Little Suite for chamber orchestra
Radio commissioned Lutosławski to write a piece in 1950 that would be rather
popular in its nature and based on Polish folklore. The composer referred to
traditional melodies from the Rzeszów region and used them as the basis of the Little
Suite. Accessible lightness was once again reconciled with artistry and
finesse, and another hit was added to the orchestral repertoire.
In the Suite, Lutosławski juxtaposed vigorous parts in the Hurra Polka and the Dance with a lyrical Song, preceding all of them with an introduction, Fife. This inconspicuous introduction deserves special attention.
The piccolo repeats a simple, bucolic melody with some slight varieties; it is discreetly seconded by a tremolo of the snare drum and string chords. The development of the “action” consists in gradual expansion of these chords to include new components lying lower and lower. Thus, a G–D fifth quickly changes into a G major chord that “swells” in turn, becoming an aggregate of four, five and finally six notes. Put together deliberately, the simplest components combine to create a charming whole, like in folk-art paper-cutting.
Impressed by this refined simplicity, conductor Grzegorz Fitelberg asked Lutosławski to make a transcription of the Suite for symphony orchestra. This version was made shortly after the Suite’s completion, in 1951.