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HUMANITARIAN ANXIETY

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'It is hard to imagine more idiomatically persuasive performances.'

Penderecki orchestral works -
with PETER DALE

 

Penderecki's Second Symphony of 1980 marks the high point of his journey away from the experimental iconoclasm of his youth. It is subtitled The Christmas Symphony, to which ends it quotes a little and broods much upon Gruber's Silent Night, but it is not religious sentiment so much as humanitarian anxiety which informs the musical thought. The Polish musicians seem intuitively to understand that. The results here are massively impressive.

Penderecki Orchestral Works Vol 3 (c) 2000 HNH International Ltd

The composer is one of the great orchestrators of the 20th century, but not with the carnival palette of a Ravel or the old-masterly patina of a Respighi. The colours here are predominantly sombre and sometimes lowering, but often luminous too. Chiaroscuro is his mode. There is a Shostakovian, tight-lipped brute power to much of the writing, and an enormously effective resort to tensely discursive contrapuntal procedures whose lines darkly explore the possibilities of restoring an old hope (Christmas) but resolutely resist the sirens of the easy answers. The fugato textures provoke the disturbance of complacencies even while the tonal centres remain secure. If this is Christmas music then it evokes the 'rough beast, its hour come round at last' of Yeats' The Second Coming rather than any conventional sweet pieties.

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Copyright © 18 March 2001 Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - NAXOS 8.554492

PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM CROTCHET

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PETER DALE REVIEWS PENDERECKI ORCHESTRAL WORKS VOL 1

 

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