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Lutoslawski: The Symphonies (2 CD)

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Audio CD, March 12, 2013
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$16.97 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Lutoslawski: The Symphonies (2 CD) + Salonen: 'Out Of Nowhere' Violin Concerto/Nyx
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Editorial Reviews


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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
  • Sample this album Title - Artist (Sample)
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
  • Composer: Witold Lutoslawski
  • Audio CD (March 12, 2013)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: SONY MASTERWORKS
  • ASIN: B00AK3X3M4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,400 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Witold Lutosławski is by now assured a repertoire staple, in many ways thanks to the commitment of Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Of the many giants of 20th Century music few were as introspective and compelled to discover a mode of expressing the psyche as Lutoslawski. My first introduction to his work was in the 1970s, listening to the rehearsals and subsequent performance of his 'Concerto for Orchestra' and it was love at first sound. Yet hearing how this quiet giant grew in his orchestrating techniques, his exploration of sound clouds and finding exquisite melody in a format of linear atonal composition all culminating in his 4th Symphony is no less than astonishing.

Fortunately for everyone Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic bonded with Witold Lutoslawski in an understandable union: Lutoslawski blossomed as a very important voice in Contemporary Music at the same time Salonen took over the helm of the LA Philharmonic. There is also an affinity for Lutoslawski's music inherent in the very city of Los Angeles - a place of the avante garde, a testing ground for the leading edge in all the arts, and a populace open to embracing the new. From the beginning the presentation of Lutoslawski's works were lauded by both the audiences and critics, to the point that at the end of his career Lutoslawski had formed a warm affinity for LA and vice versa. Salonen has been recording Lutoslawski works from the beginning of his relationship with the LA Phil and the collaboration has produced some of the finest recordings of the composer's works. And though there are other release of Salonen records of the symphonies 2, 3 and 4, this is the first recoding of the 1st symphony.
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Format: Audio CD
The Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen originally recorded Witold Lutoslawski's Symphonies 2-4 and the brief "Fanfare for the LA Philharmonic" for CBS/Sony Classical in the 1980s and 1990s, a couple of acclaimed discs (1 2) that many fans of 20th century music are already likely to have. With this 2013 reissue, Sony now offers a recording of Lutoslawski's First. However, whether you'll want this particular set or not depends on you, see below.

Of course, that Symphony No. 1 (1947) is not one of the Polish composer's masterpieces, being written early in his career when he was still seeking a distinctive voice. This is a fairly anonymous Neoclassical work in four movements (Allegro giusto, Poco adagio, Allegretto misterioso, and Allegro vivace), with the rhythmic zest of Bartók and Stravinsky. Lutoslawski does extend tonality to a degree that troubled the Communist establishment, but never in a way that is recognizably his own. This is a live recording and there is applause at the end.

Lutoslawski's fully mature style, in my opinion, came only in the late 1950s when he decided to embrace total chromaticism and introduce "ad libitum" sections into his works, where the musicians are given clearly defined pitches but the conductor stops beating time. The result is a bubbly texture that could not be achieved through other means. The "Symphony No. 2" (1968) was Lutoslawski's first large-scale orchestral work using these techniques. The two movements bear the titles "Hesitant" and "Direct", and the symphony sounds like what they imply.
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This is a release that showcases the super-virtuoso skills the L.A. Phil., as much as it just does any honor or justice to Lutoslawski's unique contribution to the symphonic form. There's even a hot fanfare thrown in for good measure, composed specifically for the L.A. Philharmonic.

Lutoslawki's third and fourth symphonies incorporate aleatoric passages - passages that call upon the players to improvise on a series of suggested notes. This isn't just a gimmick, but an integral part of the fabric and textures to these two symphonies. Being so great and comfortable with modern music, the Los Angeles musicians never sound hesitant or embarrassed by these passages.

It may sound as though I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill, but the point is this: Lutoslawski, Salonen and Los Angeles are something of a dream-team, a perfect fit. The sound quality could be a tad sharper and clearer in the earlier Sony releases (symphonies 3 and 4), but could hardly any better in the more recent recording of the first symphony, captured in the relatively new Disney Hall.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. Allen on April 19, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Despite competition from Gardner on Chandos, these, in my opinion, are the finest performances of these symphonies currently available. Performances and recordings are impeccable.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan Fancher on October 2, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My husband is a fan of Lutoslawski's music. This was a gift for him. Perfect! Gorgeous recording of these pieces.
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Lutoslawski: The Symphonies (2 CD)
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