Penderecki wrote music for string quartet over a period of 56 years. His StringQuartetNo.1was written in the same year that he achieved international success with Threnody (Naxos8.554491), and includes a wide range of playing techniques reflective of the avant-garde. String Quartet No. 2 reveals the influence of Ligeti, while No.3is a personal, even autobiographical work. In No. 4 there are modal or even folk inflections, in writing that is both limpid and abrasive. The eventful Derunterbrochene Gedanke completes Penderecki’s music for quartet, while the String Trio exemplifies his music’s motoric energy.
Penderecki's First Quartet pointed to his fascination with hard-edged atonality and 12-note influences, the one movement score expressed in pizzicato and lasting just a little over six minutes. With his Second Quartet he had begun to move away from astringency to a more legato quality but with atonality to signpost things to come. There was to be a gap of twenty years before the more lengthy Third appeared in 2008, and it was period when he ‘took stock’ of the way music was going. At the same time his music was moving to an even more communicative melodic period we experience to a final degree in the Fourth of 2016. Now in a more ‘traditional’ two movements, and with a Vivo finale, its style has a melodic starting point. Integrated into these changes were two further works for strings, an extremely brief String Quartet from 1988 given a title Der unterbrochene Gedanke (The Interrupted Thought), and a String Trio from 1990. Both fit neatly into the changing moods of the quartets that surround them. They are here performed by the much acclaimed British-based Tippett Quartet who encompass these changes with a conviction that would place the performances as my number one choice and in quite superb sound.
– David's Review Corner (David Denton)