orchestration: violin and piano
year composed: 1992
about premiere
location: Indianapolis
date: IX 1994
edition: PWM, Chester Music
transcription by: Jerzy Kornowicz
orchestration: violin, harp and string orchestra
year composed: 2009

Subito for violin and piano was composed in 1992. It was commissioned by the World Life and Accident Corporation in Richmond, Indiana, as a compulsory piece in the program of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, at which it was first performed in September 1994 in succession by the 16 semi-finalists of the Competition on the principle of a multiple world premiere. The director of the competition, Joseph Gingold, turned to Witold Lutosławski with the suggestion of writing this composition. Although this series of world premieres took place after the death of the composer, the latter had acquainted himself with the real sound of this work through a recording made in 1993 by Krzysztof Jakowicz and Krystyna Borucińska for the Polish Radio.

This recording became the first factual performance of the composition, but it was made with the restriction that its public emission not be made before the end of the Competition in Indianapolis. The condition was respected by the Polish Radio, and the "embargo" imposed upon the making of the recording was not broken.

The place of Subito can be seen as a particular cross between a functional intention (the goal of which being a competition, it includes virtuosic elements and vigorous expressive gestures as show material) and a continued relationship with conceptions for other compositional projects, both past and (perhaps) present. In this lighthearted scherzo we have a type of "playful tease of the listener's expectations effected through sudden, unexpected twists and turns. The title ("suddenly") is suggestive of the mood of changeability that results from the frequent, abrupt changes of rhythm, dynamic, and mode of attack". We may also be dealing here with the first idea for the planned Violin Concerto, which remained a concept in the form of compositional sketches. As if in "standard" manner, the composer uses in this work his strategy of interchanging refrains and episodes; in reference to the idea of chain form, the lengthened episodes "consume" the time given to the refrains. In the fourth episode the upper-level form of the piece reaches a climactic point in an "ecstatic" (in the words of Charles Bodman Rae) or even "diabolical-Tartinian" trill.

ach / trans. mk