One of the most grown-up review sites around

55,946 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

3 for 2 Offer

All Forgotten Records Reviews


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets
All Foghorn Reviews

Puertas de Madrid
All EMEC reviews
All EMEC reviews

All Reference Recordings

Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries
All Divine Art Reviews

Debussy Complete Preludes



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


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994)
Symphony No. 3 (1983) [32:56]
Symphony No. 2 (1967) [28:27]
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu
rec. 2018, Helsinki Music Centre
ONDINE ODE1332-5 SACD [61:40]

Lutosławski’s symphonies seem to have become mainstream repertoire, at least as far as recordings are concerned. They certainly deserve to. In additions to recordings of the first three under the composer himself – and he was no mean conductor of his own music – there have been several others, including a luxuriously produced series from Poland and others by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Edward Gardner. Now here we have Hannu Lintu’s second disc of the symphonies, completing the cycle which he began with the first and fourth (review). On the disc the third symphony precedes the second, but I shall consider them in their chronological order.

In the second symphony Lutosławski deploys his technique of aleatory counterpoint on a large scale. This idiom was suggested to him by hearing a radio broadcast of John Cage’s Concert for piano and orchestra (not Cage’s piano concerto, as the booklet states). In this work the players construct their parts from materials which Cage provided, and there is considerable freedom for the performers in how to combine them. Lutosławski took from this only the idea of writing lines which need not be exactly synchronised, but the conductor indicates when to start or stop any particular passage. He also used traditionally synchronised passages as well. He first used this technique in Jeux Vénitiens, which is on Lintu’s other disc, and then in this symphony. It is in two movements, a structure which he increasingly came to favour. The first is marked Hésitant, and in it we hear sketches and fragments which arouse a tension which is dispelled in the second movement, Direct. I used to think this more an experimental than a successful work but Lintu’s performance here really raised my opinion of it almost to the level of the last two symphonies.

The third symphony is generally considered Lutosławski’s masterpiece (though I think the fourth is as fine). Here he is supremely in control of his technique. Although the work plays continuously, in effect there is a similar underlying two-part structure as in the previous symphony. The music moves forward in a series of waves, within which there is a series of questions and answers between different orchestral groupings. There is a motto, of four loud repeated notes, which helps to hold the work together. This description may be rather dry but the work itself is thrilling. It is also not hard to follow. It was an immediate success and has been played all over the place.

Lintu’s performances are superb. There is a good deal of fast and intricate writing for the woodwind and strings and this is realized with confidence and a verve which goes beyond previous performances I have heard. The brass can menace and roar as required and the tuned percussion adds vivid colour. This is a SACD but I was listening in ordinary two-channel stereo, on which the balance sounded fine and the composer’s glittering textures came over well. The booklet is helpful, apart from that one slip about the Cage work, and altogether this is a quality production.

As far as competition is concerned, the composer’s own performances, though decent, have been excelled by subsequent conductors. For some time Salonen’s integral set was the one to go for, but this is now only available as a download. Edward Gardner’s versions have been well received, but on the companion disc Richard Hanlon thought him outclassed by Lintu. I hope he gives us more Lutoslawski. Strongly recommended.

Stephen Barber

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

All Chandos reviews

All Hyperion reviews

All Foghorn reviews

All Troubadisc reviews

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

All Lyrita Reviews


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month




Symphonic Works

Frederico Mompou

Extraordinary Music for Organ