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Penderecki

Penderecki 1933 - 2020

Krzysztof Penderecki 1933-2020.The classical world has lost a great composer, and Poland is mourning one of its most passionate music educators and cultural ambassadors. Penderecki composed several of his most important works in remembrance of catastrophes in the 20th century, most famously his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. His concerto for piano Resurrection was written as a reaction to the terror attacks of 11 September 2001.
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Image PENDERECKI: St. Luke Passion
Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)

St Luke Passion


Surprising as it now seems, the appearance in 1962 of theStabat Mater by Krysztof Penderecki caused something of a furore in avant-gardemusic circles. Coming after radical orchestral works such as Threnody for theVictims of Hiroshima (1961) and Fluorescences (1962) [both Naxos 8.554491], thestark simplicity and emotional directness of the choral piece led, not for thelast time in the composer's career, to accusations of being reactionary andturning his back on musical progress. Four decades on, the Stabat Mater canclearly be seen as initiating the consolidation and synthesis that Pendereckiwas to pursue thereafter, to varying degrees and on different levels.


It is also worth bearing in mind Penderecki's stance, as aprogressive composer in the conformist environment of post-Stalinist Poland,and as a devout Catholic in a nominally atheist society. The Stabat Mater wasamong the first open expressions of faith in Poland since the Second World War,and Penderecki did not hesitate to incorporate it into a more comprehensiveexpression of his faith when the opportunity arose. In 1964 West German Radiocommissioned a large-scale choral work to commemorate the seven hundredthanniversary of the consecration of Munster Cathedral: the Passio et mors Domininostri Iesu Christi secundum Lucam, to give the St Luke Passion its full Latintitle, was the outcome. That the year of its premi?¿re on 30th March 1966 alsomarked the thousandth anniversary of the introduction of Christianity intoPoland, is a fact of which Penderecki must have been well aware.


Scored for soprano, baritone and bass soloists, narrator,chorus, boys' chorus and orchestra, the St Luke Passion takes as it model thePassions of Bach: the events leading up to the Crucifixion related in an ongoingsequence of narratives, arias and choruses, with the narrator taking the r??leof the Evangelist, and the solo singers assuming those of Christ, Peter, Pilateand other biblical figures as necessary. The text supplements Luke's gospelwith a range of extracts from psalms, hymns and antiphons, giving the narrativean emotional force it might otherwise lack. Moreover the diversity of choraland orchestral techniques employed was to prove paradigmatic for the successionof choral works Penderecki has since composed, Dies irae (1967), Kosmagonia(1970), Utrenja (1971), Magnificat (1973), Te Deum (1979), Polish Requiem(1984), Seven Gates of Jerusalem (1996) and Credo (1998).


Part I opens with choir, organ and orchestra defiantlysounding out 'O Crux' at the start of Hymnus [1], sub-divided, microtonal andchanted choral writing contributing to the supplicatory feel. The narratordescribes Christ's coming down from the Mount of Olives in Et egressus [2], andthe bass expands on his dread in the aria Deus meus [3]. The sopranointensifies the anxiety in the aria Domine, quis habitabit [4], complemented byfebrile flute and brass, then lower strings and brass graphically depict thebetrayal and taking of Jesus, expounded by baritone and narrator at Adhuc eoloquente [5]. Solemn choral settings from Lamentations at Ierusalem [6], andPsalms at Ut quid, Domine [7], presage Peter's denial at Comprehendentes autem [8].After an aria of entreaty to the Lord, Iudica me, Domine [9], the mockingbefore the High Priest is vividly introduced by rushing strings and woodwind,and depicted by rasping chorus at Et viri, qui tenebant illum [10]. The sopranonow plangently recalls the imploration to Ierusalem [11], while the choruslooks for mercy in an impassioned Miserere mei, Deus [12]. Part I ends with thescene of Jesus before Pilot at Et surgens omnis [13], narrator, baritone andchorus underpinned by striking orchestration to powerfully dramatic effect.


Part II opens with a sombre choral depiction of the Way ofthe Cross to Golgotha at In pulverem mortis [14], joined by the narrator at Etbaiulens sibi crucem [15], before the sustained passacaglia of Popule meus [16],an emotional highpoint of the Passion and a telling example of Penderecki'sdeployment of advanced musical techniques to elicit timeless expression. TheCrucifixion is simply and movingly depicted at Ibi crucifixerunt eum [17], thenunfolded in searching terms by soprano in the aria Crux fidelis [18]. Christ'sforgiveness is noted at Dividentes vero [19], then the chorus vividly imaginesthe humiliation of the body in an extended setting of In pulverem mortis [20].The mocking of Christ on the Cross is depicted in suitably harsh terms at Etstabat populus [21], then the bass and baritone recall the contrasting responsesof the thieves at Unus autem [22] Christ's entreaty to the three Marys atStabant autem [23] prepares for the extended unaccompanied setting of StabatMater [24] an expressive and musical distillation of the emotional chargepervading the whole work. The Death of Christ is summarily depicted at Eratautem fere hora sexta [25], then apostrophized in moving orchestral terms [26],before the Passion draws to a conclusion with In Te, Domine, speravi [27],soloists, chorus and orchestra joining in a powerful call for deliverance andredemption.


Richard Whitehouse



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Image PENDERECKI: A Polish Requiem
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Image PENDERECKI: Symphony No. 3 / Threnody
Krzysztof Penderecki(b.1933)


Orchestral Works Vol.

