Author Topic: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)  (Read 80614 times)

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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #240 on: August 11, 2019, 11:34:29 AM »
Lutoslawski's music has been blowing my mind lately. I recently discovered it after randomly picking up a used CD in a record store from the LaSalle Quartet with works by Penderecki, Mayuzumi, Cage, and of course Lutoslawski. The latter was like nothing else I ever heard and I've been picking up tons of his music lately, mostly the Antoni Wit series on Naxos (I think he has an amazing feel for this music) but I also just got the Philips Lutoslawski compilation with recordings by the composer, by Witold Rowicki, and others.

I don't know what it is about his music. I really can't put my finger on it. The more I listen to it, though, the more it makes sense. I feel like his music is actually extremely accessible, despite how modernistic it may come off at first. Does anyone know why this might be? Perhaps I'm just accustomed to the language by now, but I don't think his music comes off as much more thorny than someone like Debussy, for example.

This is truly incredible stuff. My favorites so far are the first Symphony, the aforementioned String Quartet, Jeux vénitiens, and the late song cycle Chantefleurs et Chantefables. I just finished listening to his Funeral Music for strings too and really enjoyed it. Next on my list to check out is the piano concerto. I've heard individual movements and was completely blown away. Though I think I need to work through what I have first.

SymphonicAddict

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #241 on: August 11, 2019, 01:09:56 PM »
Lutoslawski's music has been blowing my mind lately. I recently discovered it after randomly picking up a used CD in a record store from the LaSalle Quartet with works by Penderecki, Mayuzumi, Cage, and of course Lutoslawski. The latter was like nothing else I ever heard and I've been picking up tons of his music lately, mostly the Antoni Wit series on Naxos (I think he has an amazing feel for this music) but I also just got the Philips Lutoslawski compilation with recordings by the composer, by Witold Rowicki, and others.

I don't know what it is about his music. I really can't put my finger on it. The more I listen to it, though, the more it makes sense. I feel like his music is actually extremely accessible, despite how modernistic it may come off at first. Does anyone know why this might be? Perhaps I'm just accustomed to the language by now, but I don't think his music comes off as much more thorny than someone like Debussy, for example.

This is truly incredible stuff. My favorites so far are the first Symphony, the aforementioned String Quartet, Jeux vénitiens, and the late song cycle Chantefleurs et Chantefables. I just finished listening to his Funeral Music for strings too and really enjoyed it. Next on my list to check out is the piano concerto. I've heard individual movements and was completely blown away. Though I think I need to work through what I have first.

How interesting to read, I feel identified with what you wrote. I'm glad you enjoyed his unique String Quartet, it's Lutoslawski at his best on small ensembles. For me it's like music from a weird nightmare, with some whispering and mesmerizing effects. He was a quite unique conjurer of fascinating atmospheres. His voice is easily recognizable.

Have you ever tried his 3rd Symphony? At first I was reluctant to this kind of music, but now I consider it brilliant and cleverly created, and it's quite enigmatic, with hidden messages.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #242 on: August 11, 2019, 01:19:00 PM »
I haven't yet heard the 3rd symphony, no. But it is included on this Philips "The Essential Lutoslawski" 2CD that I've just picked up, with the composer conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. Surely it will not be long before I get around to that one. Seems that's one of his best-known works, along with the Concerto for Orchestra, which is also included.

I don't quite know if the String Quartet is a nightmare for me, I feel like it's a still, deep body of water. Dark and mysterious for sure, but never completely unsettling.

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #243 on: August 11, 2019, 01:30:12 PM »
I haven't yet heard the 3rd symphony, no. But it is included on this Philips "The Essential Lutoslawski" 2CD that I've just picked up, with the composer conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. Surely it will not be long before I get around to that one. Seems that's one of his best-known works, along with the Concerto for Orchestra, which is also included.

I don't quite know if the String Quartet is a nightmare for me, I feel like it's a still, deep body of water. Dark and mysterious for sure, but never completely unsettling.

I hope you do it so. The Concerto for Orchestra is one of his outstanding early works, even I prefer it to that of Béla Bartók (as good as it is, of course). I'd also recommend the Cello Concerto, which is often considered his opus magnum. Mi-Parti, Livre, Partita for violin and orchestra, the Piano Concerto, Preludes and Fugue for 13 strings, the Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Chains I-II-III. I wonder why Lutoslawski didn't write any opera. I think that would have been more than interesting. A quite surrealistic piece.

