Author Topic: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)  (Read 98029 times)

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Offline Maciek

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Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« on: April 12, 2007, 02:43:03 PM »

(pic by Nutada (own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Judging by the number of threads dedicated to him on the old forum - one of the most popular contemporary composers on GMG. But a controversial figure nontheless. The sudden stylistic turns he took in his career. The tendency he has to make each next work even longer. His slightly pompous demeanor. Etc.

Personally, I tend to like his work less and less as his style "develops". His early, avantgarde stuff is right up my alley. But he starts to get boring for me around the end of the 70s, when he is well into his neo-romantic turn (still, I have to admit I love Paradise Lost!).

My favorite pieces:
Dimensions of Time and Silence (1959-61), String Quartet No. 1 (1960), Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (1960) for 52 string instruments, Polymorphia (1961) for 48 string instruments, Fluorescences (1961-62) for orchestra, St. Luke's Passion (1965), Dies Irae (1967), String Quartet No. 2 (1968), The Devils of Loudun (Die Teufel von Loudun, 1968-69), Utrenja (1969-71), Cello Concerto No. 1 (1972), The Dream of Jacob (1974), Paradise Lost (1978).

I think the symphonies are something I'm missing out on - I only know the first two but I'm not especially fond of them.

Of the later works (such as the Polish Requiem or the Seven Gates of Jerusalem) I only like snatches or (even more often) I don't like them at all.

Here are some links to threads dedicated to Penderecki on the old forum:
The Devils of Loudun on DVD
Penderecki: The Devils of Loudun (only 1 post here)
Penderecki's Devils!
Penderecki's Threnody
Canticum Canticorum Salomonis- great little piece of music!
Penderecki's symphonies on Naxos
Penderecki- 6th symphony
Penderecki Matrix 5 EMI Classics
Penderecki interview

Awaiting your comments, favorite recordings, etc.!

Maciek
« Last Edit: October 30, 2011, 04:10:13 PM by Maciek »

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2007, 10:19:15 PM »
While I generally agree that the earlier, modernistic stuff is superior & more distinctive, there are plenty of neo-romantic Penderecki pieces I like.

The Sextet comes at the top of the list - really colorful, dramatic & fun piece of chamber music. I also like the Clarinet Quartet, which sounds like a Shostakovich quartet with the clarinet replacing one of the violins. They're both available on a wonderful Naxos disc.

I also like the 3rd Symphony - I think it could become a serious crowd pleaser if given the chance.

I wish he would write more for small ensembles, though. Orchestra + big chorus tends to bring out the bombast in him. And speaking of chorus, I also like a disc of his unaccompanied choral music made by some Finnish choir (I forget the name). The music is wonderfully atmospheric, & the disc as a whole allows you to trace all his stylistic turns from c. 1960 to the 1990s.
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Symphonien

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2007, 11:33:38 PM »
So far the only disk I have is the EMI Matrix 5 one, but I absolutely love it! All the pieces there are great, but I especially like the Threnody, Canticum Canticorum Salomonis and the Dream of Jacob. And also the Capriccio for violin and orchestra. There's a short segment in the middle there which sounds exactly like that corny electronic sci-fi music, where the violin glissandos in the high register. Very amusing...

I think what makes Penderecki interesting is not just the interesting effects he achieves through the orchestra, but the atmosphere he creates through the silence/soft parts in between the more violent sections. They seem all the more startling in contrast. But of course, his extended techniques are amazing; I'm particularly fond of the sound produced near the end of Threnody where he has the instruments bow their tailpieces. The first time I heard it, I was shocked and amazed to hear this sound being produced by string instruments!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 11:36:08 PM by Symphonien »

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2007, 12:05:58 AM »
So far the only disk I have is the EMI Matrix 5 one, but I absolutely love it! All the pieces there are great, but I especially like the Threnody, Canticum Canticorum Salomonis and the Dream of Jacob.

I love The Dream of Jacob! It's a gem. It reminds me of Ligeti's orchestral pieces from the 1960s, but with an added narrative element.
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

"Who knows not strict counterpoint, lives and dies an ignoramus" - CPE Bach

Offline Maciek

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2007, 01:42:53 AM »
The Sextet comes at the top of the list - really colorful, dramatic & fun piece of chamber music.

