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Penderecki – Orchestral Works (FLAC)

Penderecki - Orchestral Works (FLAC)
Penderecki – Orchestral Works (FLAC)

Performer: Felicja Blumental, Siegfried Palm
Orchestra: Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra
Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Label: EMI Classics
Size: 342 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Emanationen For Two String Orchestras
02. Partita For Harpsichord And Orchestra
03. Cello Concerto

04. I. Arche I – Dynamis I
05. II. Dynamis II – Arche II

A remarkable disc; urgently recommended

This is a stunning disc. Penderecki’s early avant-garde works are presumably the place to start if you want to get skeptics interested – indeed, one characteristic feature of the music on this disc is that in addition to the uncompromised artistic content, there is also surface excitement; figures, tensions and dynamics that will appeal to even those not used to concentrated listening to this kind of music. And this places Penderecki in a quite special position among the vanguards of the 60s avant-garde. It should be added that the music has lost none of the urgency, intensity, originality or power, even though the shock effect of the new might be gone – these works are, as opposed to many works of the period (or any period) works that has withstood the test of time, and they must, I think, sound as absorbingly, penetratingly raw and extraordinary now as I imagine they did back then.

Emanationen is scored for two string orchestras where one is tuned a minor second higher than the other – which might sound like a cheap effect, but damn how effectively it is deployed. The employment of the flurrying and flittering of the glissandi makes this instantly recognizable to such ominously enchanting effect that you have never heard anything quite similar. Even more effective is the remarkable combination of ostinati and roaring sound-field textures in the Partita, a truly stunning work. The Cello concerto (no. 1) is more complex, but full of action and dynamism and madly suprising turns, full of exotic colors and sound effects; this is imaginative, adventuresome, bizarre, dizzying, contemplative and unpredictable music, never letting go of you, the listener, for a second. The (first) symphony is a massive, grantic work constructed in one big structural arch. It points towards the later Penderecki, but as opposed to the later, vapid neo-romanticism of, say, the second symphony, this eventful and sometimes understated symphony is a really good work, distinctive, uncompromising but full of imaginative, inventive touches. Compared to the other works on the disc it might come across as somewhat forbidding and austere, but it truly leaves a strong impression to those who bother to give it some concentration.

Performances are generally glorious. Penderecki was apparently an extremely encouraging conductor, and it sounds like the orchestra plays their guts out here. There might be a little lack of polish in Emanationen (it’s an old recording), but nothing to worry too much abou. The Partita has some odd balancing at times as well (presumably a necessary compromise to capture the harpsichord over the often brutally thick layers of orchestral texture), but is well played. Siegfried Palm gives a masterful rendering of the cello concerto and I have no complaints to the spirited and gut-wrenching performance of the symphony. Sound quality is good as well; sometimes a little opaque and revealing its age, but usually powerful and excellently remastered.

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