Penderecki: Piano Concerto & Flute Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Penderecki
ALBUM TITLE: Penderecki: Piano Concerto & Flute Concerto
WORKS: Piano Concerto (Resurrection); Concerto for flute and orchestra
PERFORMER: Barry Douglas (piano), Lukasz Dlugosz (flute); Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit


Krzysztof Penderecki’s prolific output is rich in concertos, many of them written for the biggest names in the business – Mstislav Rostropovich, Isaac Stern and Anne-Sophie Mutter among them. It was Emanuel Ax who gave the premiere of the Piano Concerto in Philadelphia in 2002, but the work was substantially revised and ‘re-premiered’ by Barry Douglas in Cincinnati five years later.

As he shows in the latest instalment of Antoni Wit’s Penderecki series with the Warsaw Philharmonic, Douglas is ideally suited to this big-boned music, and relishes its darkly imposing and sometimes splashy textures. Right from its edgy opening, the work resembles an angst-ridden, post-modern reply to Rachmaninov Three, not least in its pull towards D minor. A plainsong-like motif, conceived in the aftermath of 9/11, gives the work its Resurrection subtitle.

A very different sort of work, scored for chamber orchestra and involving more integrated dialogue with the soloist, the Flute Concerto was premiered in Lausanne in 1993 by Jean-Pierre Rampal. Here the outstanding young Polish flautist ukasz Dugosz finds all the score’s imaginative colours, while the orchestra is by no means restricted by its ‘chamber’ dimensions. Indeed, Wit draws a kaleidoscopic performance, making this another valuable addition to the Penderecki discography.


John Allison