I've seen the Sextet recommended quite a few times on the old forum, so I probably need to check that out, thanks!

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I also like the Clarinet Quartet

I know the Quartet but I'm not madly in love with it. ;) A few nice passages but as a whole it doesn't really work for me.

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I also like the 3rd Symphony - I think it could become a serious crowd pleaser if given the chance.

Perhaps that's where I should start...

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And speaking of chorus, I also like a disc of his unaccompanied choral music made by some Finnish choir (I forget the name). The music is wonderfully atmospheric, & the disc as a whole allows you to trace all his stylistic turns from c. 1960 to the 1990s.

Yes, his writing for choir is very good. I didn't separately list some of the pieces that make up the Passion but I like them all very much. One later piece I didn't mention that I do enjoy very much is the Song of Cherubim (1986) for choir.

Dream of Jacob is one of my favorites! It's on the list in my first post. Proof that he could still write great pieces of moderate length in the 70s. ;D

Offline not edward

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2007, 03:41:31 AM »
I've seen the Sextet recommended quite a few times on the old forum, so I probably need to check that out, thanks!
Yes, it's a good piece, probably my favourite of his neo-Romantic period. (Possibly of his whole career.)

I have really mixed feelings about Penderecki. He's undoubtably talented, but appears to have terrible issues with musical structure and a dreadful tendency to lapse into pure bombast. (The only time I don't mind the bombast is in the Second Symphony, which is so absurdly over the top that I can enjoy it as a piece of pure camp.)

I never really liked the more modernist pieces that much either. They're striking on the surface, but when I compare them to what Ligeti or Lutoslawski were doing at the same time, the craftsmanship is not remotely on the same level.

I'd agree with those who like his chamber music best: I think the string trio is another strong piece, and the clarinet quintet is pretty good (the second violin sonata is flaccid and compares really poorly to similar pieces by Shostakovich and Schnittke, though, IMO).
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline Maciek

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2007, 03:59:40 AM »
I think you're right, Edward. I'd never listen to Penderecki for the same sort of intellectual/emotional experience/stimulation that Lutosławski gives me. But I love those early pieces as a form of very enjoyable, organized noise - I listen to them a bit as if they were pop music, actually ;). And I don't think comparing those pieces to Ligeti or Lutosławski is exactly fair ;). There are no microstructures in Penderecki - these are all very broad brush strokes. But ultimately, I find them effective and fun. ;D For me - they work.

And yes, his issues with form are definitely very serious... Or maybe he's just managed to attain a plane that most of today's music hasn't reached yet? ;D ;D

greg

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2007, 05:53:30 AM »
Cool way to start off a new forum with a really cool Penderecki thread!

hmmm.... i don't know about the 'slightly pompous demeanor', though. He seems like a really gentle soul, even though he kinda looks like a tough guy. You should hear his voice, lol, i expected this really deep voice, but nah

Offline Cato

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2007, 08:16:42 AM »
What is really annoying is that no company has yet issued Symphony #8.

Interested people will want to see this site:

http://www.penderecki.de/cds/instrumentalmusik/orchester/index.html
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Offline Maciek

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2007, 09:47:21 AM »
Cool way to start off a new forum with a really cool Penderecki thread!

hmmm.... i don't know about the 'slightly pompous demeanor', though. He seems like a really gentle soul, even though he kinda looks like a tough guy. You should hear his voice, lol, i expected this really deep voice, but nah

Well, I really had just one TV interview that I once saw in mind. He seemed more than slightly vain there but maybe it was a bad day or something... ;)

greg

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2007, 11:07:17 AM »
What is really annoying is that no company has yet issued Symphony #8.

Interested people will want to see this site:

http://www.penderecki.de/cds/instrumentalmusik/orchester/index.html
i know, he wrote that awhile ago- they need to get onto it!
and i think by now he should've finished the St.John Passion, though i don't know if it's been performed yet.



