- Chantefleurs et Chantefables (Songflowers and songfables), for soprano & orchestra
- Les espaces du sommeil, for baritone & orchestra
- Sleep, sleep, children's song for soprano & chamber orchestra
- Paroles tissées (Woven words), for tenor & 20 solo instruments
- Lacrimosa (fragment of a requiem), for soprano, chorus & orchestra (or organ)
- Silesian Triptych, for soprano & orchestra (collabration with Bryston)
This Chandos album featuring Edward Gardner leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra is an excellent introduction to the works for solo voice and orchestra that made up an important but sometimes overlooked part of Witold Lutoslawski's output. The earliest piece is a ravishing 1937 "Lacrimosa for soprano," the only surviving section of a projected requiem, that demonstrates the composer's mastery of intensely expressive post-Romantic lyricism and his gift for vocal writing. "Silesian Triptych," also for soprano and orchestra, was written in 1951, when the composer was subject to the demand for "Soviet realism" imposed by the forces occupying Poland. In his setting of these songs, based on simple folk tunes, Lutoslawski transcends stylistic constraints; this is clearly the work of an exceptional creative imagination, a major composer. The luminous end of the second song for instance, is so unexpected yet so utterly apt, so right, that it almost takes one's breath away. "Paroles tissées for tenor and orchestra" from 1965 is a work of the composer's maturity. His lyrical treatment of the voice combined with his expanded harmonic vocabulary and an even more refined orchestration create a hauntingly surreal and spare but approachable piece. "Les espaces du sommeil," written in 1975 for baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is acknowledged as one of his most distinguished works. One of the Lutoslawski's last compositions, "Chantefleurs et Chantefables for soprano and orchestra," is a suite of gentle, picturesque evocations of flowers and animals. Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra deliver assured, atmospheric performances of all the works, and soloists, soprano Lucy Crowe, tenor Toby Spence, and baritone Christopher Purves, are consistently first-rate, all singing with lovely, secure tone, and insightful understanding. Chandos' sound is clean and detailed.