They are connected by Paganini..
That is it!
It might at first seem a far-fetched parallel, as both used the same Pagannini Caprice as a daparture point for sets of variations. Brahms did the same, as well as Liszt (though he actually recast the work as an Etude), but neither can connect to Rachmaninov.
Of course we all know (or if we do not, we ought
) Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme by Pagannini, which he wrote in 1934, and a very enjoyable work it is too. The Lutoslawski I have known for many years in its 1941 original version for two pianos (written to be played together with the composer Sir Andrew Panufnik), which is good in its way, though a bit bangy here and there. What I did not know is that Lutoslawski transcribed it in the '70s for piano and orchestra and I happened to hear this version the other day and all the bangs made sense and all "modernity" vanished.
Besides the obvious fact the theme is the same, I could not help feeling the Lutoslwaski could well have been an extra set of variations by Rachmaninov.
Considering Poland was cut off from the civilised world in 1939, meaning there were only five years between which Rachmaninov's work could travel, I would say it very improbable that one was aware of the other's work.
Has anyone else noticed this?