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.
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 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.
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