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LUTOSŁAWSKI Orchestral Works III

Mała suita / Cello Concerto / Symphony No. 2 / Grave

Paul Watkins (cello) BBC Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner

Chandos CHSA 5106

During his lifetime I tried to hear every new work by Witold Lutoslawski.

They were often conducted by the composer himself (his last appearance as featured composer at the Royal Academy of Music, too unwell to conduct, is well remembered).

The Hesitant-Direct second symphony was, and remains, difficult, so it is good to have on disc this new multi-miked studio account, excellently engineered and which I have no reason to doubt is authentic, troubling though the music remains for listening.

The cello concerto has become clearer and is well annotated for us by Lutoslawski specialist Adrian Thomas, who also stresses how Grave is built from the first four notes of Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande and how the "nationalistic" 1950 suite provided colour in "the drab world of socialist-realist culture".

Next February the Royal College of Music will be celebrating Lutoslawski's centenary.

Hopefully, this important Chandos series of the symphonies will be brought together as a boxed set in due course?

Peter Grahame Woolf