miércoles, 30 de mayo de 2012

Second Listen - Lutoslawski - Concerto for Orchestra

Witold Lutoslawski - Concerto for Orchestra

Witold Lutoslawski was a polish composer, he was born on the 25th of january 1913 and died on the 7th of February 1994. He was one of the most important composers of the XX century. His style took a lot of Bartok's and Schoenberg's music. Something that made him unique is that, although he took things from this composers, at the same time he didnt aply them in the same way, but he understood this things on his own point of view and adapted them to new sound worlds, and, of course, he had an own vision of music and made quite an own style, adding new elements, as well. And, by the way, although it might not matter to most of the readers, I think this composer is the greatest after Bach.

This piece was written between the years 1950 and 1954 after a request made by Witold Rowicki, who was the conducter of Varsovia Philharmonic, at that time. The folkloric feeling is quite strong on this piece, and according to many, represents a peak on Lutoslawski's folkloric style.

Something distinctive on the style that is present on this concert is that, although there are folkloric melodies, in many moments they are accompanied with atonal contexts, also, we can see some barroque elements, which are the form of the movements, as you can see on their titles.

This concert is divided in three movements: 1 - Intrada; 2 - Capriccio, Notturno e Arioso; 3 - Passacaglia, Toccata e Corale.

The next presented analisys is an extract from "An investigation of Periodicity in Music, with reference to three twentieth-century compositions: Bartok's Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta, Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra,  and Ligeti's Chamber Concerto". By MOUNTAIN, ROSEMARY - Victoria University - Canada:

1 - Intrada

The first movement, is an ABA form. The A sections are fugues, generally with no divisions, with the exceptions of the intrance of the voices. The horns play a periodic figuration, but which is disonant with the rest of the orchestra, although not so notorious. B sections starts at around 1'25'' when we hear a big explosion in which a long crescendo rests.

B section is much more complex and responds to a form abcabca which is repited three times, but in each repetition it presents little changes and the duration is allways being altered. There are contrasts among the sub-section of B, which consists in density of attack of the notes, changes on the duration of the periods, and the levels of the rhythmic dissonance. Also, the repetition of entire sub-section create the expectation of parallel structures, which allows the listener to anticipate conections.

2 - Capriccio, Notturno e Arioso

This movement has several sections, and the form is a basic AABA. Both sections involve several sub-sections, but A section is much more segmented, while B is unified by the presense of a slow melodic theme. A sections involve repetitions of elements in several levels, from 16ths notes to long sections.

3 - Passacaglia, Toccata e Corale

The beginning of the passacaglia doesnt present a very disctinc difference with the end of the previous movement, neither in registry nor in dynamics. The fact of that the last not of the second movement, and the first of the third are bot pizzicato on the double basses, denotes that this lack of contrast is delibered. As for the union between these two movements is created by the lack of tension, passacaglia's theme remains on a very low density for the first eight bars. The passacaglia clearly presents a high degree of activity, not only in little scale, but also on big. This sections ends in a very low level of energy, as well on time density as in dynamics. 

The passacaglia is very well defined, presenting an ostinato theme in the double basses at first and then repeating it constantly, only changing its pitch, going higher and higher, as well as changing the instrumentation. The variations that occurs above this ostinato are very distant from it, even in some moments there are sections where the time doesnt seem to be the same, and towards the end of the section, the ostinato gets more and more evident, until it is on the forefront. 

After comes toccata which starts with a big explosion. We can notice that this section is notably different to the previous passacaglia, here the melody takes another direction, and we can see the typical form of the barroque toccatas.

For the ending, the choral is presented in counterpoint with other lyrical theme of a fast movement, which is accompanied by complex textures that are constantly increasing. Due to this strcuture the prhase is higly redundant in each one of both themes, and in a measured relation between each other, disonnances seems to be soft. This sections lasts a bit more than a minute and half in its first exposition, the prhase is repeated three times, with a little adde extension in each one of these three repetitions. Once again, towards the end of the piece this choral appears again, but now the extension isn't as important as before, and the background is much more complex than before, instead of the secondary theme.

Rosemary Mountain's text:

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