- Composer: Penderecki
- Audio CD (April 1 2000)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Ncl
- ASIN: B00004HYN6
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #64,423 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|1. Symphony No. 5|
|2. Symphony No. 1: Arche I|
|3. Symphony No. 1: Dynamis I|
|4. Symphony No. 1: Dynamis II|
|5. Symphony No. 1: Arche II|
If you are generally unfamiliar with the atonal experience, this CD is a very good place to start. Symphony No 5 will ease you into the genre and No 1 will immerse you fully without beating you over the head with exoticism.
An old friend of mine once said, "to hear the music of Penderecki is to hear the voice of God." Religious overtones aside, there is no doubt that his work is some of the most interesting and pleasing of the modern genre. At times, his music seems to convey motion or color more than just sound. I was pleased when I heard this CD for the first time, and surprised at its cost: the $6 price tag gets you three or four times that in quality of sound, engineering, and musicianship.
Penderecki wrote his Symphony No. 5 in 1991-92 and decided to leave it as one gigantic 37-minute movement instead of breaking it up into smaller sections, but there are definite changes in tempo that indicate a passage to a new section within the big movement. The orchestra is typically big - 100 players - with many important parts for trumpets and percussion throughout. The work begins with strings and tam-tam echoing the sounds of a Korean folksong, and this melody permeates the entire work. Also noticeable are references to other Penderecki works, most notably to his Flute Concerto written in the same year. The last five minutes of the work are about as dramatic as any symphony has ever been, and the ultra-percussive ending will leave you breathless.
Penderecki's Symphony No. 1 dates from 1972-73 and is typical of his middle period - a blend of the avant-garde with post-romanticism. The beginning bars of the four-movement symphony are scored for percussion instruments only, with strings and brass soon signalling in orchestral chaos. The second movement is full of microtonal glissandi and strange sound effects, and despite this, is actually quite listenable. The third movement is full of unusual string textures and is highlighted by blaring brass and throbbing timpani. The final movement returns to the percussive sounds of the symphony's beginning and concludes almost inaudibly with low notes on the double bass.Read more ›
Encountering one of Penderecki's symphonies for the fist time, having known his unabashedly modernist St. Luke Passion and such orchestral works as Polymorphia, I was very surprised by Symphony No. 5. It is largely conventional in language, having episodes that remind me of any number of modern symphonists, from Simpson to Honneger. Once, about nine minutes in, a vividly painted image seems to recall a Sibelian frozen vista and then it shades into a Wagnerian forest scene. Far from an exercise in derivation, however, there is a very individual personality at work here. All of the directness of purpose and clarity of expression that I value in Penderecki's early music is present in this 1992 score. It is a powerful, dramatic and substantive work.
Symphony No. 1 returns to the world of bent notes, sour glissandi and violent, bloody tone clusters we know and love from early Penderecki, though by this date (1973) his style had already started to change. Still, like the 5th, this thirty minute symphony is a dark and moving story told in finely contrasted episodes of subtlety orchestrated and at times arrestingly dramatic music. Penderecki is a part of the great lineage of symphonists and the form is richer for the inclusion of these two works.