Louis Lortie / Edward Gardner

Witold Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2

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AllMusic Review by

The second volume of Witold Lutoslawski's orchestral works on Chandos presents two sets of orchestral variations, a piano concerto and a symphony, composed over a period stretching from 1936 to 1992. This long time frame shows different stylistic and idiomatic changes in Lutoslawski's music, so the Symphonic Variations and the Variations on a Theme of Paganini reveal a recognizably melodic and tonal basis in his early music that most listeners will find easy to comprehend. The later works, perhaps to the contrary, reflect the increasing chromaticism, aleatoric operations, and near-atonality in Lutoslawski's musical language, so the Concerto for piano and orchestra and the Symphony No. 4 are considerably harder for a casual classical listener to appreciate without total immersion in the music's currents. The performances by Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, featuring pianist Louis Lortie in the Piano Concerto and the Paganini Variations, are lively and energetic, and for all the complexity of these works, they demonstrate complete mastery of the details and control over the music's direction. However, the enigmatic expressions of Lutoslawski's music may make this album a tough nut to crack for some, even among experienced listeners, so repeated listening is recommended. The exceptional super audio reproduction is a real aid to enjoying Lutoslawski's orchestration and the playing of the BBC Symphony, so this is a fine entry point for newcomers to this composer.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphonic Variations
1 01:42
2 02:40
3 03:22
4 01:52
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
5 05:41
6 04:41
7 08:13
8 07:51
9 08:52
Symphony No. 4
10 07:08
11 05:04
12 06:12
13 03:04
14 00:55
blue highlight denotes track pick