Penderecki: String Trio; Quartet for Clarinet & String Trio; Violin Sonata; Cadenza for solo viola; Per Slava; Prelude for solo clarinet

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COMPOSERS: Penderecki
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: String Trio; Quartet for Clarinet & String Trio; Violin Sonata; Cadenza for solo viola; Per Slava; Prelude for solo clarinet
PERFORMER: Ensemble Villa Musica
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 304 0917-2
Krzysztof Penderecki is best known for his large-scale music for orchestra with and without chorus, the earlier pieces explorations of startling new realms of texture and sound-production, the works of the last two decades more neo-Romantic in orientation. This disc is devoted to his less familiar output of chamber and solo music, in a neat (if short) programme devised by the composer. The earliest piece is a long-suppressed Sonata for violin and piano from Penderecki’s student years in Kraków, accomplished in its use of Prokofiev and Bartók as models, without showing any great individuality. But the works from the last decade, the String Trio and the Quartet with clarinet, are almost equally anonymous: even the bleak slow finale of the Quartet, called Abschied (Farewell) and apparently inspired by Schubert’s late String Quintet, hardly plumbs great emotional depths. These ensemble works are interleaved with three solo pieces from the Eighties, all expertly written for their instruments and beautifully shaped. Fine performances by the members of the German Ensemble Villa Musica, well recorded if in an occasionally over-reverberant acoustic, ensure that the disc falls pleasantly on the ear. But, from a one-time pioneer of new sound-worlds, the music is disappointingly bland. Anthony Burton

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