1


Symphony No. 3;Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima for 52 Strings


Fluorescences fororchestra; De Natura Sonoris II for Orchestra



Penderecki was born in Dubica, a small town in Poland between Cracow andL'vov, and studied at Cracow Academy of Music and the Jagiellonian University.

He first showed himself to be a composer of enormous talent and boldimagination at the Warsaw Autumn Festivals of 1959 and 1960.



Penderecki quickly became part of the European avant-garde, achievingfame with his Threnody (1960) and a number of other pieces, in which heimparted a keen expressivity to his then 'sonorist' musical language. The StLuke Passion (1963-5) proved how successful this expressive sonorism couldbe in sacred music. He continued to be as inspired by timeless religious themesas by humanism. His cantatas, oratorios and dramatic compositions, performedall around the world, include Dies Irae (1967), Devils of Loudun (1969),Cosmogony (1970), Utrenya (1970-71), Canticum Canticorum (1973)and Magnificat (1974).



Looking back, Penderecki explained his great stylistic shift: 'Theavant-garde gave one an illusion of universalism. The musical world ofStockhausen, Nono, Boulez and Cage was for us, the young - hemmed in by theaesthetics of socialist realism, then the official canon in our country - aliberation. It opened a new reality, a new vision of art and of the world. Iwas quick to realise, however, that this novelty, this experimentation andformal speculation, is more destructive than constructive; I realised the Utopian quality of itsPromethean tone. I was saved from the avant-garde snare of formalism by areturn to tradition' (1993).



In the mid-1970s, this involvement with tradition became deeper, whenPenderecki entered into a dialogue with music he 'rediscovered' for himself. Heinternalised the post-Romantic tradition and combined it with the technicalachievements of his earlier music. Major works written in this new style soonfollowed: concertos for violin (1976), cello (1982) and viola (1983), SymphonyNo. 2 'Christmas' (1980), the opera Paradise Lost (1978), TeDeum (1980) and Polish Requiem (1980-84).



Further formal and stylistic investigations led Penderecki to foreswearpost-Romanticism, in favour of a new approach to the synthesis of the modernwith the traditional. This inspired operas of such stylistic diversity as theexpressionist Black Mask (1986) and the post-modern Ubu Rex (1991).

The composer advocated the need for 'unifying all that has been' to create asynthetic and universal language. 'What I have been doing,' he said in aninterview of 1997, 'has been to collect and to transform the experience of theentire century.' Compositions drawing on this new musical aesthetic included SymphoniesNos. 3 (1988-95), 4 (1989) and 5 (1992); concertos for flute (1993) and violin(No. 2, 1995) and, most importantly, the oratorios Seven Gates of Jerusalem (1996)and Credo (1998). This last synthesis is associated with a condensedexpression and a limited, purified array of technical means. 'Today, havinggone through the post-Romantic lesson, and having exhausted the potential ofpostmodern thinking, I see my artistic ideal in 'claritas' (1997).



The appearance of Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshimo was amajor event. The piece contained previously unheard means of powerfulexpression - explosive and liberating. By employing both known and unknownmodes of articulation, Penderecki made strings sound akin to percussion andwind. He drew on two contrasting compositional techniques: the extreme freedomof aleatoricism and the exacting one of serialism.



The series of sonorist events opens unexpectedly with a poignant cry inthe highest possible register. It ushers in an orgy of hissing, 'noise' andrasps, played in all possible ways. The music intensifies with series ofclusters, subdued at first, then glissando aggressive and rising. Aftera while, they recede before a sequence of pointillistically-scattered soundswhich, despite sounding improvised, are intricately woven into a 36-voicecanon. The streams of clusters return, rising to the full 52 voices - first ina cry, then dying down to pppp.



'I had written this piece,' the composer once reminisced, 'and I namedit, much as in Cage's manner, 8'37". But it existed only in myimagination, in a somewhat abstract way. When Ian Krenz recorded it and I couldlisten to an actual performance, I was struck with the emotional charge of thework. I thought it would be a waste to condemn it to such anonymity, to those'digits'. I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims' (1994).



Fluorescences for orchestra (1961) was written a year after Threnodyand almost immediately after Polymorphia, as a continuation of hisexperiments with sound. Yet in Fluorescences he goes towards - evenbeyond - the boundaries of sonorism' s potential. He did this in two ways:first, he augmented his forces to a full orchestra, with quadruple wind andbrass and, above all a percussion section of vast dimensions: 32 instrumentsfor six players. Secondly, he expanded the repertoire of the orchestra with aseries of 'instruments' worthy of a Hieronymus Bosch. Unconventional ways ofplaying conventional instruments, such as the percussive use of strings,playing the interior of the piano or mouthpieces, were evidently not enough forPenderecki. He thus employed instruments such as an alarm siren and flexatone,pieces of wood, tin and glass, Swiss cowbells, Mexican guiros, Javanese gongs anda typewriter. One might say that Penderecki penetrated beyond the sphere ofmusical 'sound', into that of purely acoustic phenomena known from the modernworld at large.



Listening to Fluorescencesis a fascinating adventure. At first, one is shocked by the explosion ofsound described by W. Schwinger as 'radically cruel' (1994). Their expressiveforce is heightened by a use of extreme dynamic contrasts as well as of colour.

One is soon drawn into the endless display of sonorist snapshots, much in the mannerof 'avant la lettre' video clips. The greatest surprise comes towards thepiece's apex: the orgy of sound, more akin to chaos than music, recedes beforea single note - a pure C, presented by all instruments and in all possibleways. The coda reverts to the previous variety of sound.



