the strings and woodwind.

Great as these recordings are, it is worth bearing in mind what they are not. One thing this release certainly is not is the complete orchestral music of Witold Lutoslawski. Naxos are currently undertaking such a project and it has already reached Vol.7. The composer had almost twenty years of creative activity ahead of him when he conducted these sessions in 1976/77. Of the later orchestral scores, the three Chain works and the Third Symphony stand out.

Something else that this is not is new. The two discs were originally released separately in the late 1970s. They were then re-mastered and re-released in 1994. These were then reissued as a two disc box on the EMI Double Forte label in 2000, and have now reappeared in this 20th Century Classics series. This is still the 1994 re-master, and good as it is, if you've heard these discs before, don't expect anything new from this release.

That said, the sound quality is not at all bad. EMI sent their own engineers to Poland for the sessions. They weren't recording in digital by that stage, but the results are still convincing. The worst that can be said is that the sound often seems slightly muffled and the back of the orchestra, particularly the percussion, seems strangely distant. The slightly dated sound is what distinguishes these recordings from the more high-tech ones that have appeared in recent years. From an interpretive point of view, it is nice of have the composer at the podium, but every conductor who has recorded this music since has heard these discs, and none has strayed significantly from the model presented. An important historical document then, but an enjoyable listen too.

Gavin Dixon

see also review by John Phillips of previous (Double Forte) release
























































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.