. . . thrilling . . . bristles with the Polish composer's love of virtuosity, brilliantly lit chamber-music textures and orchestral climaxes of the utmost density and power. Zimerman revels in the tailor-made solo part, with its delicate filigree in the many ad lib passages . . . [the symphony] could hardly be better played and conducted today.
. . . as this new recording makes clearer than ever, it is a work very much conceived in the great concerto tradition, constantly questioning and reassessing the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra. That relationship is constantly probed by Zimerman and Simon Rattle too; the Berlin Philharmonic's realisation of the flickering, glinting orchestral writing is just as meticulously detailed as the jewel-like precision of the piano playing. Together they make this new recording a glorious affirmation of the place of Lutoslawski's work in the concerto canon . . .
. . . stunning . . . [for all the value of Zimerman's previous version of the Piano Concerto,] this one with Rattle is a compelling and rewarding adventure, glorious, perceptive and dedicated music-making that has been vividly recorded, as delicate and as powerful as the score demands, and with a realistic balance that gives the orchestra as much billing as the piano . . . [Lutoslawski's Second Symphony makes for riveting listening,] as Simon Rattle and the Berliners fabulously demonstrate.
. . . [Piano Concerto]: the hall's acoustics respond beautifully to the mellow, floating textures. Lutoslawski often writes quiet music, but with such detail that every nuance needs to be heard. Every nuance is heard here, and the effect is spectacular. The piano is always apparent across the orchestra, even when their respective textures call its dominance into question. Of course, Lutoslawski knows what he is doing, and no doubt he is relying on Zimerman's always clear articulation and touch to project the piano's lines . . . The Berlin Philharmonic sound is ideal here, not only for the sheer elegance the orchestra displays, but also for the details that it is able to project, again aided by the excellent audio . . . this Zimerman/Rattle collaboration comes highly recommended. Whatever this mercurial pianist's motivations for returning to the concerto, we should all be glad he did.
. . . remarkable, with moments of sublime beauty . . .
. . . outstanding . . . [Zimerman virtually owns the "Piano Concerto":] he premiered it and recorded it with the composer conducting. Here he finds an even greater profundity.
. . . [Zimerman plays the Piano Concerto] with undimmed crystalline precision . . . Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmonic are inspiring interpreters and the music takes wing.
This recording of Lutoslawski's Piano Concerto is stunning and definitive . . . The concerto is a dazzling showpiece for both soloist and orchestra, brilliantly played here and the detailed recording captures all of the complex interplay between soloist and ensemble . . . [Symphony no. 2]: a magnificent performance . . . This is a major release.
. . . [Zimerman's performances of the Piano Concerto] mix complete authority with fresh, questing spirit, as if he were laying out the notes for the first time . . . Zimerman injects both delicacy and virtuosity into the dialogue with Simon Rattle's orchestra, and also holds the key, as probably only a Pole could do, to the serious yet wistful undercurrents of this work . . . Rattle's own input is distinguished . . . he conducts this with a similar ecstatic beauty . . . [the Symphony no. 2 is] a work of warmth, and who better to summon up that than the luxurious-sounding Berliners?
. . . [Zimerman is the most stylish and experienced exponent of Lutslawski's Piano Concerto] . . . Partnered with exemplary polish and unstinting dedication by Rattle and the Berliners, Zimerman is at his patrician, dazzlingly articulate best, locating even greater reserves of concentration and rapt hush than previously in the slow movement (where his sublime touch and gorgeous cantabile tone remain things of wonder), while the thrusting momentum and thrilling sense of purpose he and Rattle bring to the chaconne finale make for a giddy culmination . . . a marvellously invigorating and fabulously accomplished reading . . . [Symphony no. 2 is] delivered with riveting technical mastery here, and, to my ears at any rate, Rattle paces its fretful progress with an even keener sense of direction and unerring proportion . . . A very fine issue.
