Penderecki, Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra - Cello & Viola Concertos/Adagietto

Sunday 1st August 1993
Penderecki, Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra - Cello & Viola Concertos/Adagietto

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Polskie Nagrania 020

Reviewed by John Irvine

This is a collection of recordings of some of Penderecki's finest works from his neo-romantic period which covered the decade 1974-84. The Second Cello Concerto (1982) and the Viola Concerto (1983) are in a similar style: big and bold orchestral passages contrasted with solos of extremely demanding virtuosity and with lyrical passages where the soloist and orchestra work together to create a brilliantly moving experience. These are neo-romantic works in the sense that both the mind and the spirit are challenged and subsequently satisfied by the music. But Penderecki also puts his signature firmly on the pieces, not only in his choice of orchestral 'colouring', but also by using some of the odd experimental techniques from the 1960s - the cello concerto both begins and ends with eerie glissendi strings, spine tingling stuff! The shorter orchestral works on this collection also deserve some comment. In 1976 Penderecki composed and produced an opera based on Milton's Paradise Lost. Because of the massive choral and orchestral forces required, this work has rarely been performed, even in a 'concert' version. As if to make up for it, a 5 minute 'Adagietto' made up of the opera's major themes has become popular and is recorded here. The small work successfully conveys the sense of paradise having become lost forever. The final piece "The Awakening Of Jacob" is based on Genesis 28: 16. Jacob's dream of the ladder to heaven and his terror at waking up are brilliantly captured by the music, which also conveys a sense of the 'otherness' of a Holy God. Apart from some odd tape noises not eliminated in the transfer to CD, the sound quality and performances are absolutely brilliant. Strongly recommended.

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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