A Tribute to Krzysztof Penderecki: Marking the Composer's 80th Birthday.
Krzysztof Penderecki's 801'1 birthday in November, 2013 was marked with a celebratory concert featuring four of his most distinguished compositions. Taking place at the Warsaw Teatr, the concert featured performances by the Sinfonia Varsovia, Warsaw Philharmonic, Polish National Opera Choir, Weilki Theater Choir and the Warsaw Boys' Choir, along with friends, advocates and international artists. That concert now appears on an Accentus DVD in co-production with TVP, entitled "Krzysztof Penderecki--80th Birthday Gala Concert" directed by Michael Beyer with outstanding video and audio production.
The concert opens with Penderecki's iconic Threnody (to the victims of Hiroshima) from 1960 and is conducted from memory by Krzysztof Urbariski. The work exemplifies how Penderecki helped define the "sound mass" compositions that dominated his output in the 1960s. Seeing this compelling performance on video will serve as a great example to anyone interested in postwar musical history.
The three works that follow represent Penderecki's radical shift away from the "sound mass" compositions towards a musical language renewed with a sense of tonality. Penderecki explained that his shift in musical language came from the realization that:
"[T]he avant-garde gave one an illusion of universalism. The musical world of Stockhausen, Nono, Boulez and Cage was for us, the young--hemmed in by the aesthetics of socialist realism, then the official canon of our country--a liberation. It opened a new reality, a new vision of art and of the world. I was quick to realize however, that this novelty, this experimentation and formal speculation, is more destructive and constructive. I realized the Utopian quality of its Promethean tone. I was saved from the avant-garde snare of formalism by a return to tradition." (Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski. Liner notes to Krzysztof Penderecki, "Orchestral Works, vol. 1," Naxos 8.554491. 2000)
The dynamic Duo Concertante is a compact work for violin and double bass that showcases the virtuosic talents of violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and bassist Roman Patkolo who premiered the work in 2011. The Concerto Grosso for 3 cellos and orchestra is here performed by Daniel Miiller-Schott, Arto Noras, and Ivan Monighetti under the baton of Charles Dutoit, who premiered the work in 2011.
The final work on the concert is the hour long "Credo" for full choir, 5 soloists, boys' choir, and orchestra under the baton of Valery Geirgiev. The nine sections takes not only the Latin text from the Mass but includes a Polish liturgical hymn, selections from the Psalms, the Gregorian Pange Lingua and text from The Apocalypse. There is inclusiveness in musical style in the Credo as well with hints of jazz, Baroque counterpoint, and Orthodox chant. Penderecki considers his "Credo" to be one of his "most important works" and he was adamant that the work close the concert.
While the DVD comes with a nice booklet (in English, French, German and Polish) that has some descriptive writing about the evening's event, it does not include the text or translations of Penderecki's Credo. The composer provides valuable insights into each work and the various performers in a revealing 15 minute commentary as bonus material on the disc.
Fitchburg State University