- Audio CD (29 Sept. 2008)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Naxos
- ASIN: B001F1YBUI
- Other Editions: MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 233,484 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Penderecki: Works for Cellos and Orchestra
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Best known for his choral and symphonic works, Krzysztof Penderecki has also written many fascinating concertante pieces. His Concerto Grosso No. 1 makes full use of the potential for interplay between three solo cellos and orchestra. The Largo for Cello and Orchestra, actually a fully-fledged concerto, was composed for Mstislav Rostropovich. These works contrast with the virtuoso Sonata for Cello and Orchestra, an ironic, even playful piece unconventionally scored for a large orchestra which includes two bongos, three wood blocks, whip, claves, guiro and tam-tam.
''A phenomenal cellist, one of the best I've ever heard.'' --Krzysztof Penderecki on Ivan Monighetti
Top Customer Reviews
A thirty-five minute concerto grosso by the same composer who gave us Threnody and A Polish Requiem? And for three cellos at that! It must be a world's first and in the hands of the maestro I expected it to sound like a spectacle. It did not. Not three cellos battling against the other; nor one trying to outsmart the other in volume, speed or virtuosity. Most of the time one does not even realize there are three instead of just one. But after having overcome this slight disappointment, I was left with an impressive work. It was written in 2000, just a year previous to his very excellent Piano Concerto, and is as passionate and lyrical. Actually, I dare say the romantic parts of it could have been written at the beginning of the 20th, not the 21st century. Not that all is milk and honey, this is challenging music, with lots of tension, and soloists and orchestra quirky at times - just as it should, so not overdone. And the obligatory solo's are fortunately not so many or too long.
With cello the composer is on known territory, so it comes as no surprise he wrote a Largo for Cello and Orchestra 3 years later - the crux being that none of the 3 movements is a largo. As a whole it sounds less melodic so less catchy and a bit directionless, the accent more with the solo instrument than in the concerto. This one sounds much more like it was written thirty years ago.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This disc is incredible. Sure, a lot of Penderecki is starting to sound the same by this point -- those jagged little chromatic runs he sprinkles EVERYWHERE, everything is so serious and solemn, that infatuation with tritone is getting well-worn (it was well-worn after Britten couldn't give it up in his War Requiem, but no matter), and let's not forget his love for the one-note ostinato pounding over and over again that always makes an appearance. But the virtuosity that comes with his string works is present here, just like his Violin Concertos.
The Concerto Grosso is written for 3 cellos, but I don't think Penderecki does that great of a job giving the 3 soloists a lot of opportunities to shine individually or as a group -- with the exception of a cadenza, they often sound like one instrument or just part of the masses; Penderecki clearly has a strong preference for heavy bass from the orchestra in general. It's still hugely dramatic and immediately accessible.
Largo is similar in nature to the Concerto Grosso (not surprising since they were written a year apart), except the Largo has just one solo cellist. If you're casually breezing through the CD, you might mistake the Largo as an extension of the Concerto Grosso. It is written as a large arc with two "Adagio" movements on the outside and an "Andante con moto" in the middle. However, the middle movement has an extended episode that pits the soloist against the orchestra that's hard to call as slow as andante. It's ferocious and brilliant and a welcome break to the brooding quietness from the rest of work.
The Sonata for Cello and Orchestra showcases Penderecki's genius during his avant-garde years. Written in 1964, it was written not too long after Polymorphia and the Threnody. It sounds similar to other avant-garde works of the time -- its two movement structure with different characters in each movement is similar to Lutoslawski's Symphony No. 2 (Hesitant and Direct), and the careful balance and study of color and dissonance suggests Ligeti stole a few ideas when he wrote his own Cello Concerto in 1966. The first movement of this Sonata feels introductory; ideas come and slowly melt from the soloist to the orchestra. A lot of pitch-bending slides make it a surreal experience, but ideas come and go much faster than Ligeti's works from this period (Atmospheres, Cello Concerto), which adds dramatic effect and provides momentum for the work. The second movement is more aggressive and capricious. While not "light-hearted" it shows flashes of cynical wit with some of its flourishes. The ending percussive gestures from the celllist and orchestra are the best way to round out the disc -- it makes me want to listen to everything all over again.
If you're a fan of Penderecki's string works and Violin Conertos, this disc cannot be missed. And if you're not, this disc will almost certainly convince you the future of classical music isn't entirely bleak.
Concerto Grosso No. 1 for Three Cellos and Orchestra (2000 -- 35'28)
Ivan Monighetti, Arto Noras, and Rafal Kwatkowski, cello
Largo for Cello and Orchestra (2003 -- 27'29)
Arto Noras, cello
Sonata for Cello and Orchestra (1964 -- 11'11)
Ivan Monighetti, cello
The two longer and more recent works are not available elsewhere, though there is no indication that they are premiere recordings. The shorter 1964 piece is also available in a 1972 recording on the Ionisation (VoxBox) 2-disc set of Varese, Penderecki, and Ligeti. It was premiered in 1964 by Siegfried Palm with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, led by Ernest Bour. This new recording, which is slightly longer, is the better of the two.
The "Sonata" is lighter and more humorous than the more recent, more solemn Penderecki. As Richard Whitehouse says in the liner notes, it "...leavens its virtuosity with ironic and even playful qualities unusual for contemporary music of this period." The programming works well, placing it last and so finishing on a lighter note. The cellist, Ivan Monighetti, was a student of Rostropovich.
The three-movement "Largo" of 2003, the only true concerto of the three pieces, is to my ears the major work here, a beautiful, moving commission for Mstislav Rostropovich, who premiered it in June 2005 with the Wiener Philharmoniker. Penderecki breaks no new stylistic ground, but produces a powerful, emotionally affecting work in the grave, post-Shostakovich manner he has been pursuing since the late Seventies. Arto Noras, the Finnish cellist, is outstanding, and though this is the only available recording, I can scarcely imagine a better performance. Apparently Penderecki decided against calling the work "Cello Concerto No. 3" because it lacks a fast movement.
The opening piece, the "Concerto Grosso No. 1 for Three Cellos and Orchestra," is, I find, less successful. Compared to the "Largo," it seems busy -- the lines are not as clear and compelling. Perhaps I haven't listened to it enough for the patterns to become recognizable. There are six movements, with more variety of tempo than the "Largo," but the piece is played continuously. Rafal Kwiatkowski joins Noras and Monighetti, the only Polish cellist of the three.
This is a fine set of cello music, and a fine set of Penderecki music. The two recent works reveal Penderecki's ongoing vitality as a composer years after he departed the avant-garde.
(verified purchase from a large brick-and-mortar bookstore)