Lutosławski: Symphonies – No 1 (1947); No 4 (1992); Jeux vénitiens (1961)

Reviewed on Mon 18 Feb, 2019

Hannu Lintu does Lutosławski absolutely proud, securing playing of painstaking polish, infectious commitment and impressive sheen from his Finnish RSO forces.

Written between 1941 and 1947, Witold Lutosławski's strongly communicative and impressively concise First Symphony makes quite a splash in this admirable new recording from Helsinki. The composer cited Albert Roussel as a major early influence, and it's not hard to detect the example of the Frenchman's magnificent Third Symphony of 1930 (both works can boast a particularly powerful and emotionally intense slow movement). Hannu Lintu does the piece absolutely proud, securing playing of painstaking polish, infectious commitment and impressive sheen from his Finnish RSO forces. It's followed by comparably lucid, scrupulously prepared readings of the deftly aleatoric Jeux vénitiens and the swansong, one-movement Fourth Symphony, the latter every bit the interpretative equal of Esa-Pekka Salonen's pioneering version with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Sony. Excellent booklet-notes courtesy of Kimmo Korhonen and demonstration-worthy SACD sonics. As should be abundantly clear by now, this is a very fine issue indeed. Fingers crossed for a companion release containing Lutosławski's Second and Third symphonies.
–Andrew Achenbach