Witold Lutosławski Vol. 2


In stock

Cat. No. CDB052
Music disc: SACD


Witold Lutosławski

Ewa Pobłocka – piano
Robert Cohen – cello
Orchestra Sinfonia Varsovia
Jerzy Maksymiuk – conductor

Disc content:

  1. Concerto for cello and orchestra – 26'17″

Concerto for piano and orchestra

  1. – 1. – 5'30″
  2. – 2. – 4'56″
  3. – 3. – 6'26″
  4. – 4. – 7'35″
  1. Symphony No 4 – 21'52″

Total time – 72'39″


© ℗ 2012 Bearton

In stock

SKU: CDB052E Categories: , ,


Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, composed in 1987 and finished on 20 January 1988, was written for Krystian Zimerman by order of the Salzburg Music Festival. The piece was played for the first time by Krystian Zimerman and Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer at the Kleines Festspielhaus in Salzburg on 19 August 1988. The Polish premiere took place at the Warsaw Autumn Festival the same year.

The idea of composing a piano concerto goes back to the 1930’s and the 1940’s again. It was fulfilled, however, only in the last, especially fruitful period of Lutosławski’s work, which was abundant in the highest class pieces. In the 1980’s, Lutosławski’s composing techniques, although still changing and transforming, became – in his own opinion – worthy enough for the composer to reach out to the genre that had bothered him for years. That was exclusively a musical issue. Only when my language started to be complete and rich, I could allow myself to attack the piano – said the composer.

The Concerto has four parts played attacca, although each of them has its clear conclusion. The first part makes references to a classical thematic dualism, which does not mean that it was effected by any kind of formal literalness. Each of the stages that can be recognized as traditional themes is internally subdivided. The second part was called moto perpetuo by the composer. It is a type of a bravura scherzo with a virtuoso show-off by the soloist. In the third part, we can identify the form of a song {ABA}, with an initial recitativo of the solo piano, followed by a cantilena largo theme, the song with a juxtaposition of a singing piano, in view of the intense or even dramatic orchestra. Owing to its structure, the fourth part- as the composer states – constitutes an allusion to the Baroque form of ciaccona. Its theme (always played by the orchestra) is made of short notes separated by pauses, and not by accords, as it is found in a traditional ciaccona. That theme, repeated many times, presents only one layer of the musical discourse […].

The analogy with a traditional form of the concerto, applied above, although being simplified, still seems to be legitimate. In fact, Lutosławski’s Piano Concerto expresses that musical tradition in its peculiar manner. Being aware that there was no place to revolutionize the concerto at the end of the 20th century, Lutosławski brought back a sense of existence to that genre, reaching out to… Chopin for inspiration. Chopin played an extremely important role in my life […] – said the composer – No surprise that it has been my desire […] to consume him and digest a bit by my musical language […] And such echoes of Chopin one can find exactly in the Piano Concerto […]. I wanted to make references to Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms (in that piece). Although the Baroque trace expands the time prospect, owing to reaching out to the ciaccona, Lutosławski rather continues Romanticism, led by Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms, and he equally expands the 20th century tradition, with Debussy, Ravel, Bartók, Prokofiev, and Messiaen.

Symphony No. 4 was ordered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and performed for the first time by that Orchestra, conducted by the composer, on 5 February 1993.

In the first minutes of the piece, the listener who even superficially knows Lutosławski’s works can be surprised by the melodiousness and cantilena phrases, constituting truly essential features of the piece. Such melodious phrases do not occur in the other works by the composer and the episode which starts the Symphony, made of a dozen of beats, deserves its place in the history of music as a symbol of unique melodious beauty. The expression of that part by a clarinet accompanied by a string quintet con sordino and a harp is projected on the whole piece. That episode is emphasized by the type of harmonics, with emancipation of the consonance and third, and it is also present in other parts of the piece which causes more frequent tonal associations here than in any other works by the composer. Although the episode will not avoid tensions resulting from the dominant-tonic consequences, still those do not justify qualification of Symphony No. 4 as a tonal piece.

The piece is composed of two parts: after the introduction, an expanded allegro is developing. In that part, in which the segment marked in sheet music as cantando can be assigned with the role of the second theme group, from the viewpoint of symphonic tradition. What deserves special attention here is the expressive nature of the first part, composed of the sequences of conducted sections ending in aleatoric ones.

In his Symphony No. 4, Lutosławski does not resign of anything that used to build his symphonic idiom, or the chain technique, or the opposition of conducted music with non-conducted one, or the idea of dual form. However, the world of recent Lutosławski from Symphony No. 4 is reaching out to the European musical tradition with larger openness than ever before. In his case, by assimilating that tradition, the composer has not lost his sovereignty and rather brought back the sense of synthesis, which has frequently been abused.

Marek Wieroński

Additional information

Weight 115 g



Go to Top