When conceiving his Polonaise for orchestra, Penderecki used the fantasia form, not unfamiliar to Chopin, which is based on a primary theme, which, as the piece progresses, is being developed, transformed and subjected to several different variations. Richly orchestrated, it allows performers to create colours that overlap each other while influencing the overall musical expression. Spatiality is a very important aspect of this work as during its world premiere the wind instruments were placed on the balcony of the Warsaw Philharmonic's Concert Hall. The composition could be called "the apotheosis of a polonaise" or, as the composer prefers, "a small symphonic poem on the theme of a polonaise".
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".