Penderecki composed Fluorescencesfor the Donaueschingen Contemporary Music Festival of 1962. Itsperformance, by the South-West German Radio Symphony Orchestra under HansRosbaud, was received as an artistic provocation, which might have been theexact function of the work. As the composer wrote in the concert programme: 'Inthis composition, all I'm interested in is liberating sound beyond alltradition' (1962).



De Natura SonorisII for orchestra (1971), anorchestra miniature, alludes to apiece written five years before, De NaturaSonoris I (1966), though it is wholly different. It takes a restrainedapproach towards pure-sound experimentation, with an aloofness from easy andcrude effects. Written for a notably limited orchestra - no woodwind ortrumpets, few percussion - it seems to favour subtler tones and colours. Whileits predecessor seems to be painted with sound, a somewhat lurid 'still life',the second could be described as a 'sonorist narration'.
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Image PENDERECKI: Symphony No. 8 / Dies irae / Aus den P
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Image PENDERECKI: Sextet / Clarinet Quartet / Cello Dive
Krzysztof Penderecki (b.1933)

Chamber Music


Chamber music has featured intermittently in the output ofKrzysztof Penderecki. Born in Krakow in 1933, he was an accomplished violinistas a student, and a Sonata for Violin and Piano from 1953 was finally publishedsome four decades later. He wrote numerous works for small instrumentalensembles up until the First String Quartet of 1960. Thereafter, with theexception of a Second String Quartet in 1969, the emphasis was firmly onoperatic, choral and orchestral works. Chamber composition was restricted toshort 'homages' to friends and musicians until, in the 1990s, he returned tothe medium in earnest. Apart from the virtuosic String Trio (1992), the presentdisc features the two most significant chamber works of that decade, as well asseveral shorter pieces from either end of the composer's career, which placehis approach to instrumental writing in context.


Written for clarinet, horn, violin, viola, cello and piano,the Sextet (2000), in two contrasting movements, is Penderecki's mostsubstantial chamber work to date. The first movement opens understatedly, as,over tramping piano, the other instruments introduce a number of salient motifswith a Shostakovich-like ironic tinge. The music gathers rhythmic momentum,twice interrupted by cello and horn with a more expressive idea, the secondtime leading to a return of the tramping motion. This draws the instrumentsinto a fearsome whirling motion, presaging the most intensive instrumentalinterplay yet heard. From here, the music drives to a forceful and decisiveending. The second movement opens with sonorous, elegiac music for the stringsover a rhetorical-sounding piano. The clarinet enters with an unwinding melodyline, and the music settles into a mood of pensive melancholy, clarinet andhorn carrying the brunt of the melodic writing. Dramatic intensity ismaintained through some typically Pendereckian 'stepwise' chromatic ascents,while several brief but jagged climaxes undermine the mood of regret. Graduallythe expression becomes more animated and ironic, making the cello's impassionedthrenody, taken up by viola and then clarinet, all the more heartfelt. Fromhere the music draws itself out in a conclusion of sombre, even funerealintensity, becoming increasingly spare and inward as the final bars arereached.


First given in L??beck in August 1993, the Clarinet Quartetis both more concise and more succinct in expression. In the preludialNotturno: Adagio, the solo clarinet introduces the main melodic material in theopening bars, with cello, viola and violin almost an atmospheric backdrop.After a pause the Scherzo: Vivacissimo opens with aggressive repeated patternsin the strings, provoking a strident response from the clarinet. The process isrepeated, before moving straight into the brief Serenade: Tempo di Valse, withits lightly ironic gait. The motion stills, and the finale begins. MarkedAbschied: Larghetto, this is as long as the previous movements combined,another example of the sustained elegies that feature prominently inPenderecki's later output. Strings open up a wide harmonic space in which theclarinet musingly pursues its melodic line. A single cello pizzicato rufflesthe prolonged fade-out.


Composed in 1956, while Penderecki was still a student atKrakow University, the Three Miniatures for Clarinet and Piano give little hintof the radical features the composer was soon to introduce into his music.Indeed, the influence of Bartok is a reminder that the Dance Preludes (1954) byWitold Lutoslawski were then current in Polish new music. The Allegro openswith lively piano writing, with which the clarinet pursues an engagingdiscourse. There follows a plaintive Andante cantabile which wanders towards aquestioning pause, from which the closing Allegro ma non troppo launches itselfin a vigorous and decisive rounding-off of the sequence.


Written for and dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich, theDivertimento for Solo Cello (1994) honours a creative association going backover two decades, including the notable premi?¿re of the Second Cello Concertoin 1982. After a nobly-wrought prelude, the scherzo is of a capricious nature,with much use of pizzicato and col legno, playing with the wood of the bow, inthe writing. There follows a strenuous toccata, Penderecki's distinctivechromatic writing allied to cello playing of bracing virtuosity. Anintrospective yet intense elegy concludes this wide-ranging portrait of a greatartist.


A precis of Penderecki's melodic expression, the Prelude forSolo Clarinet, written in 1987 as a fortieth birthday tribute to the Britishcomposer Paul Patterson, takes the B flat instrument on a thoughtful journeywhich remains true to the Lento sostenuto marking at the beginning of thescore.

