Home » Projects » Lutosławski PC & Symphony #2 w/Rattle - BPO » Album

Track Listing:

Lutosławski: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra - dotted crotchet = ca. 110 5:35
Lutosławski: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra - Presto ? Poco meno mosso ? Lento
Lutosławski: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra - quaver = ca. 85 ? Largo
Lutosławski: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra - crotchet = ca. 84 ? Presto
Lutosławski: Symphony No. 2 - Hesitant
Lutosławski: Symphony No. 2 - Direct

Krystian Zimerman :

Lutosławski PC & Symphony #2 w/Rattle - BPO

Krystian Zimerman, Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Record Two Seminal Works by Witold Lutosławski - The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and Symphony no. 2 form this tribute to one of Poland's most acclaimed composers.

This album continues the successful collaboration of Krystian Zimerman and Sir Simon Rattle who have previously recorded for Deutsche Grammophon Brahms's Piano Concerto no. 1.  This time, they turn their attention to works by Polish composer Witold Lutosławski.  Recorded at the Berlin Philharmonie, this recording highlights two seminal works of 20th century music.

In 1960 Witold Lutosławski heard John Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra on Polish radio. It proved to be a seminal experience: "Those few minutes were to change my life decisively … While listening to it, I suddenly realized that I could compose music differently from that of my past."

Picking up Cage's idea of music that operates using random processes, Lutosławski first developed his own compositional principle of ad libitum playing in Jeux vénitiens in 1961 and in his String Quartet of 1964, but his first major orchestral work to use what he himself described as this process of "limited aleatoricism" was his Second Symphony, which he composed, commissioned by North German Radio, from 1965–67. Here Lutosławski, who was born in Warsaw in 1913 and who studied mathematics at university, created a series of small motivic building blocks devised for their overall sound qualities and entrusted to the various musicians in turn, each of whom plays with the material without any beat being prescribed. The conductor marks the beginning and the end of the player's improvisatory contribution, which is based on the notes assigned to him or her. Particularly fascinating about these orchestral surfaces is their iridescent and colorful vitality, which offers us an insight into their creator's ability to organize sounds in a very precise way.

The symphony's two-movement form is at odds with the classical symphonic tradition, and yet it follows a clear dramatic trajectory. The first part is tentative in keeping with its heading "Hésitant", rousing expectations that are met in the second section, "Direct". Here the music rises gradually to a climax, building up over five waves of increasing intensity. An epilogue brings the work to an end.

Twenty years later the Salzburg Festival commissioned a piano concerto from the composer. He completed it in 1988, drawing on ideas that he had first sketched out more than fifty years earlier. Even its opening movement seems to take the listener on a musical journey back into the past, a journey that starts out with the modern, contemporary musical language and personal style that were typical of the composer. In an enchanted musical thicket of delicate woodwind writing and shimmering string figures, agitated bird calls are heard, together with crystalline notes repeated in the piano. Out of these repeated notes there then develops – with none of the ad libitum writing found in the Second Symphony – a dense pianistic gesture that recalls the piano concertos of Bartók and Prokofiev. The movement culminates in a martial orchestral tutti.

Lutosławski's Piano Concerto is dedicated to the Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman, who introduced the work to Salzburg audiences in 1988. The following year he recorded it for Deutsche Grammophon with Lutosławski and since then he has performed it countless times in public.