Krzysztof Penderecki (Krzysztof Eugeniusz Penderecki), born November 23, 1933 in Dębica) is a Polish composer and conductor. His 1960 avant-garde Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima for string orchestra brought him to international attention, and this success was followed by acclaim for his choral St. Luke Passion. Both these works exhibit novel compositional techniques. Since the 1970s Penderecki's style has changed to encompass a post-Romantic idiom.
He has won prestigious awards including Grammy Awards in 1987 and 1998 and 2001, and the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1992. He has been called Poland's greatest living composer.
This 2004 survey of modern settings of the medieval sequence Stabat Mater Dolorosa is part of conductor Marcello Viotti's project to record the little-known but worthy sacred works of the twentieth century, in conjunction with the Munich Radio Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Chorus for their concert series Paradisi gloria. The four works by Francis Poulenc, Karol Szymanowski, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Wolfgang Rihm are dramatically different in conception and musical content, and may be regarded more as reflections of personal faith than as practical works for ecclesiastical purposes.
The instrumental concerto occupies a very prominent place in the music of Krzysztof Penderecki. This fact is related to the great life force exhibited by this genre in twentieth century and in contemporary music. It is stimulated by commissions from virtuosos and by audience expectations; also favourable is the composers’ flexibility in approaching the form, whose chief idea continues to be the juxtaposition of the solo instrument and the orchestra. The violin and viola works presented on this CD are not only interesting, concrete realizations of the concertare idea in Penderecki’s music, but also examples of this composer’s sonic language and style in the period of his creativity which Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski called a "time of dialogue with the regained past".
This beautifully programmed CD presents three settings for viola and orchestra and a more eloquent statement about the beauty of the viola as an instrument would be hard to imagine (except for perhaps including Vaughan Williams' 'Flos Campi'). The viola finds that middle voice between violin and cello, a rich tone with a built in quality of mournfulness. That quality has inspired the works on this recording and the result is some of the more wistful music ever written. Dennis Russell Davies conducts the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra with the superb violist Kim Kashkashian.
On Soli, Tamsin Waley-Cohen's 2015 release on Signum Classics, the violinist explores modernist repertoire composed between 1944 and 2005. Because these solo violin pieces by Béla Bartók, George Benjamin, Krzysztof Penderecki, Elliott Carter, and György Kurtág are challenging for both the player and the listener, one should approach this CD with some awareness that they reflect different phases of the avant-garde movement that dominated music in the last half of the 20th century.