Composed in 1959, just before the start of his internationalcareer, the Three Miniatures for Violin and Piano suggest the influence ofWebern in their concision, expressive intensity and dynamic subtlety. No. 1contrasts detached piano chords with extended violin techniques, No. 2 is a fracturedviolin solo, while No. 3 goes some way towards reconciling the instruments in adialogue of often unpredictable contrasts. Although wholly abstract in theirmusical import, each piece is intriguingly prefaced in the score with a poemfrom Jerzy Harasymowicz's cycle Genealogy of the Instruments.


Richard Whitehouse



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Image PENDERECKI: Seven Gates of Jerusalem, 'Symphony No
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Image PENDERECKI: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2
Krzysztof Penderecki (b.1933)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1

‘Metamorphosen’ Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2

Krzystof Penderecki’s First Symphony (1973) (Naxos 8.554567) brought to a climax his involvement with the post-war European avant-garde. Already in his Magnificat (1974) and tone poem Jacob’s Awakening (1975) the emphasis is on an expression with its harmonic roots in the late nineteenth century sound world of Wagner and Bruckner. This transition was completed with the First Violin Concerto (1974-6), commissioned by the Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft of Basle, which caused considerable controversy in new music circles following its première on 27th April 1977 by Isaac Stern, to whom it is dedicated, with the Basle Symphony Orchestra and Moshe Atzmon. The composer’s stated response, that "We can still use old forms to make new music", was to become almost a motto as symphonies and concertos moved to the forefront of his creative output.

Although originally planned as a multi-movement work, the First Violin Concerto was eventually realised as a single-movement span, though vestiges of the initial conception are detectable in the frequent changes of mood and pace. Over heaving basses and timpani, the basic musical material emerges effortfully on strings, subsiding into the musing of clarinet and violas. Against this backdrop the soloist appears, elaborating the ideas heard so far into an upward-striving melodic sequence. Tension spills over into a funereal idea on strings and timpani, over which the soloist spins a more lyrical, though still impassioned cantilena, before ebbing away to a sighing motion in strings. A powerful orchestral tutti now develops, trombones and timpani urging the music to a jagged outburst, before the soloist introduces a more capricious mood. Agitated strings slither around chromatically, until the soloist alights on a held chord, and the music attains some degree of stability. Over pulsating strings, the soloist builds the most sustained outpouring so far, before the held chord reappears on strings. Brass sound a plangent response, and the soloist drives the music to a climactic peak. The capricious music now briefly returns, presaging a Shostakovich-like ‘scherzo’ section over repeated percussion rhythms. This is curtailed by the funereal music, to which the soloist responds in suitably plangent terms. A more pensive, even resigned section ensues, culminating in an eerie passage of solo trills against high-lying strings, woodwind and harp. A driving toccata motion bursts in, petering out in the face of the funereal music, before a sudden tutti outburst initiates the concerto’s cadenza. This sums up most of the soloist’s melodic ideas, interrupted briefly when the scherzo music steals back in. The toccata motion ends the cadenza, and the concerto’s climax is reached with baleful brass writing. The soloist winds down the tension into a bleak and comfortless epilogue, solo viola and basses in muted support, and the ending is reached.

The compositional technique of metamorphosis, transforming motifs and melodic ideas as the music progresses, is central to this work as it is to most of Penderecki’s orchestral works over the next quarter of a century. Metamorphosen is, indeed, the title of his Second Violin Concerto (1992-5), commissioned by Central German Radio, and first performed by its orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons, with Anne-Sophie Mutter, to whom the concerto is dedicated. Again a large single movement falls into several continuous sections, now with a greater differentiation of tempo and orchestration.

The work opens with an oscillating motion on strings, resounding gong strokes adding to the sense of mystery. The solo violin takes up the prevailing harmonic motion, climbing to the top of its register. A brief, Brucknerian tutti subsides, then momentum increases with a rhythmic idea on violas, joined by other strings and woodwind, then by the soloist. This vigorous contrapuntal activity continues unabated, until dissipated by a held chord in the strings. A more lyrical discourse now sets in, austere in scoring, but touched by some imaginative percussion writing. The soloist muses pensively with the clarinet, then suddenly spirals to an impassioned tutti outburst. An angular fugal passage leads to a repeated chord sequence with tubular bells and gong, after which the lyrical discourse is resumed with poignant accompaniment from woodwind. A toccata-like motion now asserts itself on violas and percussion, over which the soloist strikes a pose of nonchalant defiance. This builds intently to a further held chord, cellos ushering in a plaintive passage for the solo violin at the top of its register, against a shimmer of strings and percussion. Tension increases, the soloist sounding agitated as the music moves through a spiky and often dance-like passage, replete with pizzicato and sul ponticello writing. Rhythmic energy increases, curtailed by the cadenza, which exploits the soloist’s technical capacity to the full. The dance motion strikes back in, but a tutti chord puts paid to the momentum, and a ghostly passage for the soloist over basses and timpani, filling out with woodwind contributions, proceeds to bring the concerto to its brief but impassioned climax and final resolution, bells and gong strokes shrouding these fatalistic closing pages in an aura of uncertainty. Not so bleak as the close of the First Concerto, then, but hardly affirmative in its demeanour.

Richard Whitehouse



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Image PENDERECKI: Te Deum / Hymne an den Heiligen Daniel
Since 1966, with the composition of the 'St Luke Passion' (Naxos 8.557149), Penderecki has enjoyed an international reputation for music that blends direct, emotional appeal with contemporary compositional techniques. The neo-Romantic choral work, 'Te Deum', was inspired by the anointing of Karol Wojtyla as the first Polish Pope in 1978. Although Penderecki's recent choral works have tended to be similarly monumental in scale, he has written several of a more compact nature, such as 'Hymne an den heiligen' Daniel, whose opening ranks as one of the composer's most affecting. This disc closes with two works for strings: the experimental 'Polymorphia' from 1961, and the expressive Chaconne, written in 2005 as a tribute to the late Pope John Paul II.

