KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI - Works for String Orchestra

Buy CD from Amazon
KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI - Works for String Orchestra - Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra - Antoni Wit (Conductor) - Jean-Louis Capezzali (Oboe) - Artur Pachlewski (Clarinet) - 747313221271 - Released: February 2012 - Naxos 8.572212

1) Three Pieces in Old Style (1963)
- Aria
- Menuetto I
- Menuetto II
2) Serenade (1997)
- Passacaglia
- Larghetto
3) Sinfonietta No. 1 (1992)
- Allegro molto
- Vivace
4) Intermezzo for 24 strings (1973)
5) Capriccio for Oboe and String Orchestra (1964)
6) Sinfonietta No. 2 (1994)
- Notturno: Adagio
- Scherzo: Vivacissimo
- Serenade: Tempo di valse
- Abschied: Larghetto

Regardless of the style, or the period, these diversified works are all defining examples of the powerful creative forces within the music of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki (b 1933). An important and imposing figure in the artistic life of Poland, and in fact one of the most imposing figures in present day music. He is one of today's composers to have received the most awards and honors in various fields. He made a name for himself in the 1960s with the composition of 'Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima', a very modern and forward-looking work. But gradually, ever since, Penderecki has been looking back. He has been consciously retrograding. He himself admitted that "experimentation and formal speculation, are more destructive than constructive". And as the pieces on this recording attest, you would be hard-pressed to sort them out chronologically if the composition dates were not printed on the back cover. The works on this CD span a period of about 34 years of rigorous output.

Most surprising is the Three Pieces in Old Style written for a film only three short years after the infamous Threnody. The obvious homage to Bach in the beautiful Aria and the stately and gallant style of the two Menuettos will take you aback. The Larghetto from the Serenade could easily be mistaken for a bleak and dark passage in a Shostakovich symphony. Music of harrowing emotive power. Even the Intermezzo for 24 strings, considered to be from his avant-garde and experimental period, layers lines and textures which lead to quite a stirring climax that quite simply fills the room with a living energy that will have you checking over your shoulder. On the other hand, the Capriccio for Oboe and String Orchestra, with the tremendous talent of Jean-Louis Capezzali demanding the impossible from the oboe, is definitely, as its title indicates, a caprice in every sense of the word. It demands a strange combination of whimsy, aplomb and discipline from everyone involved. And last but not least, the two Sinfoniettas bring together the best of both worlds, with both feet planted firmly in the soil of tradition and the eyes gazing strongly into infinity. In particular, the Sinfonietta No. 2, a transcription of his own Clarinet Quartet, contains very evocative writing within the strings as well as beautifully plaintive passages for the clarinet, played accordingly by Artur Pachlewski. The final stirring moments which end the CD, leave you wanting more.

The Penderecki/Wit/Warsaw series of recordings for Naxos over the last few years has been nothing less than exceptional, and this latest release is from the same pedigree. Commited playing, insightful interpretations and a great sound recording. It can't get much better than this.

Jean-Yves Duperron - April 2012