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".
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.
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 Łódź, 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.
This film sees the world première video recording of Penderecki's first opera The Devils of Loudun, filmed shortly after its world première in 1969 at the Hamburg State Opera.
Penderecki's 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.
Symphony No. 1, in four continuous sections, was commissioned by the Peterborough firm of Perkins Engines, and first performed there in 1973 by the London Symphony Orchestra and the composer. Symphony No. 5 was premièred in Seoul in 1992, and a Korean folksong threads its way unobtrusively through the lower strings at certain points. Penderecki again favours a single movement, although, unlike his second and fourth symphonies, the strongly-drawn contrast between slower and faster sections gives the work a greater dynamic charge.
This collection of Krysztof Penderecki's music encompasses one of New Music's most intense, even extreme pieces: Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. Played in the extreme registers by 52 string performers, this piece came off in every way as a careening lamentation. Decrying the bombing of Hiroshima at a time when it was still a historical blue ribbon on the war chest of the U.S., Threnody was unforgettable for its vast ranges of sound colors, from the quietest and most brittle to the most raging, swirling bruises imaginable.–Andrew Bartlett
Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (Tren ofiarom Hiroszimy in Polish) is a musical composition for 52 string instruments, composed in 1959 by Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933), which took third prize at the Grzegorz Fitelberg Composers' Competition in Katowice in 1960. The piece swiftly aroused tremendous interest around the world and made its young composer famous. The piece—originally called 8'37" (at times also 8'26")—applies the sonoristic technique and rigors of specific counterpoint to an ensemble of strings treated unconventionally in terms of tone production. "While reading the score," Tadeusz Zielinski wrote in 1961, "one may admire Penderecki's inventiveness and coloristic ingeniousness. Yet one cannot rightly evaluate the Threnody until it has been listened to, for only then does one face the amazing fact: all these effects have turned out to serve as a pretext to conceive a profound and dramatic work of art!" Indeed, the piece tends to leave an impression both solemn and catastrophic, earning its classification as a threnody. On October 12, 1964, Penderecki wrote, "Let the Threnody express my firm belief that the sacrifice of Hiroshima will never be forgotten and lost."