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Witold Lutosławski

Publisher: Chester Music

Mi-parti (1976)
Commissioned by the City of Amsterdam for the Concertgebouw Orchestra
Work Notes
Chester Music is the publisher of this work in all territories except Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, China, countries of the former Czechoslovakia, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Romania, Hungary and the whole territory of the former USSR, where the copyright is held by Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PWM).
Chester Music Ltd (Polish Works)
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
Witold Lutosławski Mi-parti (1976)

The title Mi-Parti (defined in the Quillet Dictionary as ‘comprising two parts which are equal but different’) refers not to the form of the piece but rather to the treatment of the musical content. The phrases are often composed of two parts, the second of which is a restatement of the first, with a new element. The first section of the work is based on a cycle of eight vertical complexes of twelve notes. In the course of the musical development this moves upwards in steps of minor seconds. The following section becomes more and more animated, as it leads to a climax. All movement stops on an icy ‘pianissimo’ chord played by the woodwind. Gradually, this iciness is thawed by successive entries of the solo violins. A cantilena of twelve violins playing ‘ ad libitum’ leads upwards and closes on a unison top C.

''For me, every new work is a new adventure, and everything in it is to some extent, although certain solutions, means and ways can, even must, be used again. One thing is certainly new for me here : a type of music where pastel sounds accompany the solo phrases. I don't remember using it in any other work.''

© Witold Lutoslawski

  • Ensemble
    Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra / Camerata Silesia
    Antoni Wit
  • Ensemble
    Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Witold Lutoslawski
  • Ensemble
    Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Witold Lutoslawski
  • Ensemble
    BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
    Yan Pascal Tortelier
Strings and winds exchange extremes of register. Sinuous climaxes precede provocative retreats. Sectional string clashes produce brass perorations. Soft washes of sound rub against violent outbursts. And the whole seemed generated organically, without an extraneous note. Yet with all the activity, the humanity and intelligence pervade the luminous textures. The introduction of the piano in the second part seems heaven-sent. Apocalyptic chords suggest imminent dissolution. But the celesta joins with the other percussion, swathing the strings for a final hopeful sob.
Allan Ulrich, The San Francisco Examiner,07/03/1991
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