Cadenza per viola sola

Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933 - d. 2020)
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Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933 - d. 2020)

Performance date: 01/07/2017

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1984

Duration: 00:06:21

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:Solo

Artists: Dana Zemtsov - [viola]

Penderecki’s Cadenza per viola
is a remarkable and haunting work by Poland’s greatest
living composer; he is also one of the most popular of all
contemporary composers. His reputation was established with powerful
and dissonant works like Threnody for the victims of Hirshima
[1960] and the St Luke Passion [1965]. Latterly he turned
to a more melodic and tonal style as exhibited in the three works
featured in this year’s Festival. The work opens with Penderecki’s
favourite interval, the strange, yearning sigh of the descending
minor second. This interval breaks the silence and hangs in the air,
is it asking a question or just reaching out for the unattainable. It
is repeated many times, gradually intensifying itself with double and
triple-stops before exploding into the central virtuoso display that
some have compared to a Bach Partita. The material in this section
consists of fast sixteenth notes, triplets against a drone creating
pungent dissonances, parallel thirds, and a rising triplet figure
over a minor ninth – similar to the one heard in the opening. Finally
the Lento tempo returns, creating an arch form, in which the
piece begins softly, grows in intensity, sustains a loud and violent
mood, decreases in intensity, and ends quietly again with the last
two notes being once more that strange, yearning sigh.

This brief, all-too-brief expression of
intense longing seems an ideal prelude, the spark of passion that
ignites the music that is to come.