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MusicWeb International, May 2013

PENDERECKI, K.: Piano Concerto, “Resurrection” / Flute Concerto (B. Douglas, Dlugosz, Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit) 8.572696
PENDERECKI, K.: Fonogrammi / Horn Concerto / Partita / The Awakening of Jacob / Anaklasis / De natura sonoris No. 1 (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit) 8.572482
PENDERECKI, K.: Sinfonietta Nos. 1 and 2 / Capriccio / 3 Pieces in Old Style / Serenade (Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Wit) 8.572212

The latest addition is a disc showcasing two of the composer’s finest concertos, the ten-movement Resurrection for piano and the more intimately scored one for flute. With the inimitable Barry Douglas at the keyboard…in the first and young Polish flautist Lukasz Dlugosz in the second, on paper these already look safe bets, especially with Antoni Wit directing his rarely unimpressive Warsaw Philharmonic. In practice, these works are masterpieces. The earthy, minatory Piano Concerto is one of the most exciting places to begin an exploration of Penderecki’s music, although the Flute Concerto is arguably more accessible, being altogether gentler and, given Penderecki’s earlier reputation, surprisingly tonal.

…no one can criticise the standard of music-making on any of the three releases. Besides Douglas and Dlugosz there are stand-out individual performances from Urszula Janik, Jennifer Montone and Jean-Louis Capezzali. Above all, Wit and the WPO, totally at home in this uncompromising repertoire, combine to produce a series of outstanding performances, technically and expressively comparable to, sometimes even surpassing, those of Penderecki himself conducting different orchestras on EMI Classics and DUX. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Hurwitz, March 2013

Both of the woodwind soloists, Artur Pachlewski (clarinet) and Jean-Louis Capezzali (oboe), play exceptionally well, especially Capezzali, who exhibits frankly insane agility in the Capriccio. Antoni Wit, as always, is the most reliable possible guide to this repertoire, combining accuracy with warmth and expressive intensity. Somehow he does so without making an ugly sound, and believe me that’s not always easy. Of course it helps that the Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra has a particularly rich-sounding string section. Excellently engineered, this latest release is well up to the high standards of Naxos’ Penderecki series. © Read complete review

Steve Schwartz, July 2012

Penderecki should thank whatever gods there be that Antoni Wit has decided to champion his work. I’ve always considered Wit one of the finest of contemporary conductors, who should have had a much bigger career than many other better-known names. Under his direction, the Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra performs impeccably and with passion. © 2012 Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, July 2012

No single release of which I am aware captures Penderecki’s stylistic variety as dramatically as this one does.

Conductor Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic have been associated with Penderecki’s music for decades, and they make a convincing case for all of these works, regardless of their style. Oboist Jean-Louis Capezzali need not fear comparison with Heinz Holliger, and Artur Pachlewski plays a mean, communicative clarinet in the Sinfonietta No. 2. This is intriguing music, and I don’t see how these performances could be bettered. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

James A. Altena
Fanfare, July 2012

This latest installment in the ongoing Naxos series devoted to Krzysztof Penderecki offers a miscellaneous collection of shorter works scored for string orchestra, spanning the entire wide gamut of stylistic avenues the composer has pursued throughout his career.

…the most startling entry here is the oldest, the Three Pieces in Old Style for string orchestra…Having just set the musical world on its collective ear with such radically avant-garde works as the Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, Polymorphia, and Fluorescences, with their intense dissonances and novel uses of musical…instruments, Penderecki suddenly performed a complete volte-face and penned this trio of brief movements in an unabashedly ingratiating late-Baroque/early-Classical idiom…

The two sinfoniettas…are transcriptions for string orchestra of chamber works, the String Trio and the Clarinet Quartet, respectively. Both of these works, and the 1997 Serenade, are typical of Penderecki’s more recent neoromantic idiom; notably, the Serenade and Second Sinfonietta…with beautifully haunting Larghetto movements redolent of emotional and spiritual desolation. The Second Sinfonietta retains the solo clarinet part of its chamber-music progenitor, performed here by Artur Pachlewski with liquid, chocolate tone.

…Antoni Wit and his orchestra…are completely authoritative in this repertoire. Naxos provides its usual detailed program notes and clear, ungimmicky recorded sound. This disc is unhesitatingly recommended to all fellow admirers of the music of this, the master composer of the late 20th century. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, July 2012

…the opening Passacaglia revolves around a nine-note motif repeated through various ranges of the orchestra; it has a recognizable form and is more interesting than abrasive. Likewise, the succeeding Larghetto, which almost sounds like a lament, is a deeply felt piece capped by a lyrical and passionate violin solo. This is remarkable music for Penderecki, and it is played with great feeling and a long legato line by the Warsaw forces under Antoni Wit.

