Tim Ashley 

Penderecki: Fonogrammi; Horn Concerto; De Natura Sonoris I etc – review

The highlight of this disc of Penderecki's shorter orchestral works is the startling, eruptive De Natura Sonoris I, says Tim Ashley

The latest album in Antoni Wit's comprehensive Penderecki series for Naxos brings together six of the composer's shorter orchestral works. They cover the entirety of his career, so if you play them in chronological order, you get a fair idea of Penderecki's development from avant-garde rebel to establishment neo-Romantic. The best-known work here is the most recent – the 2008 Horn Concerto, inspired by Penderecki's memories of a childhood hunting trip with his uncle. It's handsomely played by Jennifer Montone, though she doesn't eclipse the savage beauty of Radovan Vlatković's performance on Channel Classics with Penderecki himself conducting. Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic are marvellously assured elsewhere, though the music is uneven. Anaklasis (1960) and Fonogrammi (1961) feel discursive despite their brevity, while the blend of classical severity and harmonic violence in Partita (1971) now seems unwieldy. The Awakening of Jacob, from 1974, impresses with its intense nobility. Best by far, though, is De Natura Sonoris I (1966) – eruptive, jazz-inflected and startling in its impact.


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