Krystian Zimerman / Simon Rattle / Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Lutosławski: Piano Concerto; Symphony No. 2

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It's perhaps difficult to speak of a state-of-the-art recording of the music of Witold Lutoslawski, given the influence exerted on this Polish composer by the aleatoric procedures of the American John Cage, but this Deutsche Grammophon release might qualify. The Piano Concerto of 1988 is performed by the player for whom it was written, Krystian Zimerman, and he and conductor Simon Rattle have the well-oiled quality necessary to bring out the shifts in the piano-orchestra relationship over the course of the work's four movements and the neat combination of Lutoslawski's modernist idiom with his earlier Bartók-influenced style. And you get a good representation of the phases of Lutoslawski's career, missing only that early phase: the Symphony No. 2 is a prime example of his aleatoric style (you might expect it to cause problems for Rattle and the tradition-bound Berlin Philharmonic, but their realization seems confident and fresh), while the Piano Concerto exemplifies the more accessible late Lutoslawski style. Beautifully recorded, this is a place where those curious about Lutoslawski can begin with confidence.

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