The second Sinfonietta…is…cohesive and…creative. A very mysterious Adagio opens it, followed by a busy (but not abrasive) Scherzo. The brief Serenade in waltz tempo…almost acts as an interlude to a truly magnificent Larghetto, marked Abschied in the score.

…overall, this is one of the best collections of Penderecki’s music I’ve ever heard. Wit conducts with his usual sensitivity, grace, and emotional commitment. In the few years I’ve become acquainted with him through records, he has become…a conductor of immense integrity whose artistic vision is not only consistent with his inner feelings regarding the music but also committed to presenting music that communicates to the listener…Antoni Wit is a very, very special talent. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Robert Matthew-Walker
International Record Review, June 2012

This is a useful compendium of Penderecki’s shorter orchestral pieces… The performances here are really fine throughout: Antoni Wit is an exceptional conductor who has made some outstanding recordings (not just Polish music) with this admirable orchestra, and the recording quality is first-rate. © 2012 International Record Review

Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, April 2012

The orchestral playing under Wit is every bit as good as one would expect from his superb continuing survey of the music of Penderecki, which has brought to our notice so many works that are otherwise unrecorded and unperformed. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, April 2012

Regardless of the style, or the period, these diversified works are all defining examples of the powerful creative forces within the music of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki (b 1933).

Most surprising is the Three Pieces in Old Style written for a film only three short years after the infamous Threnody. The obvious homage to Bach in the beautiful Aria and the stately and gallant style of the two Menuettos will take you aback. The Larghetto from the Serenade could easily be mistaken for a bleak and dark passage in a Shostakovich symphony. Music of harrowing emotive power. Even the Intermezzo for 24 strings, considered to be from his avant-garde and experimental period, layers lines and textures which lead to quite a stirring climax that quite simply fills the room with a living energy that will have you checking over your shoulder. On the other hand, the Capriccio for Oboe and String Orchestra, with the tremendous talent of Jean-Louis Capezzali demanding the impossible from the oboe, is definitely, as its title indicates, a caprice in every sense of the word. It demands a strange combination of whimsy, aplomb and discipline from everyone involved. And last but not least, the two Sinfoniettas bring together the best of both worlds, with both feet planted firmly in the soil of tradition and the eyes gazing strongly into infinity. In particular, the Sinfonietta No. 2, a transcription of his own Clarinet Quartet, contains very evocative writing within the strings as well as beautifully plaintive passages for the clarinet, played accordingly by Artur Pachlewski. The final stirring moments which end the CD, leave you wanting more.

The Penderecki/Wit/Warsaw series of recordings for Naxos over the last few years has been nothing less than exceptional, and this latest release is from the same pedigree. Commited playing, insightful interpretations and a great sound recording. It can’t get much better than this. © 2012 Classical Music Sentinel Read complete review

John Allison
BBC Music Magazine, April 2012

Conductor Antoni Wit sculpts the Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra’s playing, and two wind soloists shape every line with purpose. Well produced, this joins the long list of distinguished Warsaw recordings packaged by Naxos. © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, March 2012

this disc concentrates on his string music spanning 35 years, from 1963’s baroque-influenced Three Pieces in Old Style to the modernist intensity of 1997’s Serenade. In between, Sinfoniettas 1 & 2 (1992, 1994) are captivating orchestrations of chamber works, while the Capriccio for Oboe has a lightheartedness atypical of the usually overwrought composer. Antoni Wit conducts the fine Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, and soloists Artur Pachlewski (clarinet) and Jean-Louis Capezzali (oboe) shine in the spotlight. © 2012 The Flip Side Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2012

In the mid-1970’s Krzysztof Penderecki bewildered the musical world when he turned away from overt modernism to reestablish links with past musical traditions. Maybe we should have recognised that he already had those links when he composed such totally ‘authentic’ Baroque music way back in 1963 when writing for the film, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, three sections finding their way into the concert hall as Three Pieces in Old Style. Chronologically we then move to the Capriccio for Oboe and String Orchestra from 1964, quite short, it was ‘modern’ at the time, yet viewed from today’s musical standpoint, it was fascinating in the sounds created. Nine years later came the Intemezzo for 24 strings which can be equated to seven minutes of an angry swarm of bees. That busyness, but now in tonality, forms the opening movement of a highly attractive First Sinfonietta from 1992 , a score for anyone who enjoys modern music with an added tangy zest. Two years later came the Second, also clocking in at around a quarter of an hour, but with four movements and featuring a solo clarinet. A gently flowing opening Notturno, leads to an energetic scherzo and short lyric waltz, the somber finale totally changing the work’s mood. The Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra is formed from leading members of the parent orchestra, and, as we would expect, is of exceptional quality. Wit has already shown his strong links with the composer, and here again you will be fortunate to hear performances of this quality. The sessions took place in the second half of 2008 and are well balanced and infinitely detailed. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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