Penderecki: Lacrimosa for Soprano, Chorus & Orchestra; Flute Concerto; Violin Sonata; Sinfonietta for Strings

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COMPOSERS: Penderecki
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Lacrimosa for Soprano, Chorus & Orchestra; Flute Concerto; Violin Sonata; Sinfonietta for Strings
PERFORMER: Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute), etc; Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir, Sinfonia Varsovia/Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Wojnarowski
CATALOGUE NO: SK 66284 DDD
This generously filled CD is an excellent way of getting to grips with the Polish composer Penderecki’s more recent work, with a broad range of expression as well as genre apparent in the music assembled. In many ways the most substantial piece is the Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio of 1993, which encompasses both gentle whimsy and profound exploration. In all these works, including the very early Sonata for Violin and Piano, Penderecki’s engaging use of sonority is a constant delight, though the six-movement Flute Concerto (1992) takes the palm with its cunning instrumental balances and witty juxtapositions.

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The performances of the instrumentalists, recorded at a gala concert, are both idiomatic and assured, especially Jean-Pierre Rampal’s playing of the Flute Concerto. The slightly raw choral renditions of Benedicamus Domino (1992) and the Song of the Cherubim (1987) by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir, while passionately committed to this stirring music, do not really come up to the same high standard. This is not just a recording for connoisseurs of Penderecki’s richly varied output; it can be enjoyed by anyone with a taste for the more ear-catching end of late 20th-century music. Jan Smaczny