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Image PENDERECKI: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2
Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)

Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2


Chamber music has featured only intermittently in the outputof Krzysztof Penderecki. An accomplished violinist as a student, he wrotenumerous works for small ensembles up until the First String Quartet of 1960.Thereafter, with the exception of a Second String Quartet from 1969, theemphasis was firmly on operatic, choral and orchestral works. Chambercomposition was restricted to short 'homages' for friends and musicians until,in the 1990s, Penderecki returned to the medium in earnest. The present discfeatures one of his most significant chamber works from the end of that period,as well as several shorter pieces from either end of the composer's careerwhich place his approach to instrumental writing in context.


Composed in Krakow during 1953, before Penderecki had begunhis studies at the Academy of Music, what is now known as the First Sonata forViolin and Piano was not published until the early 1990s. After several ominouspiano chords, the Allegro bursts into life with a lively, Shostakovich-likeidea, contrasted with a more expressive theme. This alternation is thenelaborated and varied along the lines of a truncated sonata-form movement. Thefirst idea breaks off to reveal, after a pause, the more inward world of theAndante, a muted violin pursuing its Bartokian soliloquy over pensive pianochords. A sudden surge leads directly into the toccata-like Allegro vivace, itsbrusque main theme alternating with a gentler idea in a brief but energeticrondo which concludes the work with a flourish.


Composed in 1959, immediately after Penderecki had won allthree prizes awarded that year by the Polish Composers' Association and justbefore the start of his international career, the Three Miniatures for Violinand Piano suggest the influence of Webern in their concision, expressiveintensity and dynamic subtlety. No. 1 contrasts detached piano chords withextended violin techniques, No. 2 is a fractured violin solo, and No. 3 goessome way towards reconciling the instruments in a dialogue of unpredictablecontrasts. Wholly abstract in its musical import, each piece is intriguinglyprefaced in the score with a poem from Jerzy Harasymowicz's cycle Genealogy ofthe Instruments. The composer, together with pianist Henryk Jarznynki, gave thepremi?¿re in Krakow during June 1960.


Composed in 1984, Cadenza is actually an appendix to theViola Concerto which Penderecki wrote the previous year. Both works begin withan intervallic figure underlying much of the music that follows. Althoughwritten without bar lines, Cadenza falls into three, clearly discerniblesections. The first of these elaborates on the opening figure with increasinglyexpressive arches and intensifying dynamics. At its apex, this gives way to alively central section with much virtuoso writing for the instrument. The musicreaches a peak of activity, then a rapid slowing down marks a return to theopening music and, finally, the initial gesture. Grigory Schislin gave thepremi?¿re at Luslawice in September 1984.


The Second Violin Sonata, completed in 2000, is amongPenderecki's most substantial instrumental works to date. The arch-liketrajectory of its five-movement form recalls several late pieces by Schnittke(especially his Eighth Symphony and Second Cello Sonata) and also Shostakovich(notably his Eighth String Quartet). Quiet, pizzicato violin chords begin theopening Larghetto, interspersed with impassioned bowed phrases. The piano nowenters with an upward rushing scale, then the two instruments pursue a bleaklylyrical dialogue, in the process expounding upon their initial material. Abrief, double- stopped cadenza passage leads directly into the Allegrettoscherzando, its strutting, parodistic theme a familiar element in thecomposer's musical idiom ever since the First Violin Concerto [Naxos 8.555265].The music quickly becomes more aggressive, before a fugitive recall of the maintheme, the violin now muted, and a tersely inscrutable closing gesture. Marked'Notturno', the Adagio is the keystone of the work, and its emotional centre ofgravity. The main theme unwinds unhurriedly yet with an agitation that seesseveral climaxes punctuate the movement's free-ranging discourse. Midway awistful passage finds both instruments musing on the work's opening gesture ina telling point of repose. The preceding scherzo is alluded to, presaging abrief eruption, before the movement moves back into the plaintive territoryfrom which it emerged. A brief pause, and the Allegro breaks in with a forcefulidea again derived from that opening gesture. The second theme is contrastinglyserene and expressive, setting up a sonata-form structure which incorporates acadenza-like passage going into the reprise and further references to thesecond movement, culminating in a downward plunging sequence for violin, whoseprolonged trill ushers in the final Andante. Less an autonomous movement initself than a coda to the work as a whole, it draws together previous ideas ina flowing fantasia, at length disappearing regretfully into silence.


Richard Whitehouse



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Image Penderecki: Credo
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Image Penderecki: Utrenja
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Image PENDERECKI: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 5
Krzysztof Penderecki(b.1933)


Orchestral Works Vol.

2


Symphonies Nos. 1& 5



Although Krysztof Penderecki has long been recognized for his operas (TheDevils of Loudun, 1969; Paradise Lost, 1978; The Black Mask, 1986;Ubu, 1991) and large-scale choral works (St Luke Passion, 1965; Utrenja,1971; Te Deum, 1979; Polish Requiem, 1984 and Credo, 1998),recognition as a symphonic writer came belatedly. This is partly because upuntil the early 1970s, the immediacy and physicality of his orchestral workswas paralleled by their general brevity (the three pieces accompanying SymphonyNo. 3 on Volume 1 of this series [Naxos 8.554491] exemplify thesequalities). Yet as the First Symphony proves, the gestural nature of hisearlier music was susceptible to a considerable degree of long-term,'symphonic' development.



