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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Witold Lutoslawski, Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4, Jeux venitiens, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hannu Lintu

For some reason the music of Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) continues to surprise me with every new recording. Why? It is in part because he is a Modernist that fits into his own sound and personality and so is not easily categorized. He is an orginal. He is always inventive, has a brilliant orchestral sense and is not-at-all predictable.

Today I mention a disk devoted to three important orchestral works, his Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 (1947, 1992) and the ten-minute Jeux Venitiens (1961) (Ondine ODE 1320-5). The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu are the providers of this music and though I have another recording of the first I like quite well (reviewed here, type composer name in index box above right), this disk is extraordinarily dedicated to opening up the very personal worlds of these works in ways that could well be definitive.

The First Symphony is the more rabidly Modern, the more wild I suppose you could say. The Fourth is very expressive and somber, the more at times like the eerie "hop-hop...dein mutter ist tot" ending of Wozzeck as a kind of springboard. And that is not necessarily something the composer was thinking of but to me it shares that mysterious, tragic awe. Yet then it soars off of that launchpad to create megaliths of exploratorial ominosity. It is incredible music and in the end there is nothing quite like it.

Jeux Venitiens is mid-career (1961), stylistically in movement from the first to the forth. It serves very nicely to bridge the gap between the two aural worlds.

I must say that this is music any serious Modernist should prize. It is another look at what the Modern symphony can be and is! Highly recommended!

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