Author Topic: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)  (Read 48539 times)

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Offline Maciek

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Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« on: April 11, 2007, 01:44:42 PM »
Witold Lutosławski (Lutoslawski) was, IMO, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, so why wait with restarting his thread on the new forum?

Here are links to some of the old threads:

Lutoslawski

Lutoslawski's Looney Bin

Concerto for piano and orchestra by Witold Lutoslawski

And a very helpful discography site: The Witold Lutoslawski Society (in Polish, but you'll figure it out ;))

So, what are your favorite pieces? Recordings? Anecdotes? Memories?

I must say I adore almost everything from the 2nd Symphony on. However, I'm not particularly fond of the earlier, tonal Lutosławski. I think the feeling that this is not his natural idiom is always there.

The Partita remains my favorite piece (and I do favor the later, orchestrated version... :-[ though I own the sheet music to the vn+pf version and think the writing is absolutely brilliant; just that I find the later version even better) - played either by Krzysztof Bąkowski (my first choice, my favorite violinist for contemporary music) or Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Among my very favorites are also Paroles tisées, Interlude (I know it's just a trifle but I find it spellbinding) and Mi-parti (I have the score, it's an amazing piece!). I also love the Trois poemes d'Henri Michaux, the Cello Concerto, Jeux Venetiens, Preludes and Fugue, Les espaces du sommeil. I love Symphonies nos 2-4, especially 3 and 4. Though I've learned to appreciate no. 2 thanks to the Kofman CPO recording (thank you, Edward, for recommending it in several places on the previous forum :)). And I also think his Paganini Variations (both versions - the one for two pianos and the one for piano and orchestra) are absolutely brilliant, one of the best pieces written around that theme ever (again, I have the score, and the simplicity of the writing coupled with that amazing energy - it's just stunning!!!).

Livre pour orchestre, even though I have the score, never really convinced me entirely. Maybe I still haven't heard the right recording? I'm not completely mad about the Piano Concerto, Funeral Music, or the String Quartet either, though I do like them.

An interesting piece that doesn't get played very often (heard it for the first time a couple of months ago) is the Piano Sonata (1934) - published for the first time fairly recently by PWM (gotta get that - doesn't sound as hellishly difficult as the studies). It's quite an early piece, quite surprising - very romantic!

Of his solo piano works there's also a very short Invention (1968) that I adore (don't know any recordings but it's very easy to play)!

Please do join in! 8) There are still quite a few works in the catalogue worth mentioning. :)

Maciek

Offline Catison

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2007, 02:08:03 PM »
I recently bought all the Naxos discs, but I haven't made my way through them all yet.  But last night I find myself listening to his Symphony No. 4 (on CPO), and I was completely blown away.  It was much better music that I had remembered.  It will be fun getting to know it.

My favorite piece right now, though, is his Concerto for Orchestra.  There is a section in the Theme and Variation movement which I always love hearing.  The rest is great too.
-Brett

Offline Maciek

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2007, 02:19:38 PM »
I love the 4th! I couldn't make up my mind when writing this post whether to single it out. My heart says I prefer no. 4 but since I know no. 3 much longer and it was one of the first Lutoslawski pieces I ever appreciated, my conscience kept telling me it would be rude to shun it. ;D

Two or three years ago I heard no. 4 performed live in such an astoundingly beautiful, melodious way! It made me finally understand what Lutoslawski meant when he said he was trying to discover for contemporary music a new way of conveying melody. Unfortunately, I've lost the program and can't for the life of me remember who the performers were... :-[

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Offline edward

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2007, 05:06:01 PM »
Probably my favourite of all is the Cello Concerto. I've really grown to love the Naxos recording of it, enjoying it as much as the more refined Rostropovich (which, though, can't quite match the sheer ferocity of the later version). I think I have five recordings of this piece, and it seems to merit that many.

Also very much liked: the 3rd symphony, Livre, Mi-Parti, Les Espaces de sommeil, the Concerto for Orchestra and that most neglected and underrated of Lutoslawski's great masterpieces, the Five Songs.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline Earthlight

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2007, 06:02:52 PM »
Probably my favourite of all is the Cello Concerto. I've really grown to love the Naxos recording of it, enjoying it as much as the more refined Rostropovich (which, though, can't quite match the sheer ferocity of the later version).

