Sonata for piano (perf. Véronique Briel)
Beginning in 1932, Lutosławski studied at
the Warsaw Conservatory. For five years he attended Witold Maliszewski’s
composition classes, studying piano with Jerzy Lefeld during the same period.
This was when he wrote his Sonata for piano, which testifies to the
compositional and pianistic talents of its composer, who wrote the piece with
himself in mind as its performer.
The three-part Sonata displays strong influences from Debussy and Ravel, composers whose art fascinated Lutosławski throughout his life. The most important features of the composition – its shimmering, nearly “impressionistic” sound and a tendency to overlapping parallel sound planes – expose its French origins. There are similar sources for the way its themes are treated – instead of transforming them, the composer shows them against different backgrounds, changing the colour of his thematic ideas without disturbing their structure (he would treat the theme from his Symphonic Variations in a similar manner in 1938).
Lutosławski’s individual style almost disappears in the Sonata under foreign influences – the impact of Rachmaninoff should also be included, a composer whose music Lutosławski otherwise detested). However, the composition reveals great inventiveness and the exceptional skill of its young composer. Shortly after it was written, Witold Maliszewski wrote that among students of the Warsaw Conservatory, Lutosławski was the most outstanding since the time of Chopin.