This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
This is an absolutely magnificent disc. Penderecki's First violin concerto is a grand work, evocative but not merely imitative of the Romantic concerto tradition. It was one of the first pieces in which he turned his back on the avant-garde of the day (1977), and for the best of reasons. The violin is, above all, a melody instrument, and so any successful concerto requires that it play melodies. And so it does here, very beautiful ones too. That said, the music is still dark, anguished, deeply moving, and almost uniformly tragic in tone. Penderecki has conducted recordings of it before, all of themRead more quite good, but this is the first that vies successfully with the classic Stern/Skrowaczewski premiere recording. Robert Kabara is an excellent, impassioned soloist, playing with full-bodied tone and fearless technical command. Penderecki's conducting is a touch slower and heavier than Skrowaczewski's, but God knows the music can take it.
The Horn Concerto (2008) will come as a revelation to most listeners, I am sure. The "Winterreise" of the title is not the bleak misery of the Schubert song cycle, but rather the change of seasons: sleigh bells make a regular appearance in the percussion section, and Penderecki doesn't slight the horn's hunting associations either. Again, there is some ravishing melodic material, but also a lyrical charm, even whimsy, that we don't normally associate with this composer. Certainly there is no finer 20th-century concerto for the instrument: this is a masterpiece that you will return to often, and the performance here is entirely worthy of the work. It's great to see Penderecki continue to enlarge and deepen his art in new and surprising directions. Channel Classics' sonics, whether stereo or multichannel, are state of the art.