Lutoslawski's Too Wild for Words

Symphony Review: Sublime opener launches Mozaic
James Cushing, San Luis Obispo Tribune, July 19th, 2010

See, Dallas Morning News, this is how you do a review title for a festival.

Whether you think of it as Festival Mozaic or The San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, 2010 marks the 40th year of this annual bounty.

Way to go Fesitval Mozart Festival guys. 40 years is a lot!

If Thursday’s sublime opening concert was any indication, this summer might be the most adventurous music festival in recent memory.

Sublime adventure? Interesting. What's on the concert?

Two ambitious chamber works by Rachmaninoff and a wild ride by Polish modernist Witold Lutoslawski left the opening night’s near-capacity audience at the Cuesta College Cultural and Performing Arts Center with a lot to think about and feel grateful for.

Ooh. I love Lutoslawski. And it's wild! How very exciting.

figure festival patron: A motorcar Lutoslawski. Gad! What have I been missing.

We’ve come to expect intelligent programming from Music Director Scott Yoo,...


The piece, scored for piano, violin and cello,...


Cellist Trevor Handy, familiar to Festival Mozaic audiences,...

Uh-huh. [skimming some more...]

In the last movement,...

Last? Well, that means we're surely getting close now...I can feel it.

figure lutoslawski: Mr. Toad's wild ride.

The second half of the concert explored the two-piano repertoire with Rachmaninoff’s “Suite No. 2 in C major” and Lutoslawski’s wild Paganini variations.

Wild, yes. And...?

The 1901 suite is structured symphonically and maintains an optimistic mood in contrast to the dark sorrows of the trio. The second movement,...


...a waltz, sped along as brightly as it does under the hands of Argerich and Meyer in their celebrated recording.

Surely, the last paragraph will mention something about the wildness of Lutoslawski.

The concert was sponsored by Ron and Ann Alers. The festival continues through Sunday.

Fine. Whatever. I'm sure there's nothing interesting about that piece--like that it was originally composed in 1941 in Nazi-occupied Poland for performance in bars and caf├ęs as a means of financial survival. Or that it's a variation on the last of the famous 24 Caprices by Paganini for unaccompanied violin -- the piece that probably originated the legend of Paganini's deal with the Devil -- which also served as the basis for musical treatments by composers such as Schumann, Brahms, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Szymanowski, and even Andrew Lloyd-freakin'-Webber.

I agree. Wholly uninteresting.

embeddence paganini variations: Witold's Wild Ride.


Empiricus said...

I saw this one, too. I thought maybe I'd give the folks at the San Luis Obispo Trib a free pass this one time.

That said, this review was extremely disappointing. I mean, it read something like this: "I know how to talk about Rach [Rach being technical, in-the-know, experty jargon], but not so much about other things, like arranging, appropriation, borrowing, what have you. Anyway, if I use up my word count, maybe nobody will notice if I omit the things that I was obligated to talk about."

Well, sir, I'm glad you noticed and, I'm sure, Mr. Toad was, too.

Anonymous said...

You like Paganini?
Cziffra playing Brahms (crazy)
Wrong notes in the Witold are funny!

Sator Arepo said...

Not just obligated to talk about, but promised, pretty much, in the beginning of the article.

Lutoslawski gone wild? Did...did he take off his shirt? Or what?

AnthonyS said...

I did not know this piece; thanks for the Utubeage. Very cool.

"I feel as if I had been through something very exciting and rather terrible, and it was just over; and yet nothing particular has happened."

from The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame.

Sometimes I feel like this after concerts.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Snoop Dogg could promo the Composers Gone Wild video series on late night infomercials.