One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
Google seem to have closed down local search engines. You can use this FreeFind engine but it is not so comprehensive
You can go to Google itself and enter the search term followed by the search term.


International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati




simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin

Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive

Cantatas for Soprano


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994)
Works for Solo Piano
Sonata (1934) [29:10]
Twelve Folk Melodies (1945) [11:15]
Bucolics (1952) [5:54]
Two Studies (1941) [5:22]
Three Pieces for Young People (1953) [5:25]
Invention (1968) [0:56]
Véronique Briel (piano)
rec. 2013, Mazowsze Ensemble Conference Center, Otrebusy, Poland
DUX 0967 [58:01]

What a remarkable disc. This collection of Lutosławski’s solo piano music is remarkable, first, because there is no other recording like it. Certain of his solo piano pieces have appeared on recitals elsewhere. The half-hour-long piano sonata is on a Telarc disc by pianist Gloria Cheng. Incredibly, after several site searches I am unable to find a single MusicWeb International mention of Witold Lutosławski’s solo piano repertoire.

So Véronique Briel appears to have achieved a first. Let’s talk about the music here, because it’s all extremely good and the album makes me feel lucky to be a critic. The early Piano Sonata — from his student years — is, in fact, fully half of the composer’s output for the instrument, if you’re measuring by size. Its opening pages bear a striking resemblance to Ravel’s Sonatine, but with darker colors, and a less innocent frame of mind. Debussy preludes also lurk in the list of influences. Lutosławski begins the sonata so prettily that he can gradually ratchet up the dissonance level without seeming to write unnaturally.

The Sonata’s restless adagio builds to a yearning theme of great emotion, around 1:30. Lutosławski’s finale, which begins just as slowly, soon powers into a more energetic mode which jettisons all the last echoes of the French impressionists. It’s rare and interesting to hear a work outgrow its own influences. Consider it the young composer, in dialogue with himself, deciding who he will be.

By 1941, Lutosławski’s musical language had already advanced considerably, toward the style you hear in his First Symphony and Concerto for Orchestra. Only one minute of this disc was composed after those works were both finished. Both of the Two Studies are noteworthy miniatures, and — aside from the sonata — are the only serious piano pieces the adult Lutosławski wrote for adult performers. The first opens with a dramatic flourish similar to that of Chopin’s Etude Op. 10 No. 1, before transforming into a toccata-like blitz of chromatic writing. The second is only slightly less energetic, with frequent obsessive tics, when Lutosławski repeats a phrase over and over until getting it “right.” The booklet mentions Hindemith for a comparison; you might want to add Stravinsky.

The remainder is for young pianists, but if I could play them they’d be in my repertoire. Twelve Folk Melodies is what it says on the tin but you shouldn’t expect simple melodies in the style of Grieg or Dvorak. They have more in common with the melodies in Lutosławski’s early orchestral music or the material unearthed by Szymanowski and Bartók. Various guitar duos and quartets have arranged some of the tunes for their own repertoires. The Bucolics are known — if you know them — in a version for viola and piano, and are also heartily folk-music-inspired.

I’m rather taken with Three Pieces for Young People, particularly the longest of the three, which starts as a sort of alternate-universe Brahms Lullaby, with a simple, mournful accompaniment and an ambiguous ending.

Recorded sound is very good, pretty typical for a new piano release. There’s a useful booklet essay. Véronique Briel deserves a huge amount of credit for learning and playing this repertoire, and for doing it extraordinarily well. I don’t have other recordings to compare, but Briel plays a large role in helping to convince me of the music’s quality.

The only reason I would speak against this disc is if you, for some reason, only enjoy Lutosławski’s late-period aleatoric music. He stopped writing for solo piano long before reaching that stage. That said, if you have an appetite for 20th-century piano music, of all kinds, you need to hear this. From the youthful first pages of the sonata through the tiny, strange Invention from 1968, Lutosławski’s solo piano music is extremely good, and deserves to enter both the repertoire and your listening library.

Another survey of this under-recorded music is due to be released in a few months, by pianist Corinna Simon. The more the merrier.

Brian Reinhart



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger