Author Topic: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)  (Read 50612 times)

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snyprrr

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #220 on: July 11, 2017, 09:41:09 AM »

 :-[ Kinda bored of him now, I've listened to like 130 of his works, hundreds of times already  :laugh:

Break out 'Plan 9'??!!!

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Offline Maestro267

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #221 on: September 18, 2017, 04:15:09 AM »
Listening to the Piano Concerto for the first time. I like what I've heard of Lutoslawski's music so far. I think my favourite work of his is the Cello Concerto. Or, to use my alternative title for the work, "Interruptions for cello and orchestra".

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #222 on: September 18, 2017, 05:00:26 AM »
Listening to the Piano Concerto for the first time. I like what I've heard of Lutoslawski's music so far. I think my favourite work of his is the Cello Concerto. Or, to use my alternative title for the work, "Interruptions for cello and orchestra".

My favorite works from Lutoslawski are his song cycles. Their atmosphere and the exquisitely done orchestrations make these works hugely enjoyable for me.
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Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #223 on: September 18, 2017, 12:31:25 PM »
Listening to the Piano Concerto for the first time. I like what I've heard of Lutoslawski's music so far. I think my favourite work of his is the Cello Concerto. Or, to use my alternative title for the work, "Interruptions for cello and orchestra".

The cello concerto is such a singular composition, there is no any similar work, completely remarkable and unique. The piano concerto is not as appealing as this one. Another work I like so much by him is the string quartet, fuc**ng music from his most frightening nightmares.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 12:36:49 PM by SymphonicAddict »

Offline Ainsi la nuit

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #224 on: July 12, 2018, 02:45:53 AM »
Jotting down a few thoughts on Lutosławski and his music - one of my favourite composers...

I first encountered Lutosławski through his work for two pianos, the variations on Paganini's famous 24th caprice. It's a fun work, an absolute blast to listen to, but ultimately not a very important part of his massive oeuvre. Back then though, at the ripe age of (around) 15, it made a big impression. It was terribly quirky music, with odd harmonies, funky rhythms and irresistible momentum. It was Martha Argerich and Gabriela Montero playing, a performance from the 2007 Verbier Festival that I found from my local library on a DVD. Anyway, I really enjoyed the work but ultimately forgot about the composer completely for many years to come.

The next big thrust toward his music came when I was passionately working my way through Krystian Zimerman's recorded output. It was then when I discovered the piano concerto - the only one he wrote - in a performance led by Lutosławski himself, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. What a strange experience it was! The music would have scared me off had I heard it a few years earlier, but by then I was already familiar with many works of Schoenberg, Berg, Boulez and others. But there was something unique about the textures in the music. It was mysterious, light and elusive - like water that escapes when one tries to catch it with bare hands. I could spot familiar elements all over the music, but still it felt unfamiliar and exotic; this is a quality that I value in Lutosławski's music in general. It always feels fresh. On a side note, Zimerman later recorded the concerto again with Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker - a fine performance indeed, even if I slightly prefer the earlier take. However, through that new CD I got to know the 2nd symphony, a terrific work that made me even more curious about the work of this composer.

When talking about Lutosławski, it's of course necessary to discuss his usage of aleatoricism in his work. He discovered the possibility of implementing elements of chance in his music upon hearing a radio broadcast of Cage's piano concerto. This discovery led to a total transformation of Lutosławski's compositional style - the earlier folk-inspired music, interesting and brilliant in its own right, took a drastic turn into works like Jeux vénitiens and the aforementioned 2nd symphony. I personally feel a very strong connection to this part of Lutosławski's music: it's unpredictable but organized, ever-changing but still controlled by the composer to an extent that it could never be called pure chance music, if such a term exists (I'm not trained musically, so I must apologize for any terminological inconsistencies, but I've gotten the impression that the users at this forum aren't too fussy about such things). I must make a disclaimer though: while I love discussing the development of Lutosławski's theoretical approach to music, I feel like such discussions sometimes overshadow the thing that matters the most: listening and playing the music, and reacting to the music and deciphering the message that lies within. This of course happens with a lot of 20th and 21st century composers...

