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Penderecki: Orchestral Works Vol. 1

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Album Review

The first of two volumes documenting various orchestral works of Penderecki, this captures him at arguably the most fascinating point in his career, where the sheer experimentalism of his early years was being melded into structures that were almost traditional and even romantic in nature. One highlight is a wild and woolly Cello Concerto, with Siegfried Palm in the spotlight navigating a virtuosic piece that's virtually an avant-garde version of something that might have been written for Paganini. Palm launches into the work with ferocity and abandon, the orchestra (replete with saxophones, a harmonium, and an electric guitar) bellowing and rumbling in pitched battle. De Natura Sonoris No. 2 is equally impressive, though in a much more somber vein. As the title implies, it's a pure exploration of sound, a shifting textural fabric ranging from a keening duo section for bird whistle and bowed saw to an extraordinarily dense cacophony of low brass and strident percussion (including hammered train rail!) that ultimately exhausts itself into a series of plaintive moans. The remaining two compositions, if less immediately overwhelming, are also fine, haunting works, Kanon especially emphasizing Penderecki's slashing writing for string orchestra combined with additional taped string music, again producing a sonic thickness rarely heard in contemporary classical music. Unavailable on disc as of 2002, this album, along with its companion volume, is an essential document of Penderecki's career.

Customer Reviews


If you are a serious music fan that is always looking for something to expand and challenge your musical ear then, please, take my advice and explore the works of Penderecki. I learned about him only 30 minutes ago during a class that I am taking that studies the history of "classical" music and am thankful for my discovery. If you are like myself, always on the hunt for something exciting to reinvigorate my understanding of what makes music so great, then listen to these pieces of music. Preview them and you should be able to gather what is going on enough to tempt your interest. If you are going to purchase only one track, I would recommend "Threnody For The Victims of Hiroshima". It was my introduction and seems to be a good starting point if there is one here with such an artist. WOW, WOW, WOW!!

A very good introduction to one of the most important composers of the 20th century

Any twentieth-century music history class is not complete without the thorough study of the Polish composer Penderecki. His most famous work is present on this CD: Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. I can remember the exact day, weather, and classroom perspective when I first heard this piece over loudspeakers, and since then, there is no humanly way I will ever forget the sounds of siren- and scream-like seemingly electronic strings wailing for nine minutes. Incredible music that every person should experience, regardless of whether they do or do not like it, as it is such an emotionally moving composition. Aside from Threnody, the other two works (Fluorescenses for Orchestra and De Natura Sonoris II for Orchestra) that incorporate the long-held chords (the "sound mass," as another reviewer mentioned), are just as amazing. In fact, some people might recognize De Natura Sonoris II from the movie The Shining as well as another of Penderecki's compositions - Utrenja, which is one of the eeriest pieces of music I know. Furthermore, humorously enough, Penderecki's work was also included in the Exorcist. I am fairly certain that Threnody was used in the recent movie "Children of Men" as well. NAXOS, the producers of many art music CDs, is a very dependable source of high quality performances and ideal combinations of work and introductions to composers. While this CD does not include his monumental piece "St. Luke's Passion," (Which everyone should hear at least once), this CD serves as a sufficient introduction to Penderecki. I would also recommend listening to Symphony No. 4, which was written at the same time he was writing Symphony No. 3, and is a little more well-known. If you want to develop a cursory acquaintance with Penderecki, this CD is ideal. For a more in-depth view on the composer, looking elsewhere might be best.

Penderecki Great hits!

This recording is one of the best compilations of Penderecki's most important works ever done! The Orchestra is GREAT, and the interpretation of his music is impeccable. I plan on using this recording in my teaching at the College/University level.


Born: November 23, 1933 in Debica, Poland

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An internationally known composer and conductor, Krzysztof Penderecki is best known for his 1965 composition "St. Luke's Passion." His style reflects the changes in music from the '60s to the present day. He has played with and conducted several orchestras and has won numerous awards for his composition and conducting. Born in Debica, Poland, in 1933, Krzysztof Penderecki graduated from the Krakow High School of Music and quickly became an accomplished composer in Poland. He won all three prizes...
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Penderecki: Orchestral Works Vol. 1, Krzysztof Penderecki
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