Symphony No. 1, in four continuous sections, was commissioned by thePeterborough firm of Perkins Engines, and first performed there in 1973 by theLondon Symphony Orchestra and the composer. Surprise at the source of thecommission went hand in hand with (false) speculation that the opening pageswere a recreation of sounds heard at an actual engineering plant. Indeed theopening of Arche I [track 2] is as scintillating as it is memorable: astriking accumulation of percussion patterns, culminating in wailing brass Twocrucial ideas now emerge a walking motion in the lower strings (2'32");and the note A held ominously by the horns (4'18"), leading into thelongest section, Dynamis I [track 3]. Despite interjections from upperstrings (the extraordinary 'tuning' passage at 2'49") brass andpercussion, 'A' remains a fixed presence on the musical landscape. Stringseffect a gradual climax (from 10'34"), before coalescing around A and aprolonged fade-out, broken by the robust Stravinskian chords of Dynamis II [track4]. This is the symphony's scherzo, playful and often hectic. A series ofsnatched silences stops the music in its tracks and prepares for the climacticonslaught (6'17"). Against pounding timpani and bass drum, frantic soundserrupt from woodwind and brass, only to collapse into a return of the 'walkingmotion' in lower strings, and the concluding Arche II [track 5]. Amidrecollections of earlier events, and ghostly reminders of those initial percussionpatterns, the symphony winds down to a series of A's in the double basses, withwhich it ends.



At the time the First Symphony was premi?¿red, Penderecki wasquoted as saying that his compositional style over the previous 15 years hadreached a natural conclusion, and that he was tempted to seek a new language inthe electronic studio. The stylistic shift which took place, though musically agood deal more conservative, was prophetic of the move away from Modernism thatinfluenced many European and American composers over the following decade.

Works such as his second symphony,the Christmas Symphony, deal unashamedly with a 'neo-romantic' tonallanguage rooted in the soundworld of Wagner and Bruckner. As the 1980sprogressed, however, elements of irony and parody became apparent, alongwith a vivid and hard-hitting orchestration that owes something to the exampleof Shostakovich; a composer Penderecki has conducted on numerous occasions.



Symphony No. 5 waspremi?¿red in Seoul in 1992, and a Korean folksong threads its way unobtrusivelythrough the lower strings at certain points. Penderecki again favours a singlemovement, although, unlike his second and fourth symphonies [both heard onNaxos 8.554492], the strongly-drawn contrast between slower and faster sectionsgives the work a greater dynamic charge. The opening features intense repeatedchords in the violas and mournful descending sequences in the upper strings,ideas that will return often. Violas launch an animated fugal motion(4'54"), with pungent interjections from brass and percussion, as themusic escalates to a brief climax, before relapsing into the depths. The solohorn now inaugurates a procession over funereal strings and tolling bells(10'18"), before the 'scherzo' emerges with whirring strings and rapidwoodwind phrases. Clamourous brass and grinding string chords lead to a quirky'trio' (16'32"), in which a martial theme is passed between instrumentswith a very Shostakovich-like irony. The scherzo material returns, leading to aforceful climax, after which cellos and oboes create a lachrymose mood. Atlength, the violas' fugal writing returns to propel the work to its main climax(29'33"), with brass sounding Mahlerian clarion calls across the wholeorchestra. Plaintive responses from the oboe and cor anglais prepare for thereturn of the horn's battle-weary lament, while the opening ideas are recalledin what promises to be a valedictory leave-taking. But aggressive strings usherin a brief coda (35'12"), with F hammered out relentlessly: the effect isconclusive, far from triumphal and typical of the mature Penderecki.



Richard Whitehouse



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Image PENDERECKI: WORKS FOR CELLOORCH
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Image PENDERECKI: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4
Born in Poland towards the end of 1933, Krzysztof Penderecki established a reputation as one of the most revolutionary composers of the 20th century, his scores gaining acclaim among modernists. In the mid-1960's he surprised the musical world by adopting a more traditional and populist style of composing, using melodic conventions as the basis of his music. This return to tonality generated a renewed interest in the symphonic form, the dramatic First Symphony of 1973 completing his restoration of melodic language. It was a style continued in the Second Symphony, commenced by the composer on Christmas Day 1979. The Fourth Symphony was commissioned by Radio France to mark the bicentenary of the French Revolution, the music moving between conflict and moments of reconciliation.



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Image Penderecki: Viola Concerto/ Cello Concerto No.2
Penderecki's concertos are amongst the most communicative, emotionally charged, and important works of the second half of the twentieth century. The Second Cello Concerto was written for Rostropovich and its exploration of Romantic intensity reflected a change in Penderecki's musical language. Its rich harmonies and dramatic power ensure unflagging interest. Opening with an expressive soliloquy for the soloist, the brooding and complex Viola Concerto incorporates a broad range of techniques from the composer's maturity into a taut and compact time-span. Grigori Zhislin has long been associated with this work, whilst Antoni Wit is one of the composer's greatest champions, whose 'authoritative insight' (American Record Guide) has been acknowledged in the Symphony No. 3 and Threnody on Naxos 8.554491.

