STYLE: Classical RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 17490- LABEL: EMI 724356541627 FORMAT: CD Album
Reviewed by John Irvine
This collection of early 1970s recordings has been re-released as part ofEMTs excellent ongoing series on the Matrix label designed to open up new musical horizons to the classical music lover who wants to move on beyond the standard classical repertoire. These recordings date from the same sessions as those on a previous matrix release (reviewed in CR22). 1 made some disparaging comments about that release to the effect that it was not a good idea to fill up a disc with short pieces which only existed to show how clever clever the composer was. Like many composers in the 1950s and 1960s in the avant garde, Penderecki was concerned with pushing back the boundaries of what was considered acceptable or indeed possible. There arc elements of that here also, but there is more variety on offer and the works are generally more substantial. The seven minute "Emanationen" (1958) was one of Pcnderecki*s first excursions into the weird sound world of discordant strings which became one of his trademarks: the piece is scored for two string orchestras tuned one semitone apart and the musicians have to use techniques such as bowing over the fingerboard and bridge and using the wooden part of the bow, fairly radical stuff at the time. The overall effect to listeners in the 1990s now is not so much of wcirdness but of the atmospherics encountered in film scores. "Partita" (1971) for harpsichord and orchestra is a more substantial piece clocking in at 20 minutes and takes a hybrid form, a synthesis of theme-and-variations and 18th century "concerto grosso' form. The harpsichord not only acts as a solo instrument in competition with the orchestra, but also as part of an amplified group within the orchestra consisting of harp, electric guitars and bass. I found it a deeply moving piece - I hit the "skip" button on my CD player within minutes. Definitely one for the archives. The "Cello Concerto" (1972) is a piece placing great demands on the soloist and listener alike. With the benefit of hindsight it was one of the last few pieces of 'advanced' music that Pendcrecki was to write before beginning to adopt is mature style from around 1974 onwards which was to encompass the late 19th century romanticism of Bruckner as well as the experimentation of the 1950s and 1960s. The "Symphony" of 1973 was the first concrete step in this direction. The work was derided by critics at the time for several reasons, not least of these being that it sounds like Pendereeki was trying to musically recreate the sound of a production line - the piece was commissioned and paid for by Perkins Engines of Peterborough! Although in some respects these pieces of music are of historical curiosity only, showing not only the developing sound would of one of this century's most important composers but also the attitudes and compositional language of the 1960s, in many respects there is much here to satisfy not only the student of Penderecki's music, but also any student of 20th century music. Expand your musical horizons!
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