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Sextet/Clarinet Quartet


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Product Details

  • Composer: Penderecki
  • Audio CD (Aug. 19 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B00009XBJ8
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #101,712 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Allegro Moderato
2. Larghetto
3. Notturno: Adagio
4. Scherzo: Vivacissimo
5. Serenade: Tempo Di Valse
6. Abschied: Larghetto
7. Allegro
8. Andante Cantabile
9. Allegro Ma Non Troppo
10. Sarabande
11. Serenade
12. Scherzo
13. Notturno
14. Prelude For Solo Clarinet

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison on Sept. 29 2003
Format: Audio CD
Can you imagine a direct line of descent from Schubert to Mahler to Shostakovich to Penderecki? Yes, at first thought it seems unlikely. But the main piece on this disc--at 32 minutes it takes up almost half of the CD's playing time--the Sextet for Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Viola and Piano traces a trajectory that makes this descent fairly obvious. The first of the Sextet's two movements, the Allegro moderato, begins with a tramping low A-flat ostinato from the piano that suggests a young fellow setting out on a walking journey not unlike that of Schubert's hero in 'Winterreise.' His thoughts and comments are primarily expressed by the two wind soloists in the sextet, the clarinet and the horn. He starts out rather naively and with bumptiously optimistic horn tunes but soon begins to make increasingly sarcastic comments; to accomplish this Penderecki uses the clarinet in its highest register, a technique pioneered for this very purpose by Mahler who often pushed the notion to its limits by using the the wailing of the even higher E-flat clarinet. Of course, this is one of the Mahlerian traits that Shostakovich made such effective use of in his symphonies and operas. The movement winds down a bit, although there are weak attempts along the way to express the young man's high spirits. These attempts become as hysterical as they are hopeless, as if the protagonist knows his efforts are in vain, that the world's woes will beat him down.
The second movement, Larghetto, is twice as long as the first, at 21½ minutes. It is generally melancholy, resigned, increasingly at peace with the world. It features extended solos for each of the instruments, mostly in a songful but mournful mode.
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Format: Audio CD
The first time I heard the Sextet was in the US or NY premiere at Allice Tully Hall last year, played by Fred Sherry, and other members of Juillard graduates/teachers. I was not that impressed with this new piece then, but I thought it was mainly because the players were under-rehearsed and it sounded like a run-through busy trying to play in time (in fact I thought they couldn't even do that) so it was overall a slack performance and not Penderecki's own fault. I was right, for after listening to such an engaging performance from this disc, I realise this is a real masterpiece. And today I just listened to a live performance at Columbia (2nd performance in NY, I believe) and it sounded so much more gripping and moving than the Juillard performance, confirming that Penderecki has lost none his expressive nuances, despite his long departure from the new uncanny sound world of his 60's to this late etheral neo-romantic phrase. Yes, romantic music this is, as demonstrated from the opening rhythmic figure from the piano and the 3 note horn motive, which at first sounded rather cliche on first hearing. But then the music developed into something much richer and more imaginative. Throughout the first movement there are the restless twists from the clarinet, the agitated strings and the defiant sounds of the French horn and at times it seem sto plunch into a dance macabre, not unlike the satirical dances of Shostakovich, Then of course the famous Pendereckian chromatic runs are abundant throughout. The solemn second movement, the core of this piece is an extended elegie, interupted throughout with agitated cries and more ironic/cynical episodes.Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A memorable sextet Oct. 11 2003
By Adrian T. Chan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The first time I heard the Sextet was in the US or NY premiere at Allice Tully Hall last year, played by Fred Sherry, and other members of Juillard graduates/teachers. I was not that impressed with this new piece then, but I thought it was mainly because the players were under-rehearsed and it sounded like a run-through busy trying to play in time (in fact I thought they couldn't even do that) so it was overall a slack performance and not Penderecki's own fault. I was right, for after listening to such an engaging performance from this disc, I realise this is a real masterpiece. And today I just listened to a live performance at Columbia (2nd performance in NY, I believe) and it sounded so much more gripping and moving than the Juillard performance, confirming that Penderecki has lost none his expressive nuances, despite his long departure from the new uncanny sound world of his 60's to this late etheral neo-romantic phrase. Yes, romantic music this is, as demonstrated from the opening rhythmic figure from the piano and the 3 note horn motive, which at first sounded rather cliche on first hearing. But then the music developed into something much richer and more imaginative. Throughout the first movement there are the restless twists from the clarinet, the agitated strings and the defiant sounds of the French horn and at times it seem sto plunch into a dance macabre, not unlike the satirical dances of Shostakovich, Then of course the famous Pendereckian chromatic runs are abundant throughout. The solemn second movement, the core of this piece is an extended elegie, interupted throughout with agitated cries and more ironic/cynical episodes. Throughout there is a sense of doom and with it's haunting horn calls (off stage most of the time, especially effective in live performance) gives a great sense of nostalgia, and even of inevitable catastrophy. Towards the coda, the pleaing cries from the cello gives way to a grim and stoic close.
The rest of the items are also very well played, especially the clarinet quartet, played with great intensity throughout. Highly recommended, especially given it's budget price.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Penderecki's Instrumental 'Winterreise' and More Sept. 29 2003
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Can you imagine a direct line of descent from Schubert to Mahler to Shostakovich to Penderecki? Yes, at first thought it seems unlikely. But the main piece on this disc--at 32 minutes it takes up almost half of the CD's playing time--the Sextet for Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Viola and Piano traces a trajectory that makes this descent fairly obvious. The first of the Sextet's two movements, the Allegro moderato, begins with a tramping low A-flat ostinato from the piano that suggests a young fellow setting out on a walking journey not unlike that of Schubert's hero in 'Winterreise.' His thoughts and comments are primarily expressed by the two wind soloists in the sextet, the clarinet and the horn. He starts out rather naively and with bumptiously optimistic horn tunes but soon begins to make increasingly sarcastic comments; to accomplish this Penderecki uses the clarinet in its highest register, a technique pioneered for this very purpose by Mahler who often pushed the notion to its limits by using the the wailing of the even higher E-flat clarinet. Of course, this is one of the Mahlerian traits that Shostakovich made such effective use of in his symphonies and operas. The movement winds down a bit, although there are weak attempts along the way to express the young man's high spirits. These attempts become as hysterical as they are hopeless, as if the protagonist knows his efforts are in vain, that the world's woes will beat him down.
The second movement, Larghetto, is twice as long as the first, at 21½ minutes. It is generally melancholy, resigned, increasingly at peace with the world. It features extended solos for each of the instruments, mostly in a songful but mournful mode. There is an effort at struggle early on, but increasingly the piece slows down, becomes peaceful, and finally etherealizes to a pianissimo widely-spaced chord. The final minutes of the movement sound for all the world like something from late Shostakovich, say the Michelangelo Songs. There is a wisdom here, an acceptance of the reality of life and its inevitabilities.
I truly believe that the Sextet, written in 2000, is one of the first masterpieces of the 21st century and that it will survive as such. This is its first recording. May it not be its last.
The other pieces on this disc represent the earliest and latest productions of Penderecki, and they give us an insight into the progression of his style, although there is nothing here from his middle period in which he was more interested in textural writing. 'Three Miniatures for Clarinet and Flute'(1956), which last only a total of four minutes, are Webernian in their concision, although the technique is perhaps more like Bartók. We then skip to 1987 for 'Prelude for Solo Clarinet' (1987), written for composer Paul Patterson's fortieth birthday. It is a somber lento sostenuto, played gorgeously by clarinetist Michel Lehtiec.
The 'Clarinet Quartet' (1993) comprises three movements (Notturno, Scherzo, Serenade) followed by a fourth movement (Abschied) that is as long as the first three put together. The 'Abschied' is surely an homage to Mahler's similarly named movement from 'Das Lied von der Erde,' as it has the same mood and wistful fade-out as the Mahler.
'Divertimento for Solo Cello' (1994), written for Mstislav Rostropovich, has echoes of Shostakovich's solo cello works written for Slava. The movements are Sarabande, Serenade, Scherzo, and Notturno. Double stops, contrapuntal writing and harmonics abound. There are some amusing col legno and pizzicato effects in the scherzo. The culmination of the suite is the final Notturno which exchoes (or since it was written earlier, presages) the final movement of the Sextet.
There are some confusing errors in the enclosed booklet. First, there is indication that a recording of 'Three Miniatures for Violin and Piano' is included; it is not. Also, the date of the 'Prelude for Solo Clarinet' is given as 1954; a check of Grove clarifies that it was written in 1987 (when, indeed, dedicatee British composer Paul Patterson was forty, as he was born in 1947).
That said, however, I must say that this is an outstanding release. The three Finnish musicians (Arto Noras, cello; Markus Maskuniitty, horn; Juhani Lagerspretz, piano) and the three French musicians (Régis Pasquier, violin; Bruno Pasquier, viola; and Michel Lethiec, clarinet) are masters of this music. Naxos provides sterling lifelike sound.
For years I ignored the music of Penderecki because I was not fond of his middle period compositions, but for the last twenty years he has been writing some of the most interesting things around, and his devotion recently to chamber music is all the more attractive since he had not concentrated on this genre until recently.
Recommended.
TT=67:48
Scott Morrison
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Two chamber work masterpieces! Aug. 2 2013
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This 2003 Naxos disc presents five chamber music compositions by Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933), and two of them are major works and masterpieces of the composer.