Like I most often do with (for me) new composers, I continued my search through concertante works since it's a genre I connect with very strongly. Discovering Anne-Sophie Mutter's performances of Chain 2 and the orchestrated Partita was a game-changer, the music was so exciting that I became completely obsessed with it. Anyone reading this: if you haven't heard that recording, go do that now! The performances are full of fire and passion, and it was the learning of these works that, according to her own report, made Mutter realize that there's an urge to play contemporary music in her. I heard the Partita live this season, along with the 4th symphony, and it felt very special indeed! Anyway, after those two I searched out the cello concerto and the double concerto for oboe and harp. Especially the latter felt like an absolutely essential piece already on my first hearing. I once read a critic calling it "lesser Lutosławski" - I beg to disagree! To each their own, I guess...

The 3rd symphony is a stunning work, already considered a classic by many. I really love it so much. There's so much going on there at all times, and there's a particularly touching moment near the end of the piece, where it feels like all the tension has come to an end and suddenly the listener is free to run where ever they wish... I'm going to hear the work live next season, can't wait! The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, under its chief conductor Hannu Lintu, is actually making a complete recording of the symphonies, along with other works. Kudos to them! I feel like Lutosławski is at his very best in the orchestral scores he wrote. There's something shimmering, delicate and airy about his textures, even though he's sometimes terribly brutal - think about the massive piano banging in the Jeux vénitiens; a moment that fills me with joy every time. There's so much to explore again and again: the Musique funèbre, Preludes and fugue, the Livre pour orchestre, the Mi-parti, the Novelette, the Chain 3... All works worth of careful listening and study! Even the early works that Lutosławski himself later dismissed, like the concerto for orchestra, are really fused with his unique imagination.

While Lutosławski's orchestral works form the main body of his output, there's still a lot of music he wrote in other genres too. How about the string quartet, a staggeringly difficult and complex work? It's quite a ride for the players and listeners alike, but ultimately very rewarding. The brief Subito for piano and violin is a worthy piece, not to mention the chamber version of the Partita. Certain vocal pieces are definitely among his best work: Trois poèmes d'Henri Michaux, Paroles tissées, Les espaces du sommeil... He also wrote quite a lot of children's songs, accessible pieces that anyone can enjoy! Versatile is one of the words that I feel characterizes this marvelous composer very well.

There's no doubt that Lutosławski is my favourite Polish composer, and one of my favourite composers overall. Along with Schoenberg, he is the "Beethoven of the 20th century" for me, if such a silly term could be used - constantly exploring, always renewing and never ever compromising the artistic integrity of his work. His work is innovative, exciting, fresh and always full of new things to discover. I'm happy to see that his music is played with increasing frequency everywhere, but of course there's still a long way for him to be a household name. Leading performers - Rattle, Mutter, Rostropovich, Salonen... - who promote or have promoted his work certainly helps. Lutosławski often spoke of "fishing for souls" - meaning that he, through his music, tried to find people with similar sensibilities and aesthetic values. Well, I certainly grabbed his hook with enthusiasm and have never regretted it!

How do people here feel about Lutosławski's music? I know there's been plenty of discussion on this thread already, but I'd be happy to see some fresh activity too, since I really feel strongly for this composer. :)

Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #225 on: July 12, 2018, 07:22:17 PM »
I agree with you about the greatness of Lutoslawski. He is also one of my favorite composers (on a top 30 list). I'm impressed by the soundworlds Lutoslawski created in many of his works, soundscapes that seem coming from nightmares or very-weird oniric places, quite enigmatic and mysterious overall. I think it's the most characteristic quality of his music, helped by a effective orchestration (regarding the orchestral works of course). My favorite works are the unique Cello Concerto, the Piano Concerto, Jeux Vénitiens, the wildly nightmarish String Quartet, the Concerto for orchestra, Musique funèbre, Variations on a theme by Paganini for piano and orchestra, Preludes and Fugue for 13 strings, Songs for alto and orchestra, Livre and Mi-Parti. Being a huge symphony fan, I haven't assimilated his 4 symphonies yet, but I'll do it in due course.

