Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994)

Symphony no. 3: Vivo - stesso movimento

“When you go before an orchestra, you need to have a clear idea in your mind – a sound-image – of what you are trying to achieve. And then you must realize it. When I start a movement, I know the shape of it from beginning to end. I am an architectural conductor” (Memoirs, 206). Solti’s detailed structural approach to learning a score doubtless served him well with Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 3. Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the work received its premiere on 29 September 1983 in Orchestra Hall. Lutosławski’s late works, of which this piece is representative, carry the marks of long-ripening creativity. Some of its material can be traced back to sketches generated in the 1970s when the composer was experimenting with dense textures as well as aleatory techniques inspired by Cage, while other compositional elements demonstrate a more recent concern with melody and harmonic transparency. The composer commented, “When composing this symphony I had constantly in mind the magnificent sound of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra whose recordings are still in my working room.” Lutosławski’s own sound-image for this piece was Solti’s orchestra.

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