Recorded in Finland in June 2001, the musicians are Finnish and French: Michel Lethiec on clarinet, Regis Pasquier on violin, and Bruno Pasquier on viola (presumably his brother), are French, while Arto Noras on cello, Markus Maskuniitty on French horn, and Juhani Lagerspetz on piano are Finnish. The musicians were apparently assembled just for this recording session as there is no indication that they play together in an ongong ensemble.

The "Sextet" (2000 -- 31'39) and the "Clarinet Quartet" (1993 -- 15'55) are the major works, both absolutely stunning. The "Sextet" is in two movements, with a moderate tempo first movement, and then a longer Larghetto. The "Clarinet Quartet" is in four movements, including a bracing scherzo. These are not avant-garde works by any means -- Penderecki left that behind decades ago. But they are more intricate and challenging than many of his late works, which tend to pursue an accessible neoromantic style and a tragic emotional tone.

The unusual instrumentation of the "Sextet" is used fantastically to create compelling passages and moods. I find the "Clarinet Quartet" to be even more impressive, with truly dazzling writing for the clarinet and for the interlocking voices of the quartet. Penderecki has not focused on chamber music, tending to pursue larger canvasses including choral symphonies and operas, but these two works suggest that he may have underplayed one of his strengths.

The other three works, while not on quite the same level, are all quite fine: one for solo cello, written for Slava Rostropovich; one a short piece for solo clarinet; and one a duet for clarinet and piano.

I listen to a lot of contemporary and avant-garde music, but I keep my ears open to all styles of music. The "Sextet" and "Clarinet Quartet" by Penderecki are examples of music so finely crafted that it makes absolutely no difference what style they are written in. The music sounds universal and timeless in its virtuosity and emotional expressiveness.

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