A Tribute to Krzysztof Penderecki (2014)Program: Threnody fo the Victims of Hiroshima; Duo Concertante for violin and double bass; Concerto Grosso for Three Cellos and Orchestra; Credo
Performers: Anne-Sophie Mutter, Van Monighetti, Arto Noras, Niklay Dedenko, Sinfonia Varsovia, Charles Dutoit, Valery Gergiev, Krzysztof Urbanski, others
Director: Michael Beyer
Studio: Accentus Music 20276 [Distr. by Naxos] (6/24/14)
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 color, no region code
Audio: English DTS 5.1, DD 5.1, PCM 2.0
Subtitles: English, German, French, Chinese
Extra: Penderecki talks about the concert
Length: feature: 106 min.; extra: 15:32 min.
Krzysztof Penderecki will be remembered as one of the boldest and most innovative of composers over the last half of the twentieth century. Much of his early music was flavored by his experiences growing up in Poland and seeing the horrible effects of first Nazism, then Communism but into the late century and the political revolution. He has always, also, been a devout Catholic and much of his music reflects his devotion and beliefs. He is also a composer whose style has morphed over the years.
This amazing video is of a tribute concert to honor the composer on his eightieth birthday in November, 2013 at the Polish National Opera, Warsaw. There are four diverse and important works here that give us a very nice over view of the master’s style. Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima was written in 1960 and is full of the cluster harmonies and extended string techniques that character the composer’s “middle period” and leaves a stark, bleak and somewhat violent look at the last days of World War II. The Duo Concertante for Violin and Double Bass comes from 2010 and is the most recent of the works on this program. It is a brief, seven-minute showpiece for the two strings. Rather thorny in places it is also quite charming and attention getting. The performances by Anne-Sophie Mutter and Roman Patkolo could not be better. I did not know the Concerto Grosso for Three Cellos and Orchestra from 2001 until now and what a rewarding work! This is a long, six movement concerto grosso, in the true Rococo sense, for three solo celli and a very large orchestra. The writing is simply astonishing and covers vast stylistic ground. There are even some very Shostakovich-like bursts of what could be described as “sarcastic military music” This is a big, beautiful and important piece. The three soloists are stunning!
The composer’s Catholic as well as his pride in the appointment of the world’s first Polish Pope (countryman Karol Cardinal Wojtyla) is reflected in the vast, moving and beautiful Credo for chorus and orchestra. This amazing work holds a style as well as some harmonic and trademark minor key chromatic melodic motives in common with other recent works such as his Violin Concerto or the opera Paradise Lost (which – please – somebody release commercially; I know there were rights issues with Chicago Lyric Opera but it is spectacular!) For anyone not at all familiar with Penderecki’s work; I really think this video concert makes for a wonderful and accessible introduction and for those of us already well acquainted and appreciative, this is a must have!
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