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Penderecki: Symphonies & Other Orchestral Works

Symphonies & Other Orchestral Works / Various
Release Date: 08/28/2012 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8505231   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Krzysztof Penderecki
Performer:  Aga MikolajOlga PasichnykWieslaw OchmanEwa Marciniec,   ... 
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra KatowiceKatowice Polish Radio/TV Symphony OrchestraWarsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 5 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Antoni Wit's ongoing cycle of Penderecki orchestral works is yet another of those truly outstanding Naxos projects that's unlikely to get the attention it deserves. The music isn't easy, or popular, but Wit is a marvellous conductor in this repertoire, and his unfailingly intense and idiomatic performances look to become the standard by which all others will be judged. This new release just may be the best so far.


The Seven Gates, though largely unthreatening in its use of consonant harmony, is a very difficult work to perform. The choral and solo writing is tiring (if often incredibly moving and impressive), and the presence of a lengthy narration may bother some listeners. In
Read more my opinion Penderecki is one of the very few composers who can pull it off, and here he does so magnificently.


Perhaps the most wonderful thing about this recording is its ability to be serious (isn't Penderecki always?) without sounding labored, or relentlessly heavy. Partly it's a function of really exceptional choral singing and a uniformly high-quality bunch of soloists. The rest, though, is Wit's ideal pacing and that feeling for timbre and texture that made his Messiaen Turangalila-Symphonie so memorable. In short, even if you don't normally warm to Penderecki, you probably will find this disc surprisingly appealing. The sung texts are available on Naxos' website, but it's just as much fun to simply wallow in the evocative sonorities that Penderecki gets from his very large vocal and instrumental forces. Excellent engineering makes the music both rage and shimmer as it must. A splendid release in every way! [1/24/2007]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Reviewing Symphony no 7


Penderecki deserves a great deal of credit for turning his back on the avant-garde of the 1960s and '70s, recognizing much of it for the music dead-end that it has turned out to be. His "return to Romanticism" was prophetic, but at the same time we must remember that there really are only two kinds of music: good and bad, and the fact that some music might be more conventionally listenable doesn't make it inherently better. On the whole, Penderecki always has been a very talented composer, deeply concerned with serious expressive issues, but this hasn't prevented some of his neo-Romantic works from sounding relentlessly heavy, grey, and dull, nor does his change of style diminish the sonic thrill of his earlier, more radical pieces. He did excellent work in all periods, as you can plainly hear on this marvelous new release.

The Eighth Symphony, "Songs of Evanescence", actually is a cycle of 12 German poems by the likes of Rilke, Goethe, Eichendorf, and Hesse. Far from being uniformly grim, the texts (available on Naxos' website) speak of the cycle of life, death, and renewal in a manner not too dissimilar from Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (save that the entire work lasts scarcely longer than Mahler's last song, "The Farewell"). The music is beautiful: lyrically melodic, sumptuously scored, and highly varied, with harmony that ranges from the sweetly diatonic to ferociously dissonant, everywhere responsive to the text. This piece, which requires solo soprano, mezzo, baritone, and full chorus, must rank among Penderecki's finest recent creations, and I easily could see it becoming a repertory item.

Dies Irae, dating from 1967, is a work of Penderecki's radical phase. As the title suggests, it's a dark, menacing, but sonically enthralling piece that forces both vocal and orchestral forces to make some of the most hair-raising sounds in Western music. It's interesting how with the passage of time much of the music's perceived difficulty has evaporated, leaving behind a raw-nerved, expressionistic intensity that's quite special and all the more moving for being very much of its time and place (aren't all classics?). The brief Psalms of David, from the late 1950s, helped to establish Penderecki's credentials as a major composer. The percussive last movement might strike today's listeners as almost Latin-sounding, though of course the harmonic language is more acerbic, but the music exudes the freshness of a powerful new voice on its first flights of fancy.

Antoni Wit's Naxos recordings, particularly those of contemporary music, have been almost uniformly splendid, and this one is no exception. He summons terrific playing from the orchestra, has a brilliant and enthusiastic choir at his disposal, and has assembled a very impressive team of soloists, especially soprano Michaela Kaune, baritone Wojtek Drabowicz, and tenor Richard Minkiewicz. Singing this stuff isn't easy, but they make it seem so. The sonics capture the music's massive climaxes as well as its more ethereal moments in natural balance, and with plenty of head room. In short, this disc makes an ideal introduction to Penderecki's art, and to his vocal music in particular. It covers his entire creative life thus far, and offers compelling evidence of just how fine a composer he was, and remains.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Reviewing Symphony no 8
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1973; Poland 
2.
Symphony no 5 by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Poland 
3.
Symphony no 3 by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Poland 
4.
Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; Poland 
5.
Fluorescences by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; Poland 
6.
De natura sonoris no 2 by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; Poland 
7.
Symphony no 2 "Christmas" by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Katowice Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979-1980; Poland 
8.
Symphony no 4 "Adagio" by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Katowice Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; Poland 
9.
Symphony no 7 "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performer:  Aga Mikolaj (Soprano), Olga Pasichnyk (Soprano), Wieslaw Ochman (Tenor),
Ewa Marciniec (Alto), Romuald Tesarowicz (Bass), Boris Carmeli (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995-1996; Poland 
Venue:  Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Poland 
Length: 60 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
10.
Symphony no 8 "Lieder Vergänglichkeit" by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performer:  Wojciech Drabowicz (Baritone), Agnieszka Rehlis (Mezzo Soprano), Michaela Kaune (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005; Poland 
Date of Recording: 03/2006 
Venue:  National Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw 
Length: 36 Minutes 28 Secs. 
11.
Dies Irae by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performer:  Ryszard Minkiewicz (Tenor), Anna Lubanska (Mezzo Soprano), Jaroslav Brek (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; Poland 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  National Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw 
Length: 25 Minutes 22 Secs. 
12.
Psalm of David by Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; Poland 
Date of Recording: 11/2006 
Venue:  National Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw 
Length: 10 Minutes 55 Secs. 

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