KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI - Various Orchestral Works

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KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI - Various Orchestral Works - Antoni Wit (Conductor) - Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra - 747313248278 - Released: June 2012 - Naxos 8.572482

1} Fonogrammi - Flute and Chamber Orchestra (1961)
2} The Awakening of Jacob (1974)
3} Anaklasis - String Orchestra and Percussion (1960)
4} De natura sonoris I (1966)
5} Partita - Harpsichord, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Harp, Double bass and Orchestra (1971, rev. 1991)
6} Horn Concerto 'Winterreise' (2008, rev. 2009)

The impressive ongoing Naxos traversal of the music of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki (b 1933) is now close to hitting the twenty unit mark. Each and every title, including this one, can't be recommended strongly enough. Wonderful works, impressive interpretations, reference recordings, magnificent musicianship, etc ... Plus it seems that every release on Naxos featuring the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit, regardless of the composer, turns out to be a sonic splendour.

This new collection spans 50 years of Penderecki's creative output, and makes for a varied and fascinating program. Highlights include a hair-raising performance of The Awakening of Jacob. An orchestral piece so intense as to elicit fright and become almost terrifying. There is something inherently disturbing and scary within this music. Imagine my pleasant surprise, while doing some research on this work, to realize that it was actually used as part of the background score to the film 'The Shining' by Stanley Kubrick. Apt soundtrack indeed! The Partita for Harpsichord, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Harp, Double bass and Orchestra is so ingeniously scored that its unusual menagerie of instruments never sounds like what you would expect, but rather becomes an integral part of this work's textural sonic construct. A feast for the ears. Hats off to Elzbieta Stefanska, Michal Pindakiewicz, Konrad Kubicki, Barbara Witkowska and Jerzy Cembrzynski for their indispensable instrumental contributions to the overall mesmerizing effect of this piece. And I guess it's safe to say that the future of music looks bright when the twenty-first century can spawn as inventive and enthralling an orchestral work as the Horn Concerto 'Winterreise'. Rich in melody and technical demands, it merges the soloist's evocative lines with great orchestral tuttis to dazzling effect. Its elevated neo-romanticism would have you believe it was written in 1908 rather than 2008. Jennifer Montone handles the horn's long lyrical lines very well and holds her own within the few heavy climactic moments. People who think good concertos are a thing of the past, have yet to hear this one. It contains all the earmarks of a great concerto, including a bravura finish.

If you already have some of these Naxos/Penderecki CDs in your collection, I strongly recommend you add this one to it. If you don't, this one is as good a place to start as any, but don't stop there. This is a series of recordings that define the 20th century's musical landscape, and then some. Explore!

Jean-Yves Duperron - July 2012