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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lutoslawski, Works for Piano Solo, Veronique Briel

Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) wrote some very engaging piano music in the formative years of his career. I am not quite sure, honestly, of what solo music he wrote for the instrument after 1968 (because I have not heard any of it) but we do have a very nice volume by Veronique Briel, Works for Solo Piano (Dux 0967), that covers convincingly the period 1934-1968.

The "Piano Sonata" (1934) and early-middle works have a distinct impressionist feel. They are no less delightful for it. As his music progresses we find the influence of Polish folk elements, at first alongside an impressionist palette, later in a more straightforward context--all this can be heard beginning with the "Folk Melodies", 12 short segments, from 1945.

"Bucolics", "2 Studies", "3 Pieces for the Young," and the 1968 "Invention" bring us closer to the later modern style of the composer, with some impressive music and a glimpse of the brilliance of his mature period.

Other than the Sonata, these were presumably not meant to be ambitious in some paradigmatic sense. Nonetheless Ms. Briel plays them with great heart and they have a good deal of charm, very pianistic and memorable.

The experience may not do justice to the full impact of Lutoslawski as an important figure on the modern scene. All the same this is a delightful program, perfect for the spring inside of all of us waiting to bloom.

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