A brilliant modern piano concerto from a Polish master . . . It combines the folk-like melodies of his earlier period with the modernism of his best avant-garde works. The opening section has a delicate playfulness that is ingratiating. The second movement has a darker pall, frisky but with a touch of warning that is theatrically potent . . . The final movement is a dramatic and lyrical tour de force between piano and orchestra, reminiscent of the final movement of Rachmaninoff's "Third Piano Concerto", but with the pizazz of modernism that's nothing less than thrilling. Pianist Krystian Zimmerman is nuanced and technically brilliant, and the recording is clear but resonant. This is a wonderful modern piano concerto that deserves more performances than it receives. Bravo!
Symphony No. 2, an absorbing and powerful piece, is played with total conviction by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic . . . [Piano Concerto no. 2]: With its moments of exceptional beauty, passionate outbursts, and multiple opportunities for the soloist to show off, this concerto is one of Lutoslawski's greatest works and a piece that should be in the repertoire of all major pianists.
. . . [the first-rate playing by the Berliner Philharmoniker] comes as no surprise, but this is among Rattle's finest efforts on disc . . . Zimerman makes the Largo an intimate monologue, its meandering thoughts united by the pianist's conscientious attention to the easily-overlooked flow of thematic material. Zimerman and Rattle collaborate in a performance of the Concerto's concluding Presto that crackles with energy and inspiration. Zimerman's response to a score of which he was the first interpreter has intensified without losing any of its crucial novelty, and he and his colleagues on this recording offer an account of the Concerto that both sounds utterly 'new' and verifies the score's eminent place in the piano's concert literature. Rattle's and the Berliner Philharmoniker's performance of Lutoslawski's Second Symphony is a model of a live recording. As sure as is Rattle's grip on the Piano Concerto, his pacing of the Symphony finds him on even more confident footing, virtually every detail of Lutoslawski's music receiving from his stable but stirring advocacy attention and comprehension . . . In this performance, Rattle channels his still-volatile energy into a profound realization of the rhythmic and harmonic details of Lutoslawski's score. In the contexts of both the Piano Concerto and the Second Symphony, this disc is one of the finest recorded achievements of Rattle's tenure at the helm of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Mesmerising brilliance from Zimerman.
Lutoslawski receives deluxe treatment here, yielding significant perceptual advances. What was once mysterious or even obscure is now music of wonder in the 1988 Piano Concerto, especially in Zimerman's hands . . . [and the aleatoric Symphony No 2 is transformed by Sir Simon Rattle] into something blazingly audacious.
. . . [Zimerman's wondrously supple second recording of the Lutoslawski Piano Concerto] confirms the composer's work as one of the great piano concertos of the 20th century, while alongside it Simon Rattle's live recording of the Second Symphony is as vivid and dramatic as anyone could want.
It's no exaggeration to claim that this new reading is superior on virtually every level to his earlier effort, and in Simon Rattle he has a conductor who is an ideal partner . . . The new recording is slightly more distant but very natural, and the integration with the orchestra couldn't be better. The Berlin Philharmonic excels throughout with the many woodwind solos beautifully played . . . The percussion is particularly noteworthy in the passacaglia finale, as are the deep, resonant double basses at the beginning of the movement. This will now be the recording of Lutosławski's concerto I will return to most often . . . I have nothing but praise for this new benchmark recording of the Piano Concerto . . .
As in the premiere recording Zimerman made with the composer himself, there is no detail of dynamic shading, no delicate cross-rhythm, no internal accent or textural subtlety which escapes his attention, yet everything is managed with an unaffected ease and naturalness that never loses sight of the grand sweep -- and many grand gestures -- of the piece . . . Rattle's interpretation seems to come from someone who has apparently internalized the music as thoroughly as the soloist has . . . they speak the newer work's often thorny language and iron out its difficulties as though they didn't exist . . . Rattle's more sensitive and richly various contribution allows Zimerman to demonstrate how thoroughly he has relaxed into the piece. The live performance of Lutoslawski's Symphony No. 2 is no less impressive . . . Rattle and the orchestra dispatch it with a nonchalant ease . . .
One can marvel at the composer's craftsmanship and Zimerman's gossamer touch . . . Zimerman achieves something close to perfection, and in beautiful, clear sound recorded in the Berlin Philharmonie . . . this new release is exemplary.