Krzysztof PENDERECKI, "Utrenja"
"All I'm interested in is liberating sound beyond all tradition," declared the young Penderecki, who in the 60's formally undermined Communist control of Poland by using mostly textures and tones in avant-garde compositions, and flaunting catholic sources under an athiest state. His two-part "Utrenja" is a challenging and emotional evocation of the "Entombment" (I) and "Resurrection" (II) of Christ. This 1971 duo carried deep metaphorical resonance for the generation chafing under the post-'68 crackdown, and propelled Penderecki's international support.
These are mainly choral pieces, led by three male and two female soloists, backed by a ephemeral choir and very percussive orchestra. They use the voice for emotional textures, not as angelic arias, to convey the anguish of the death of Jesus and astonishment at his return. Voices declare, argue, whisper, and lament. They shift between dissonant thickets of babble, chanted recitations, transcendent tones, penitent solos, fragmented murmurs, alarmed clarions, and white noise. It is intense and strangely beautiful. Sharp, bold orchestral rapids direct the flow of vocals like a rocky stream. This is a music of deep drama and complex emotional range, an epic story played out through a sonic landscape. Far from an aloof exercise, it is breathless, eerie, and alive.
Penderecki's use of driving percussion, dissonant or alien choirs, and tense silences made him a natural for edgy film scores; many of his works have been used to classic effect in such films as Friedkin's "The Exorcist", Kubrik's "The Shining", Lynch's "Wild At Heart" and "Inland Empire", and Cuaron's "Children of Men".