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).
The Polish title Przezrocza, translates literally as Slides (noun not verb), in the photographic sense of ‘transparencies’. We may interpret this partly in terms of the transparent, widely spaced sonorities produced, which are fully in keeping with Lutoslawski’s continuing refinement of harmony away form the more dense effects of his earlier work.
The piece is scored for eleven solo players: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, percussion, piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass. The percussion player replaces the role of a conductor, being positioned facing the ensemble in order to direct the performance through the aural signals composed into his part.
Slides was composed as a ‘pièce d’occasion’. Whereas several other tributes by Lutoslawski have been dedicated ‘in memoriam’, this piece was written as an eightieth birthday gesture for the American composer, Elliott Carter, born on 11 December 1908. It was first performed by the New York chamber ensemble, Speculum Musicae, at a birthday concert held in Carter’s honour at the Merkin Concert Hall, New York, on 1 December 1988.
© Charles Bodman Rae