Once considered a major figure of the Polish avant-garde, Krzysztof Penderecki adopted a somewhat milder and more approachable style in the 1980s that has outlasted his experimental phase and established him as a leader of the rapprochement between modernists and the new tonalists. The musical discourse of the Cello Concerto No. 2 (1982) and the Viola Concerto (1983) isn't exactly a throwback to the forms, gestures, or sonorities of the past, but Penderecki employs much of the same dissonant counterpoint and modified tonality that Bartók, Shostakovich, and other tonal modernists used, so his style is quite identifiable within the mainstream of 20th century concert music: moderately daring but recognizable within the symphonic tradition. This familiarity allows violist Grigori Zhislin and cellist Tatjana Vassiljeva a high degree of expressive freedom and immediacy that audiences can respond to, and Antoni Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra are able to provide accompaniment that communicates and enhances the soloists. All the same, the mood of these concertos is quite somber and serious, and the harsh clusters Penderecki employs in the early stage of the Cello Concerto No. 2 may remind listeners that this is, after all, the composer of the Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, and he occasionally shows his roots. Naxos provides fine reproduction in these 2008 studio recordings from Warsaw Philharmonic Hall.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Cello Concerto No. 2|