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Image Penderecki: Piano Concerto | Flute Concerto
Scored for a large orchestra, including triple wind and a raft of percussion, Penderecki's Piano Concerto, heard here in its 2007 revision first performed by Barry Douglas, renews the composer's direct involvement with the 'grand' concerto tradition that culminated in Rachmaninov and Prokofiev. Its subtitle 'Resurrection' refers to the melody based on a chorale of a non-religious character, which gradually make its way into the foreground before emerging with striking power at the work's climax. The more modest forces used in the Flute Concerto place no restriction on this work's exceptional emotional range and kaleidoscopic colours.

Our ongoing recordings of Krzysztof Penderecki's work have drawn a wide following, and each new addition is eagerly snapped up in large quantities. This is based on universally recognised quality in all of these "fine performances" (Gramophone), and our "Penderecki series is [seen as] Wit's finest legacy so far: Poland's best living conductor at the service of its top living composer" (Culture Catch, both quotes on 8.572211, Viola and Cello concertos).

Lukasz Dlugosz has been the composer's flautist of choice for numerous performances of the Flute Concerto, and Barry Douglas was soloist in the première of the revised Piano Concerto in 2007. The pedigree of soloists, conductor and orchestra make these recordings a 'must-have' for all collectors.



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Image Penderecki: Sinfoniettas
This disc brings together some of Penderecki's least-known works. Covering the whole of his stylistic range - from saucy pastiche to more hard edged radical writing - this recording vividly captures Penderecki's growth and change as a composer. Antoni Wit, one of the most highly regarded Polish conductors, studied conducting with Henryk Czyz and composition with Krzysztof Penderecki at the Academy of Music in Krakow, subsequently continuing his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. In 2002 he became managing and artistic director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Image Penderecki: Horn Concerto
Each of these six orchestral works bears the imprint of Penderecki's greatness as a composer. Fonogrammi alternates piquant sonorities, pulsating vehemence and moments of great intimacy. Intensity accompanied by neo-Romantic elements can be heard in The Awakening of Jacob whilst Anaklasis is a stunning example of juxtaposed, multiple sound patterns. De natura sonoris I explores more improvisational, jazz-influenced areas, as does the richly orchestrated Partita. The Horn Concerto, composed in 2008, offers an evocative landscape, glacial, powerful, yet wistful.

Penderecki's orchestral works are some of the most sonically spectacular of our time. He is one of the greatest of living composers and his music appeals to those who are fascinated by his earlier, more sensational works as by his later, more neo-Romantic turns of phrase.

Antoni Wit, one of the most highly regarded Polish conductors, studied conducting with Henryk Czyz and composition with Krzysztof Penderecki at the Academy of Music in Krakow, subsequently continuing his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. In 2002 he became managing and artistic director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Image Penderecki:Magnificat
The two works on this recording are separated by 35 years, during which time Penderecki made a decisive break with the post-war European avant-garde. In the Magnificat, chilling instrumental clusters, spectral sounds and impassioned rhetoric unite with tonality and counterpoint to deliver a work of monumental emotional power. Written to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Jewish ghetto in ?ód?, Kadisz is among the most distinctive of Penderecki's later choral works in the stark contrasts between drama and sombre reflection of its individual sections.

Our magnificent catalogue of new recordings by Krzysztof Penderecki conducted by Antoni Wit guarantees massive interest in every new release, his versions of the symphonies (box set 8.505231) considered "the standard by which all others will be judged" by ClassicsToday.com.

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Image Penderecki: Kosmogonia
The range of Penderecki's music is exemplified by this disc, which presents five works written over a period of nearly 40 years. Hymne an den heiligen Adalbert was composed in 1997 and evokes the martyred eighth-century Bishop of Prague through spare but fervent gestures. More austere, but intense in its focus, is Song of the Cherubim, whilst Canticum Canticorum Salomis is a richly sensuous exploration of the Song of Songs. Kosmogonia explores a complex sound tapestry. Strophen (1959) was a breakthrough work - spare, intricate and marvellously tensile.

These are among Penderecki's most interesting and important works for orchestral and vocal forces, written over a near four decade period of growth and renewal. Wit and his forces have been highly commended in this repertoire and are among Penderecki's most ardent and experienced interpreters.

In 2002 Antoni Wit became managing and artistic director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. He has received six GRAMMY® nominations for Penderecki's St Luke Passion in 2004 (8.557149), A Polish Requiem in 2005 (8.557386-87), Seven Gates of Jerusalem in 2007 (8.557766), Utrenja in 2009 (8.572031) and Karol Szymanowski's Stabat Mater in 2008 (8.570724) and Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 in 2009 (8.570722).

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Image Penderecki:A Sea Of Dreams
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Image Penderecki:Magnificat
The two works on this recording are separated by 35 years, during which time Penderecki made a decisive break with the post-war European avant-garde. In the Magnificat, chilling instrumental clusters, spectral sounds and impassioned rhetoric unite with tonality and counterpoint to deliver a work of monumental emotional power. Written to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Jewish ghetto in ?ód?, Kadisz is among the most distinctive of Penderecki's later choral works in the stark contrasts between drama and sombre reflection of its individual sections.

Our magnificent catalogue of new recordings by Krzysztof Penderecki conducted by Antoni Wit guarantees massive interest in every new release, his versions of the symphonies (box set 8.505231) considered "the standard by which all others will be judged" by ClassicsToday.com.

