Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Penderecki: "Christmas" Symphony / Bruzdowicz: Concertos (1989 compi, rec. '81 and '84)

Still working on something to post with an actual Christmas angle... how about Penderecki's 2nd Symphony - it has Christmas in the title, doesn't it?  Well, not really.  Symphony No. 2 might've been written over the winter of 1979-1980, but it doesn't have any official name, and only became informally known as the 'Christmas Symphony' due to the little snippets of Silent Night that Penderecki included, and can be most clearly heard about four minutes into each movement.

Being a big fan of Penderecki at his most fearsome, e.g. Threnody, De Natura Sonoris, Utrenja etc, the 2nd Symphony was initially a bit of a letdown for me, as was apparently the case for listeners in the early 80s - where's the nail-biting sheer terror?  Not to worry though, as soon as I gave it a chance I found out what a fine, full-bodied work it actually was. Enjoy.

That's only half the disc though, and the remainder is a real treat - one of the very few available recordings of any works by Joanna Bruzdowicz (b. 1943, Warsaw), with a star turn from 'Buddha of the bass' Fernando Grillo.  The Concerto for Double-Bass, here in its 1984 premiere, is a brilliantly choppy work that gives the great bassman free rein to saw, rattle and soar over a nicely unsettling ensemble backdrop.  Lastly, Olympia records (who are becoming a bit of an obsession for me at the moment, appearing to have been quite the reissue goldmine for Eastern European/Russian obscurities) very kindly give us another Bruzdowicz concerto; a single-movement Violin vehicle, and very good it is too.

Penderecki / Bruzdowicz

1 comment:

  1. Your reaction/assessment to this recording pretty much match my own, although I still can't shake the sense of disappointment with Penderecki's 'Symphony'. I'll give it another listen, maybe time has helped. But as you say the Joanna Bruzdowicz works are the 'real treat'. Many thanks for this!