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The latest release in Chandos’ fine Lutosławski series includes two works for solo piano and orchestra (the Paganini Variations is an arrangement commissioned by Felicia Blumenthal of Lutosławski’s original for two pianos and orchestra). The early orchestral Symphonic Variations (1936-38) shows a strong influence of Szymanowski and early Stravinsky. The Piano Concerto (written for Krystian Zimerman, who premiered it at the 1988 Salzburg Festival) is a fascinating, appealing work: it begins with typically Lutosławskian chattering from the orchestra. Lortie, sensitive to the score, is magnificently scurrying in the second movement, and Gardner is hyper-keen of response, too. Together, Lortie and Gardner convey the multitude of moods here, including the darkness of the third movement. Lortie’s skittering touch again enlivens the Paganini Variations, where Lutosławski’s entertaining, circus-like humour comes to the fore. Gardner impresses, too, eliciting some wonderful brass chord weighting. A wonderful disc.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing