TAKEMITSU: And Then I Knew 'Twas Wind. Rain Tree. Toward the Sea. Bryce.
Itinerant. Voice. Air. Rain Spell.
LUTOSLAWSKI: Dance Preludes for Clarinet and
Orchestra. Double Concerto for Oboe, Harp and Chamber Orchestra.
Grave (Metamorphoses for Cello and String Orchestra). Chain
I for 14 Performers. Two Children's Songs for Voice and
Chamber Orchestra (The Belated Nightingale/About Mr. Tralalinski). Six
Children's Songs for Voice and Instruments (Dance/The Four
Seasons/Kitten/Grzes is going through the village/A Brook/The Bird's
For background on, and my detailed admiration of both composers
as the two finest in the second half of the 20th century, please consult
the index of past reviews on both. Here we have new additions from Naxos,
although Lutoslawski Vol. 8 is a disappointment in that series
to date. The recorded sound is regressively flat—in your
face and coarse-sounding—while
solo playing in the five Dance Preludes of 1954-55 for clarinet, and
the Double Concerto for Oboe and Harp of 1980 (for Heinz and Ursula Holliger)
lacks personality as well as individualized charm. Both can be heard
to greatly better advantage in Philips’ two-disc reissue called “The
Essential Lutoslawski,” conducted by the composer and Witold Rowicki.
The Holligers also teamed with Michael Gielen and the Cincinnati Symphony
Orchestra 20 years ago for a recording reissued in a VoxBox that also
included three works of Richard Strauss and two by Berg, including the
Lulu- Suite sung by Kathleen Battle that I was looking for but had misfiled
and couldn’t find when I wrote about Simon Rattle’s EMI reissue
last month (all on CDX 5136, if you can track it down in second-hand
stores or on-line). It deserves to be remastered and reissued, not that
the 1995 re- recording is deficient, but I’ll bet it can be made
to sound as new as yesterday.