Performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir with various soloists, and composed in 1969-1970, Jutrznia I (Utrenya I: The Entombment of Christ) is a magnificent contemporary oratorio in five parts for two mixed choirs, five solo voices and symphony orchestra is a spine-tingling evocation of deep religious and otherworldly experience; the text is taken from Old Church Slavic writings concerning the Russian Orthodox liturgy of Great Saturday and Vespers of Good Friday. The elegant choral and orchestral material consists of tone clusters with major/minor chords embedded in them, wordless drones, chants in the rhythmically repeated chord style of the Russian Orthodox Church and ecstatic reaching for the highest notes in the soloists' range. Whispered speaking, percussive and brass punctuations, random rushing sounds, steely bow cymbal sustains, and more, take us into an inter-dimensional world of boundless interior and exterior. The second part of the diptych (of which Utrenya I: The Entombment of Christ is the first part), Jutrznia II (Utrenya II: The Resurrection of Christ), composed during 1970-71, is for five vocal soloists, boys choir, two mixed choirs and symphony orchestra. In contrast to Utrenya I, this work is one of unrestrained joy and wonder, the spirit of a more earthy world of two thousand years ago projected onto a contemporary landscape of cosmic dimensions. A remarkable and moving set of works.
Inspired early on by the experimental pieces of Krzysztof Penderecki, Radiohead's guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood has pursued the idea of shaping orchestral sounds in enexpected ways to produce startling and innovative works. Just as Penderecki wrote for conventional instruments and turned dense bands of microtonal dissonances and extended techniques into the agonized cries of Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and the pulsating roars and shrieks of Polymorphia, Greenwood achieves comparable effects in his multilayered and highly varied orchestral music. The massed harmonies and swooping glissandi of Popcorn Superhet Receiver owe a considerable debt to Threnody, which Greenwood would gladly admit; because the title 48 Responses to Polymorphia openly acknowledges the connection to that work, it is easy to identify Greenwood's raw materials and how he brilliantly reworks them to his purposes. This 2012 release from Nonesuch consists of recordings made with the Aukso Orchestra in Kraków, Poland, with Penderecki conducting his own works and Marek Mos conducting Greenwood's compositions.
This 2004 survey of modern settings of the medieval sequence Stabat Mater Dolorosa is part of conductor Marcello Viotti's project to record the little-known but worthy sacred works of the twentieth century, in conjunction with the Munich Radio Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Chorus for their concert series Paradisi gloria. The four works by Francis Poulenc, Karol Szymanowski, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Wolfgang Rihm are dramatically different in conception and musical content, and may be regarded more as reflections of personal faith than as practical works for ecclesiastical purposes.
The instrumental concerto occupies a very prominent place in the music of Krzysztof Penderecki. This fact is related to the great life force exhibited by this genre in twentieth century and in contemporary music. It is stimulated by commissions from virtuosos and by audience expectations; also favourable is the composers’ flexibility in approaching the form, whose chief idea continues to be the juxtaposition of the solo instrument and the orchestra. The violin and viola works presented on this CD are not only interesting, concrete realizations of the concertare idea in Penderecki’s music, but also examples of this composer’s sonic language and style in the period of his creativity which Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski called a "time of dialogue with the regained past".
On Soli, Tamsin Waley-Cohen's 2015 release on Signum Classics, the violinist explores modernist repertoire composed between 1944 and 2005. Because these solo violin pieces by Béla Bartók, George Benjamin, Krzysztof Penderecki, Elliott Carter, and György Kurtág are challenging for both the player and the listener, one should approach this CD with some awareness that they reflect different phases of the avant-garde movement that dominated music in the last half of the 20th century. In quieter selections where the moods are primarily brooding or lyrical, Waley-Cohen produces a vibrant tone and smooth phrasing that make her playing easy to appreciate, even when the music isn't recognizably tonal. However, in louder, dissonant passages, notably in sections of the Bartók Sonata, Benjamin's Canon for Sally, Carter's Remembering Aaron, and Kurtág's Anziksz Kellerannanak, the close microphone placement makes her bowing sound overly resinous and scratchy, which can be hard to enjoy. Even so, few violinists dare approach this bracing material, and Waley-Cohen is to be commended for devoting a whole album to such cutting-edge pieces solely on her terms, without making compromises.
To celebrate the 80th birthday of the composer, DUX Recordings presents Krzysztof Penderecki symphonies conducted by the maestro himself. Penderecki’s symphonies have a special place in composer’s legacy as they have never been recorded in a series before under the artistic direction of the maestro. Penderecki said that the DUX recordings present the best performances of his works and therefore making the series even more appealing. This very special project is presented for the first time as a box set, at a very special price.