And how intriguing and curious your feelings are about the SQ. I'd never have thought them that way!  ;)
« Last Edit: August 11, 2019, 01:35:46 PM by SymphonicAddict »

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #244 on: August 11, 2019, 01:44:39 PM »
^You are getting me excited to explore his works further, but I'm trying to wade through it all slowly. There is so much of it (relatively speaking), and it seems to be all of a high quality. But I have many of those works you've mentioned already in my library from recent purchases, including the Cello Concerto, Violin and Orchestra Partita, Paganini variations (listened and enjoyed earlier, a strange work), Chain II. Just a matter of getting around to all of it.

As I alluded to I am also extremely intrigued to hear the piano concerto in full. Is Zimerman the way to go, or has anyone else recorded a formidable performance?

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #245 on: August 11, 2019, 01:57:24 PM »
^You are getting me excited to explore his works further, but I'm trying to wade through it all slowly. There is so much of it (relatively speaking), and it seems to be all of a high quality. But I have many of those works you've mentioned already in my library from recent purchases, including the Cello Concerto, Violin and Orchestra Partita, Paganini variations (listened and enjoyed earlier, a strange work), Chain II. Just a matter of getting around to all of it.

As I alluded to I am also extremely intrigued to hear the piano concerto in full. Is Zimerman the way to go, or has anyone else recorded a formidable performance?

Do it slowly, there is no hurry. Just do it when you feel it's convenient. The Zimerman is a superb performance indeed. The Naxos rendition is a strong alternative as well.

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #246 on: August 20, 2019, 06:57:41 PM »


Prompted by the recent discussion about this composer, it was time to reacquaint myself with his symphonies. Today 1 & 2. I didn't recall how shockingly astonishing the 1st Symphony is. A firm candidate for the best first symphony by anyone IMO. The management of the instruments, the chaotic effects, the sonorities, the weird atmospheres, the musical argument... simply wow! It had me at the edge of my seat. I can't but praise the rendition by Salonen and the LAPO, exemplary in all regards. The clapping and some effusive reactions at the end are a proof of how terrific the performance was (a live recording). A clear masterpiece in my view.

The 2nd belongs to the Lutoslawski's recognizable soundworld, so it sounds much odder but always gripping my interest. I sum up the symphony in two words: amorphously thought-provoking. This is the kind of works where you have to pay attention to details and subtleties. Independently of musical theories and academic basis, this music leads me to think of oniric and surrealistic landscapes with some touches of fear. Somehow this music makes sense to me. I find that very rewarding and highly stimulating. A thoroughly striking work.

P.S. Lutoslawski was a genius!

Offline schnittkease

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #247 on: August 20, 2019, 10:31:12 PM »
Wait till you get to the 3rd!

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #248 on: August 21, 2019, 01:43:15 AM »


Prompted by the recent discussion about this composer, it was time to reacquaint myself with his symphonies. Today 1 & 2. I didn't recall how shockingly astonishing the 1st Symphony is. A firm candidate for the best first symphony by anyone IMO. The management of the instruments, the chaotic effects, the sonorities, the weird atmospheres, the musical argument... simply wow! It had me at the edge of my seat. I can't but praise the rendition by Salonen and the LAPO, exemplary in all regards. The clapping and some effusive reactions at the end are a proof of how terrific the performance was (a live recording). A clear masterpiece in my view.

The 2nd belongs to the Lutoslawski's recognizable soundworld, so it sounds much odder but always gripping my interest. I sum up the symphony in two words: amorphously thought-provoking. This is the kind of works where you have to pay attention to details and subtleties. Independently of musical theories and academic basis, this music leads me to think of oniric and surrealistic landscapes with some touches of fear. Somehow this music makes sense to me. I find that very rewarding and highly stimulating. A thoroughly striking work.

P.S. Lutoslawski was a genius!

Yes! The first symphony is a killer! Definitely my favorite of the 3 I've heard (1, 3, & 4 - I love the other two, but the 1st made such an impression when I first heard it).

I have recordings of Luto's symphonies by Antoni Wit as well as the composer himself, but I really want the Salonen. I think he and the Los Angeles PO would be perfect for this music.

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #249 on: August 21, 2019, 12:06:28 PM »
Wait till you get to the 3rd!

So did I!