I just listened to it for the first time, via the wonders of the Naxos subscription service. I'm not sure if "like" and "dislike" are appropriate reaction categories, but I was utterly transfixed. The odd thing is that when I went back and listened to parts of it again, I still had no idea how he got from one point to another, but it all made sense nonetheless.

"Ferocity" is a good word. If I were ever to hear a more committed rendition of the Cello Concerto than what Bauer and Wit have come up with here, I'm not sure I could take it.

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2007, 06:28:35 PM »
Chain 3 is probably my favorite Luto work at the moment.

Danny

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2007, 10:22:18 PM »
Like Schoenberg, it took a while to digest his works and style but now I think his whole catalogue is worth hearing. :D

Especially love Symphony No. 3 and the Concerto for Orchestra.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2007, 10:28:18 PM »
Over the years, my list of Luto favorites has remained pretty consistent:

Symphonies 3 & 4
Cello & Piano Ctos.
Concerto for Orchestra
String Quartet

But really, the guy was amazingly consistent, quality-wise, almost like Brahms. There are very few duds in his output (I would count the 2nd Symphony as one), and one can really dive in almost anywhere and find gold.
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

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Offline Maciek

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2007, 11:49:48 PM »
But really, the guy was amazingly consistent, quality-wise, almost like Brahms.

Love that comparison! Why didn't I think of it first?... :'( No, seriously, I really think you have something there - they would seem to be kindred souls, musically. There's something very similar in their type of sensitivity - the sort of emotions, controlled and yet raging most of the time... :o

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There are very few duds in his output (I would count the 2nd Symphony as one)

Have you tried the Kofman recording on CPO?

Quote
one can really dive in almost anywhere and find gold.

Paweł Szymański said something similar after Lutosławski's death: that every note he ever wrote has the worth of gold.

Maciek

Offline Maciek

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2007, 11:53:20 PM »
that most neglected and underrated of Lutoslawski's great masterpieces, the Five Songs.

Edward, do you mean the ones to the words by Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna (Illakowiczowna)? I have them but not in the Naxos recording. I'm afraid I'm not particularly fond of the poet and that spoils it for me completely - I find the words irritating. :-\ Has someone recorded a translated version? Chinese would be good... ;D

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2007, 12:39:20 AM »
Love that comparison! Why didn't I think of it first?... :'( No, seriously, I really think you have something there - they would seem to be kindred souls, musically. There's something very similar in their type of sensitivity - the sort of emotions, controlled and yet raging most of the time... :o

Actually, I didn't think of this - a contributor on a board I used to post on said he thought of Luto as "a Brahmsian romantic" in modern clothing. And I thought: "You know, that hadn't occurred to me, but it sounds right."

I think the particular genius of Lutoslawski was his ability to use the most advanced modernist techniques while remaining emotionally accessible - which someone else called "atonal romanticism."

Quote
Have you tried the Kofman recording on CPO?

No, I've only heard the Wit/Naxos. The 2nd does interest me as kind of a "trial run" for the great 3rd Symphony.
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Offline edward

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2007, 05:45:34 AM »
Edward, do you mean the ones to the words by Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna (Illakowiczowna)? I have them but not in the Naxos recording. I'm afraid I'm not particularly fond of the poet and that spoils it for me completely - I find the words irritating. :-\ Has someone recorded a translated version? Chinese would be good... ;D
Yes, those ones. I've got three recordings (one of the voice/piano version, two of the orchestral version) and my favourite of those is the EMI recording with Halina Lukomska singing and the composer conducting. It's in Polish, though.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2007, 05:56:22 AM »
that most neglected and underrated of Lutoslawski's great masterpieces, the Five Songs.

I love the Five Songs, I don't see them mentioned much though!
I have only the voice/piano version, with Jadwiga Rappé and Maja Nosowska.
The last song about Cathedral Bells is especially powerful as the piano chords become loud and threatening and the text speaks of the "fury" of the bells! Awesome. :D


Offline Brewski

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2007, 06:12:42 AM »
During the opening concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall, my biggest annoyance was seeing PBS broadcast only the final 60 seconds or so of Yo-Yo Ma playing Lutoslawski's Cello Concerto (with Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic).  It was intensely involving, and I kept hoping (in vain) they would broadcast the entire thing.  Alas.