The box-set of Naxos is a real treasure and a must-have for Lutoslawski fans.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 07:26:04 PM by SymphonicAddict »

Offline Ainsi la nuit

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #226 on: July 15, 2018, 08:25:28 AM »
The box-set of Naxos is a real treasure and a must-have for Lutoslawski fans.

Absolutely. The series has covered a lot of lesser known works, and served as a great help when I was going through (literally) every work by the composer I could find.

For the symphonies, there are already quite a lot of options available. Salonen/LPO is a good choice (the orchestra premiered the 4th!) and Gardner on Chandos achieved fine results as well.

Offline relm1

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #227 on: July 15, 2018, 03:23:48 PM »
Absolutely. The series has covered a lot of lesser known works, and served as a great help when I was going through (literally) every work by the composer I could find.

For the symphonies, there are already quite a lot of options available. Salonen/LPO is a good choice (the orchestra premiered the 4th!) and Gardner on Chandos achieved fine results as well.

Don't forget Lutoslawski's own interpretation which I find superior to the others.  This for example:
https://www.amazon.com/Lutoslawski-Orchestral-Music-Witold/dp/B001BJ84BG

Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #228 on: August 09, 2018, 07:16:25 PM »
As I told you, if you don't know the Lutoslawski truly unique string quartet yet, please do yourself a favor and give it many listens. It's such an intriguing piece. You don't have to wait so much so that your creativity begins to make you think of strange creatures, whispering insects at a nightmarish dark night, or too crude experiences. Here we have a Lutoslawski at the height of his creative powers. And what about the technical mastery? Just impeccable, controlled randomness and a huge amount of effects that easily mesmerize you. This is an ode to the bizarre  >:D



The performance is in an authority of its own. This is music that is beyond words to be honest, you have to hear it to live it.

And what about the cover art? Well, it depicts fairly good (but not enough) the impressions one can imagine.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2018, 07:18:49 PM by SymphonicAddict »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #229 on: May 07, 2019, 12:13:10 PM »
Jotting down a few thoughts on Lutosławski and his music - one of my favourite composers...

I first encountered Lutosławski through his work for two pianos, the variations on Paganini's famous 24th caprice. It's a fun work, an absolute blast to listen to, but ultimately not a very important part of his massive oeuvre. Back then though, at the ripe age of (around) 15, it made a big impression. It was terribly quirky music, with odd harmonies, funky rhythms and irresistible momentum. It was Martha Argerich and Gabriela Montero playing, a performance from the 2007 Verbier Festival that I found from my local library on a DVD. Anyway, I really enjoyed the work but ultimately forgot about the composer completely for many years to come.

The next big thrust toward his music came when I was passionately working my way through Krystian Zimerman's recorded output. It was then when I discovered the piano concerto - the only one he wrote - in a performance led by Lutosławski himself, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. What a strange experience it was! The music would have scared me off had I heard it a few years earlier, but by then I was already familiar with many works of Schoenberg, Berg, Boulez and others. But there was something unique about the textures in the music. It was mysterious, light and elusive - like water that escapes when one tries to catch it with bare hands. I could spot familiar elements all over the music, but still it felt unfamiliar and exotic; this is a quality that I value in Lutosławski's music in general. It always feels fresh. On a side note, Zimerman later recorded the concerto again with Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker - a fine performance indeed, even if I slightly prefer the earlier take. However, through that new CD I got to know the 2nd symphony, a terrific work that made me even more curious about the work of this composer.

When talking about Lutosławski, it's of course necessary to discuss his usage of aleatoricism in his work. He discovered the possibility of implementing elements of chance in his music upon hearing a radio broadcast of Cage's piano concerto. This discovery led to a total transformation of Lutosławski's compositional style - the earlier folk-inspired music, interesting and brilliant in its own right, took a drastic turn into works like Jeux vénitiens and the aforementioned 2nd symphony. I personally feel a very strong connection to this part of Lutosławski's music: it's unpredictable but organized, ever-changing but still controlled by the composer to an extent that it could never be called pure chance music, if such a term exists (I'm not trained musically, so I must apologize for any terminological inconsistencies, but I've gotten the impression that the users at this forum aren't too fussy about such things). I must make a disclaimer though: while I love discussing the development of Lutosławski's theoretical approach to music, I feel like such discussions sometimes overshadow the thing that matters the most: listening and playing the music, and reacting to the music and deciphering the message that lies within. This of course happens with a lot of 20th and 21st century composers...

