Krzysztof Penderecki - Matrix 5: Canticum Canticorum Salomis And Orchestral Works

Monday 1st August 1994
Krzysztof Penderecki - Matrix 5: Canticum Canticorum Salomis And Orchestral Works

STYLE: Classical
RATING 5 5 5 5 5

Reviewed by John Irvine

In my article on Penderecki in CR18, I remarked that avant garde experimental music could sustain interest for a maximum of up to 10 minutes. Anything longer would require breaks of more 'conventional' music. This disc, unfortunately, is a 75 minute compilation of Penderecki's shorter and 'advanced' pieces that he wrote from 1959 to 1974. These were recordings that Penderecki made for EMI Records in 1973 and 1976 and full marks must go to EMI for restoring these works to the catalogue and for presenting a chronological survey of Penderecki's shorter works from "Anaklasis" (1959) to the "Dream Of Jacob" (1974). Of these works, only the "Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima" (1961) is well known and played today. Several problems present themselves with the disc: most of the pieces are extremely short (around the 10 minute mark) and seem only to exist to demonstrate some point about how clever the composer is and how he is able to create unique sound effects. The effect of 75 minutes of the same style of dated avant garde music makes for a very weary listening session. Some variety and contrast would have been nice -particularly if these works had been contrasted with Penderecki's later, more 'romantic' works. Some good points emerge: Penderecki comes across not just as a very clever and gifted composer, but as a man who was able to communicate modern music to a wider audience, by popularising forms of musical expression which hitherto had been too elitest. His music stands out by being extremely emotionally potent and nowhere is this clearer than in the "Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima", where we are presented with an absolutely electrifying and disturbing performance which is without doubt the finest recording of this work currently available. To sum up, a release more for the dedicated Penderecki fan or student of 20th century music than for the average buyer, but still worth investigating.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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