Symphony No. 3 from the Philips twofer and the 4th from the other one.

The 3rd is in the vein of the 2nd, seems like an expansion of it but feels more confident, and the limited aleatorism technique is clearer. This is a sound feast, the way Lutoslawski exploits the orchestral colour is amazing. And lots of effects, but not mere flashy effects, they are inherent to the musical structure. It ellicits all kind of intriguing feelings. At times sounds like nocturnal music à la Bartók with that mesmerizing whispering. Fascinating stuff.

The 4th sounds a bit more concentrated and more symphonic. I saw somewhere that it's more difficult to grasp than the others, but I didn't feel it so. It's somehow approachable. Among them, it was the one I liked the least but not for much.

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #250 on: August 21, 2019, 12:08:28 PM »
Yes! The first symphony is a killer! Definitely my favorite of the 3 I've heard (1, 3, & 4 - I love the other two, but the 1st made such an impression when I first heard it).

I have recordings of Luto's symphonies by Antoni Wit as well as the composer himself, but I really want the Salonen. I think he and the Los Angeles PO would be perfect for this music.

I share your sentiments about the 1st: it blown me away. It could be my favorite, and the 3rd is not far behind.

Salonen and the LAPO understand and breath this music. Definitely it's a safe purchase.

Offline Andy D.

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #251 on: August 21, 2019, 01:14:31 PM »
I first learned of Lutoslawski through the attached CD, and actually found his piece more interesting than Penderecki's (and this is coming from a fan of Krystof).

Looking forward to checking out his symphonies tonight I have 3 (BPO) in  the queue.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #252 on: August 21, 2019, 01:33:11 PM »
^Funny, I also first got into Lutoslawski from a disc which I bought for the Penderecki quartet that was included:



It's a phenomenal disc, and the Luto quartet is definitely the highlight.

Anyway, I really want to get that disc you've mentioned, specifically for the three Penderecki quartets. It's on my wish list. But I think I'd better get into other works of Penderecki first, as I don't know much of his music. Maybe some of his orchestral music.

I'm listening to Luto's 1st symphony now. Antoni Wit, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Wit Naxos series is not to be slept on. These are phenomenal performances of Lutoslawski's great music. I have a few volumes of this series (including the 1st and 4th symphonies) as well as the famous Philips "Essential Lutoslawski" compilation. All of it is great. I'm really starting to become obsessed with this composer lately. I think he is easily one of the greatest composers to rise out of the postwar generation.

Offline Andy D.

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #253 on: August 21, 2019, 02:27:59 PM »
For me Penderecki is one of the the greatest living composers. My favorites are his symphonies and the Utrenja. I like his Requiem too.

Offline relm1

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #254 on: August 21, 2019, 02:48:20 PM »
For me Penderecki is one of the the greatest living composers. My favorites are his symphonies and the Utrenja. I like his Requiem too.

Don't forget the concerti!

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #255 on: August 22, 2019, 01:48:02 AM »
For me Penderecki is one of the the greatest living composers. My favorites are his symphonies and the Utrenja. I like his Requiem too.

I don't think I have ever heard anything by Penderecki (not sure) and I don't even care.
I believe I have head Lutoslawski's music, but considering I don't remember anything that music must have been indifferent for me.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #256 on: August 22, 2019, 01:50:55 AM »
I don't think I have ever heard anything by Penderecki (not sure) and I don't even care.
I believe I have head Lutoslawski's music, but considering I don't remember anything that music must have been indifferent for me.
Why bother posting in the thread at all then then...? I doubt many of us will be enthralled by your indifference... ;D

Offline Andy D.

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #257 on: August 22, 2019, 02:08:36 AM »
Why bother posting in the thread at all then then...? I doubt many of us will be enthralled by your indifference... ;D

To be fair, Penderecki and Lutoslawski might be considered an acquired taste by many.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #258 on: August 22, 2019, 02:13:23 AM »
To be fair, Penderecki and Lutoslawski might be considered an acquired taste by many.

Indeed, but are the composer threads in this forum really the place to discuss indifference toward the composers in question? I would even be OK with passionate hatred.  ;D

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
« Reply #259 on: August 22, 2019, 02:41:41 AM »
Why bother posting in the thread at all then then...? I doubt many of us will be enthralled by your indifference... ;D

To express a viewpoint that there are classical music fans to whom Lutoslawski and Penderecki are obscure composers.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"