£7.99
Image Penderecki:A Sea Of Dreams
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Image Penderecki: Piano Concerto 'Resurrection'
Only recently has Krzysztof Penderecki turned to the piano as a solo instrument. The first sketches for this concerto were made in 2001 and had a lighter character, similar to his Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra. Since the work was scheduled to be premiered in New York following the attack on the World Trade Center, Penderecki decided to present a much more serious work. The work is conceived in a broad formal layout reminiscent of a Mahler symphony transformed into a piano concerto. The work's title "Resurrection" was also conceived as a response to the events of September 11th, 2001. But this is not a resurrection in the religious sense; rather the title refers to the universal human desire for a fresh start, for a new birth. To underscore this idea, the composer employs a pealing of bells at the work's climax. In 2007, Penderecki's score underwent a major revision and it is this even longer version that is performed on this recording. Florian Uhlig has often played the concerto both under the direction of Penderecki himself as well as with other conductors throughout the world. This recording is particularly close to his heart.

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Image Penderecki: Credo
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Image A Tribute To Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki is one of the most successful composers of the 20th and 21st centuries and a Polish classical music icon. His 80th birthday in November 2013 was the occasion for an extraordinary gathering of the world's most significant musicians, important interpreters of his works, companions and long?time friends of the composer, including the extraordinary violinist Anne?Sophie Mutter, Valery Gergiev, Charles Dutoit, Krzysztof Urbanski, Roman Patkoló, Daniel Müller?Schott, Arto Noras and Ivan Monighetti. They all presented their homage to Penderecki within the setting of the Warsaw Teatr Wielki with some of his most famous works being performed: Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima; Duo Concertante for violin and double bass; Concerto Grosso for three cellos and orchestra; and the unique Credo.

Bonus footage includes Krzysztof Penderecki talking about the concert.

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Image Saven Gates of Jerusalem
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Image LIVE CONCERT
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Image UBU REX
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Image Penderecki: Chamber Works
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Image Lutoslawski/Cello Concerto
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Image PENDERECKI:VIOLIN CONCERTO
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Image Penderecki/ Lutoslawski: String Quartets
This wonderful young Polish ensemble continue their exploration of the string quartet repertoire of their homeland with this album of music by two giants of the twentieth century. Witold Lutosl/awski, whose centenary is celebrated in 2013, wrote his one and only string quartet in 1964 and it has since maintained an eminent position in the international repertoire. Krzysztof Penderecki (born 1933) was the most talked about Polish composer in the early 1960s and remains an important presence in contemporary music. His three string quartets (1960, 1968 and 2008) are key works in the history of the post-war Polish quartet.

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Image György Ligeti; Krzysztof Pendereck; Edgard Varese:
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Image POLISH REQUIEM
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Image VIOLIN CONCERTOS 1 & 2
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Image PENDERECKI:CAPRICCIO
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Image PENDERECKI:MUSICA DA CAMERA
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Image PENDERECKI:PER CORO
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Image PENDERECKI:SEVEN GATES
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Image Debut
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Image Penderecki: Paths Through The Labyrinth
On the occasion of Penderecki's 80th birthday in 2013, this film portrays the artist with a comprehensive 'work in progress' documentary: despite his growing age, Penderecki is still an unflinching and active composer and conductor. For one year, the author Anna Schmidt has been studying this world-famous artist, speaking also with high-carat companions: Anne-Sophie Mutter, Julian Rachlin and Janine Jansen, Johnny Greenwood ("Radiohead") and Andrzej Wajda. The film follows Penderecki from Kraków to Munich, from Vienna to Leipzig, and on various occasions to his country estate in Luslawice. And throughout, the composer reflects on the meteoric beginning to his career, unexpected turning points in his life and ingenious ideas. Thoughts, dialogues, extracts from his music and film scores, encounters and the natural world all condense to create a fascinating, multi-layered portrait including also very rare archive material.

And even people who never heard of him, know Penderecki´s compositions from films like Stanley Kubrick´s "The Shining", Martin Scorsese´s "Shutter Island" or Andrzej Wajda´s "Katyn".

Bonus: Interviews with Lorin Maazel and Jonny Greenwood from "Radiohead"

Picture: 16:9, HD
Sound (DVD): PCM Stereo
Sound (BD): PCM Stereo


£28.99
Image Penderecki: Paths Through The Labyrinth
On the occasion of Penderecki's 80th birthday in 2013, this film portrays the artist with a comprehensive 'work in progress' documentary: despite his growing age, Penderecki is still an unflinching and active composer and conductor. For one year, the author Anna Schmidt has been studying this world-famous artist, speaking also with high-carat companions: Anne-Sophie Mutter, Julian Rachlin and Janine Jansen, Johnny Greenwood ("Radiohead") and Andrzej Wajda. The film follows Penderecki from Kraków to Munich, from Vienna to Leipzig, and on various occasions to his country estate in Luslawice. And throughout, the composer reflects on the meteoric beginning to his career, unexpected turning points in his life and ingenious ideas. Thoughts, dialogues, extracts from his music and film scores, encounters and the natural world all condense to create a fascinating, multi-layered portrait including also very rare archive material.

And even people who never heard of him, know Penderecki´s compositions from films like Stanley Kubrick´s "The Shining", Martin Scorsese´s "Shutter Island" or Andrzej Wajda´s "Katyn".

Bonus: Interviews with Lorin Maazel and Jonny Greenwood from "Radiohead"

Picture: 16:9, HD
Sound (DVD): PCM Stereo
Sound (BD): PCM Stereo


£29.99
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