Like I most often do with (for me) new composers, I continued my search through concertante works since it's a genre I connect with very strongly. Discovering Anne-Sophie Mutter's performances of Chain 2 and the orchestrated Partita was a game-changer, the music was so exciting that I became completely obsessed with it. Anyone reading this: if you haven't heard that recording, go do that now! The performances are full of fire and passion, and it was the learning of these works that, according to her own report, made Mutter realize that there's an urge to play contemporary music in her. I heard the Partita live this season, along with the 4th symphony, and it felt very special indeed! Anyway, after those two I searched out the cello concerto and the double concerto for oboe and harp. Especially the latter felt like an absolutely essential piece already on my first hearing. I once read a critic calling it "lesser Lutosławski" - I beg to disagree! To each their own, I guess...

The 3rd symphony is a stunning work, already considered a classic by many. I really love it so much. There's so much going on there at all times, and there's a particularly touching moment near the end of the piece, where it feels like all the tension has come to an end and suddenly the listener is free to run where ever they wish... I'm going to hear the work live next season, can't wait! The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, under its chief conductor Hannu Lintu, is actually making a complete recording of the symphonies, along with other works. Kudos to them! I feel like Lutosławski is at his very best in the orchestral scores he wrote. There's something shimmering, delicate and airy about his textures, even though he's sometimes terribly brutal - think about the massive piano banging in the Jeux vénitiens; a moment that fills me with joy every time. There's so much to explore again and again: the Musique funèbre, Preludes and fugue, the Livre pour orchestre, the Mi-parti, the Novelette, the Chain 3... All works worth of careful listening and study! Even the early works that Lutosławski himself later dismissed, like the concerto for orchestra, are really fused with his unique imagination.

While Lutosławski's orchestral works form the main body of his output, there's still a lot of music he wrote in other genres too. How about the string quartet, a staggeringly difficult and complex work? It's quite a ride for the players and listeners alike, but ultimately very rewarding. The brief Subito for piano and violin is a worthy piece, not to mention the chamber version of the Partita. Certain vocal pieces are definitely among his best work: Trois poèmes d'Henri Michaux, Paroles tissées, Les espaces du sommeil... He also wrote quite a lot of children's songs, accessible pieces that anyone can enjoy! Versatile is one of the words that I feel characterizes this marvelous composer very well.

There's no doubt that Lutosławski is my favourite Polish composer, and one of my favourite composers overall. Along with Schoenberg, he is the "Beethoven of the 20th century" for me, if such a silly term could be used - constantly exploring, always renewing and never ever compromising the artistic integrity of his work. His work is innovative, exciting, fresh and always full of new things to discover. I'm happy to see that his music is played with increasing frequency everywhere, but of course there's still a long way for him to be a household name. Leading performers - Rattle, Mutter, Rostropovich, Salonen... - who promote or have promoted his work certainly helps. Lutosławski often spoke of "fishing for souls" - meaning that he, through his music, tried to find people with similar sensibilities and aesthetic values. Well, I certainly grabbed his hook with enthusiasm and have never regretted it!

How do people here feel about Lutosławski's music? I know there's been plenty of discussion on this thread already, but I'd be happy to see some fresh activity too, since I really feel strongly for this composer. :)

A bit late to the party, but thanks for this post. Quite fun to read through. Lutoslawski’s music is something that has been increasingly more and more important to me as my musical experience and tastes mature. I can’t remember exactly the moment I heard his music, but I know it had to be his Concerto for Orchestra that I first heard probably 10 years ago now. I bought the Dohnányi with The Cleveland Orchestra on Decca that paired this work with Bartók’s of the same title. Truth be told, I have always thought the Lutoslawski work was better than the Bartók and is much better than the composer gave it credit for (he distanced himself further away from it, especially in the 1960s where the composer’s ‘true’ voice emerged).

