Penderecki, Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra - Symphony No 2 Christmas Symphony

Sunday 1st August 1993
Penderecki, Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra - Symphony No 2 Christmas Symphony

STYLE: Classical
RATING 6 6 6 6 6 6
LABEL: Polskie Nagrania 019

Reviewed by John Irvine

Krzysztof Penderecki is a national figure in Poland. He is recognised almost everywhere he goes; yet most Poles have never heard a note of his music. He commands national respect because of the acclaim Penderecki has won abroad. Until Gorecki's recent successes, Penderecki was Poland's most successful modern musical export. From his early experiments with 'texture music' (noise to the uninitiated) in the early 1960 he moved to a more sombre neo-romantic style in the 70s and 80s which owed much to the 19th century German master, Bruckner. Like Bruckner, Penderecki has explored and expressed his Catholic faith through his music, often in works of an explicitly religious nature. He found writing the Second Symphony difficult until Christmas 1979 when he was able to complete the work by quoting the carol "Silent Night". Penderecki publicly stated the significance which the eve of Christ's birth has had on his faith and music and particularly this piece. The work is, however, dark and sombre, very gloomy. The carol "Silent Night" is quoted three times, but only briefly, providing a ray of hope in a dark and dismal picture. I suspect Penderecki is making a theological point - it was to a dark and sinful world that Christ came, to be born in the filth and squalor of Bethlehem. It is to a dark and hostile world that Christ still comes today, and Penderecki reflects a suffering world awaiting the coming of the Redeemer.

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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