I also like the Concerto for Orchestra, as well as Chain 3, and many other pieces by him, although I haven't "gotten to know" (i.e., listening to a piece say, at least 5 or 6 times) nearly as many as I'd like.  And strangely, not much by him shows up on concerts here.  I find that extremely odd.  I just did a "search for future events" on Carnegie Hall's site, and they don't show a single Lutoslawski work in the entire 2007-2008 season. 

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2007, 06:29:32 AM »
During the opening concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall, my biggest annoyance was seeing PBS broadcast only the final 60 seconds or so of Yo-Yo Ma playing Lutoslawski's Cello Concerto (with Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic).  It was intensely involving, and I kept hoping (in vain) they would broadcast the entire thing.  Alas.


Now, that is a shame! Salonen is probably the best conductor for Lutoslawski's music. I have heard him several times, including at least one premiere. In fact, when Salonen recorded the Lutoslawski 3rd symphony, only a month or so after PHILIPS released the composer's own recording (to rave reviews), Lutoslawski said publicly that Salonen's recording was much better than his own, much to PHILIPS's dismay! After that, Lutoslawski, who used to conduct his own music when in Los Angeles, left all to Salonen. You have to admire his honesty and complete lack of ego.

My favorites are the 3rd and 4th symphonies and the cello concerto.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2007, 08:56:15 AM »
Now, that is a shame! Salonen is probably the best conductor for Lutoslawski's music. I have heard him several times, including at least one premiere. In fact, when Salonen recorded the Lutoslawski 3rd symphony, only a month or so after PHILIPS released the composer's own recording (to rave reviews), Lutoslawski said publicly that Salonen's recording was much better than his own, much to PHILIPS's dismay! After that, Lutoslawski, who used to conduct his own music when in Los Angeles, left all to Salonen. You have to admire his honesty and complete lack of ego.

I recall those two Third's being released so close to each other -- a rather odd coincidence!  Actually I have not yet heard Salonen's (not for not wanting to), which does seem to have gotten more votes than the composer's version. 

PS, back to the Concerto.  Forgot to mention a version I love, which is with Dohnányi and Cleveland.  It's out of print, but I see Amazon has some used copies:

http://www.amazon.com/B%C3%A9la-Bart%C3%B3k-Orchestra-Lutoslawski-Cleveland/dp/B00000E455/ref=sr_1_1/002-7742563-4800816?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1176400499&sr=8-1

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Offline Maciek

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2007, 03:09:06 PM »
Wow! I'd never expect to learn something like this today! There's going to be a world premiere of an unknown Lutosławski piece in Warsaw on April 29th. It will be his Lord Tennyson song (1982) reconstructed from a manuscript by Paweł Łukaszewski. I'm not sure I'll be attending (I only learned all this a minute ago) but I'll certainly think about it!

Offline Catison

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2007, 03:25:09 PM »
I recall those two Third's being released so close to each other -- a rather odd coincidence!  Actually I have not yet heard Salonen's (not for not wanting to), which does seem to have gotten more votes than the composer's version. 

PS, back to the Concerto.  Forgot to mention a version I love, which is with Dohnányi and Cleveland.  It's out of print, but I see Amazon has some used copies:

http://www.amazon.com/B%C3%A9la-Bart%C3%B3k-Orchestra-Lutoslawski-Cleveland/dp/B00000E455/ref=sr_1_1/002-7742563-4800816?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1176400499&sr=8-1

--Bruce

Oh yes, this is definitely the recording to get.  I got it in an Apex box with 3 other cds, including Schoenberg's chamber symphonies, Messiaen's Quartet and a disc of American string music.  I was very lucky I snapped it up at BRO.  It doesn't appear there anymore.
-Brett

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2007, 10:09:55 PM »
Oh yes, this is definitely the recording to get. 

There are plenty of good recordings of the CfO; it's been very lucky on record. I've got versions by Barenboim, Wit, & Rowicki, and they're all excellent in different ways.
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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2007, 11:31:35 PM »
I would like to invite some comments, or recommendations from other performers.
I bought these some time ago, and quite enjoy them.