Lutoslawski: Orchestral Works 2 – review

Louis Lortie (piano), BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Gardner

"For me your work is ugly," Witold Lutoslawski's composition teacher at the Warsaw Conservatory told his student, then in his mid 20s. The work being condemned so comprehensively was his Symphonic Variations (1936-38), radical then perhaps, but which now sound lush and exuberant. It is one of four works in a survey of music by Lutoslawski (1913-94) in the expert hands of the BBCSO and Edward Gardner. Louis Lortie makes the most of the slightly underwhelming Piano Concerto (1987-88). The jaunty Variations on a Theme of Paganini (1978) – written within a year of Andrew Lloyd Webber's better-known version – and the Fourth Symphony (1988-92) give far more sense of this discreetly quixotic composer.


Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

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