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Well, I really had just one TV interview that I once saw in mind. He seemed more than slightly vain there but maybe it was a bad day or something...

are you talking about that interview he did on Korean TV that someone made a thread about? (or was it you?  ;D )

Offline Maciek

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2007, 12:10:38 PM »
Nope. It was on Polish TV, years ago (well, 10 years let's say ;D). He seemed pleasant enough but there was that "I'm a GREAT composer air, listen to all the sagacious pronouncements I make!" air ;).

greg

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2007, 07:04:20 AM »
Nope. It was on Polish TV, years ago (well, 10 years let's say ;D). He seemed pleasant enough but there was that "I'm a GREAT composer air, listen to all the sagacious pronouncements I make!" air ;).
hehe
actually, not long after you posted, I remembered that it was Kevin who made the thread of him being on Korean TV (after all, he does live in Korea)

springrite

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2007, 07:30:17 AM »
I do NOT like his late stuffs at all. While I do have a lot of his music in my collection, the ones that I really love are:

St. Luke's Passion
Cello Concerto #1
Quartet(s?)

Part of Symphony #2 is very good, but I do not love it overall.

Offline MDL

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2007, 12:52:50 AM »
I've found this picture of a recording of Utrenja conducted by Penderecki on Koch, but I can find no other information about it. Has anybody got, or even just seen, this CD? The Koch website is fairly useless, and there's nothing on Amazon.

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2007, 04:25:16 AM »
I heard a performance of the clarinet quartet and found it very effective. It does have a lot of Shostakovich in it. The cellist has to tune the C string down to B flat. At one point I heard a low B coming out of the cello and saw the cellist still with her left hand doing the espressivo thing on the fingerboard.

Offline Maciek

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2007, 05:17:25 AM »
I've found this picture of a recording of Utrenja conducted by Penderecki on Koch, but I can find no other information about it. Has anybody got, or even just seen, this CD? The Koch website is fairly useless, and there's nothing on Amazon.

The picture is very small but (judging by the overall design) it looks very much like a recording from the Wratislavia Cantans festival. I have never seen this one though (the Utrenja that I have is a Polskie Nagrania disc). Tracking it down might prove difficult because Wratislavia Cantans discs have been released by various labels in the past (I have some by DUX and some by CD Accord - the graphic design is exactly the same). But I don't think Koch was ever involved...? ???

Offline Maciek

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2007, 05:22:12 AM »
I searched a little more (Wratislavia Cantans + Utrenja this time), and found this info: PENDRECKI KRZYSZTOF - Utrenja / Jutrznia, Recorded live / Wratislavia Cantans 1997. The performers: Jadwiga Gadulanka - soprano, Vita Nikołaienko - mezzosoprano, Piotr Kusiewicz - tenor, Radosław Żukowski - bass, Gennadij Bezzubienkov - bass, Chór Filharmonii Narodowej, Warszawski Chór Chłopięcy, Orchester des Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, Krzysztof Penderecki. And you were right - it WAS released by Koch (in 1998). There's more info (in Polish, I'm afraid) here.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2007, 05:26:18 AM »
I searched a little more (Wratislavia Cantans + Utrenja this time), and found this info: PENDRECKI KRZYSZTOF - Utrenja / Jutrznia, Recorded live / Wratislavia Cantans 1997. The performers: Jadwiga Gadulanka - soprano, Vita Nikołaienko - mezzosoprano, Piotr Kusiewicz - tenor, Radosław Żukowski - bass, Gennadij Bezzubienkov - bass, Chór Filharmonii Narodowej, Warszawski Chór Chłopięcy, Orchester des Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, Krzysztof Penderecki. And you were right - it WAS released by Koch (in 1998). There's more info (in Polish, I'm afraid) here.

Thanks, this is great to know.  I had no idea there was any Utrenja on CD.  I still have the LP version, c. 1972, with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra...haven't listened to it in many years, but recall liking it immensely.

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Offline Maciek

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Re: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2007, 05:33:01 AM »
Bruce, the Polskie Nagrania disc that I have is still in print. It looks like this:


And it's available in Polish internet stores (haven't checked amazon): merlin and gigant, for example.

It's a very good performance, with an excellent set of performers (including my favorite Polish soprano Stefania Woytowicz), conducted by a Polish contemporary music legend, Andrzej Markowski (he had done an enormous lot of first performances).

Maciek