I’ll type more later...
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Offline schnittkease

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #230 on: May 07, 2019, 01:48:49 PM »
Thanks for bumping this. Livre must be one of the most spellbinding pieces I've ever heard; I return to it every few months.

Offline Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #231 on: May 07, 2019, 01:59:15 PM »
I composer I should revisit. Most of my listening has been to this old EMI release (which has now been rebranded Warner, of course).



I remember being a bit obsessed with the funeral music.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #232 on: May 07, 2019, 04:13:19 PM »
Thanks for bumping this. Livre must be one of the most spellbinding pieces I've ever heard; I return to it every few months.

I should revisit Livre. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve heard a Lutoslawski work that I’ve actively disliked. Even if I’m not certain of a work of his, I’ll return to it many months later only to be overwhelmed by the work. In terms of his orchestral music, the only work that has given me any sort of problems was his Symphony No. 2, but even now I’m beginning to untangle the musical webs of this complex work.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 04:17:33 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #233 on: May 07, 2019, 04:16:05 PM »
I composer I should revisit. Most of my listening has been to this old EMI release (which has now been rebranded Warner, of course).



I remember being a bit obsessed with the funeral music.

Musique funèbre is an outstanding work, Scarpia. I own those composed conducted performances in this incarnation:


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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #234 on: May 07, 2019, 04:37:33 PM »
A bit late to the party, but thanks for this post. Quite fun to read through. Lutoslawski’s music is something that has been increasingly more and more important to me as my musical experience and tastes mature. I can’t remember exactly the moment I heard his music, but I know it had to be his Concerto for Orchestra that I first heard probably 10 years ago now. I bought the Dohnányi with The Cleveland Orchestra on Decca that paired this work with Bartók’s of the same title. Truth be told, I have always thought the Lutoslawski work was better than the Bartók and is much better than the composer gave it credit for (he distanced himself further away from it, especially in the 1960s where the composer’s ‘true’ voice emerged).

I’ll type more later...

To continue my thoughts from the post (above)...

After I heard works of his like Little Suite and Concerto for Orchestra, I heard Jeux vénitiens and that’s when I thought “What in the world is this?” and “Is this the same composer who wrote Concerto for Orchestra?” Turns out that, indeed, it was the same composer and I didn’t misread any labels. ;) It just took me by surprise that’s all and I then had to acquaint myself with his biography to see just where exactly this split from the earlier folk-influenced period began. When I finally heard his Piano Concerto (forget which performance, but it might have the Zimerman recording), my mind was truly blown. I wasn’t expecting anything like it, but also my expectations were beyond met. This is around the time I had also acquired the composer-conducted set on EMI and, to be honest, my mind is still recuperating from the awesomeness that came forth from the speakers. Every work was a spectacle to behold. I also started to read about how aleatoric musical procedures started affecting his music and how it came to give his compositions an element of spontaneity that you, otherwise, might not achieve with strictly notated music. What surprised me is how these aleatoric ideas didn’t really sound completely random, but, rather, like it was a part of the composition all along. I have come to really regard him as one of the finest composers of his era and really admire how he stuck to doing his thing without getting caught up in what composers like Boulez or Xenakis were doing (even though he probably was very much aware of both composers’ work). It also seems his music is coming from more of a French musical angle than a particularly Polish or a German one. A lot of this boils down to his way of getting to the essential in his music, but also how certain elements can color others. A truly remarkable composer and, from what I understand, a truly nice man and a gentleman even to those that disliked his music and criticized it.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 04:40:51 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #235 on: May 07, 2019, 06:37:47 PM »
For those that may have not seen this excellent documentary:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/lJ9EeRvYRTY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/lJ9EeRvYRTY</a>
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #236 on: May 09, 2019, 05:19:54 AM »
Some other rather interesting videos from The Philharmonia’s YouTube channel:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Vxp9Q4k28q4" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Vxp9Q4k28q4</a>

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/hg1YQDFTFMY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/hg1YQDFTFMY</a>

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/v0H3HC12VG0" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/v0H3HC12VG0</a>
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy