Friday, December 3

Penderecki: Complete review of quartets: from radical avant-garde lyricism to late-romantic lyricism | Classical music


Krzysztof Penderecki’s four numbered string quartets do not chart the course of his creative development as faithfully as, say, Bartók’s six quartets or Elliott Carter’s five map the progress of those composers. A 40-year gap separated the composition of the Second Quartet in 1968 from the Third, an interval broken only by the tiny quartet movement Der unterbrochen Gedanke, written in 1988 as a tribute to Penderecki’s editor.

Penderecki: full cover of the album Cuartetos.
Penderecki: full cover of the album Cuartetos.

None of them are very substantial by the standards of the quartet’s repertoire: the longest, the third of 2008, lasts 17 minutes, the shortest, the fourth, only six. But when listened to in sequence, they give a sense of the great stylistic distance his music ran between works that placed Penderecki firmly in the forefront of the European avant-garde in the 1960s, such as Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, and the Passion According to Saint Luke and the Neo-Romantic of his later music, which began in the mid-1970s with his first violin concerto.

Even by the standards of its day, however, the First Quartet, released in 1962, seems like an astonishingly radical piece, dissolving the traditional sonic world of the string quartet into a confusion of tuned and untuned sounds, using a wide range of effects. and game techniques. The Second Quartet, composed in 1968 when Penderecki was working on his first opera, Loudun’s Devils, may not be as aggressive as its predecessor, but the contrast to later works in the Silesian Quartet The study remains almost shocking, whether in the four movements of the Third, Blätter eines nicht geschrieben Tagebuches (Leaves from an unwritten diary), or in the two movements of the Sixth, music that seems to evoke 19th century models such as Schubert. and Brahms as well as those of the early twentieth century, such as Bartók and Shostakovich.

It is a great credit to the Silesians that they seem as confident in negotiating the groups and glissandos of the early quatrains as they are in refining the traditional textures and lyrical phrases of the later ones. And in addition to the five works for string quartet, they include Penderecki’s 1983 clarinet quartet in which they are joined by Piotr Szymyślik; there, if anything, the echoes of Brahms are even more evident.

The other selection of this week

There is more Polish music from the 20th century by Chandos in the violinist’s last recital Jennifer pike. The oldest works on her show with the pianist Petr Limonov They are Karol Szymanowski’s Sonata for Violin Op 3, which sometimes sounds eerily like Elgar, along with his transcriptions for violin and piano of three whims by Paganini, and the Sonata in D minor by Poldowski, which was Irène’s adopted professional name. Régine Wieniawska, daughter of the great 19th century violinist and composer Henryk Wieniawski. Pike brings a true late-romantic touch and flair to all of those works, as well as Grażyna Bacewicz’s little solo Caprice, and a Poldowski tango that closes the record.


www.theguardian.com

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