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Sextet for piano, violin, viola, cello, clarinet and French horn

Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)

Composer
Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
Composition Year
2000
Work Movements
2. Larghetto
1. Allegro moderato
Artists
Barry Douglas [piano], Hervé Joulain [horn], Christoffer Sundqvist [clarinet], Anja Lechner [cello], Simone Gramaglia [viola], Miranda Cuckson [Violin]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

This extraordinary work with its unusual combination of instruments is already a modern classic, demand for performances often being led by performers. For top instrumentalists as well as audiences its combination of outstanding virtuosity and quartet-like intensity is irresistible.


The furious opening cannot but remind us of Shostakovich battling his way into one of his famous hard-driven scherzos as the piano sets up an almost metronomic rhythm from the first bar. This builds irresistibly until interrupted by a wild, piercing cry from the clarinet, later taken up by strings, horn and even the piano itself. Through a combination of dotted chords, repeated notes and abrupt statements of melodic elements we get an impression of fleeting, imaginary dances sparked off the insistent rhythmic tread. The dance is momentarily punctuated for an appearance of the intensely lyrical phrase that will act as the main theme in the much longer second movement. After this the music builds in a series of waves of stunning compositional and instrumental virtuosity, sweeping us away until we reach the forceful and decisive conclusion.


The second movement opens with strings and piano emphasizing in all its fullness the elegiac nature of the theme we heard hinted at in the first movement. The music settles into a mood of thoughtful melancholy, while dramatic intensity is maintained by several brief and jagged climaxes and the extraordinary originality and inventiveness of the multiplicity of instrumental combinations. The theme is looked at in every possible way, perhaps most expressively in an impassioned adagio by the cello leading to a moving molto tranquillo song by the clarinet. These wonderful pages of the score transform themselves slowly into a sombre and increasingly dematerialised coda haunted by almost imperceptible nostalgic echoes of the movement’s leitmotiv.

Francis Humphrys




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Sextet for piano, violin, viola, cello, clarinet and French horn

Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
Performance date: Saturday 8th July 2017
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933)
Work Title Sextet for piano, violin, viola, cello, clarinet and French horn
Composition Year 2000
Work Movements 2. Larghetto
1. Allegro moderato
Artist(s) Barry Douglas [piano], Hervé Joulain [horn], Christoffer Sundqvist [clarinet], Anja Lechner [cello], Simone Gramaglia [viola], Miranda Cuckson [Violin]
Performance Date Saturday 8th July 2017
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Finale
Duration 00:32:24
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Sextet
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

This extraordinary work with its unusual combination of instruments is already a modern classic, demand for performances often being led by performers. For top instrumentalists as well as audiences its combination of outstanding virtuosity and quartet-like intensity is irresistible.


The furious opening cannot but remind us of Shostakovich battling his way into one of his famous hard-driven scherzos as the piano sets up an almost metronomic rhythm from the first bar. This builds irresistibly until interrupted by a wild, piercing cry from the clarinet, later taken up by strings, horn and even the piano itself. Through a combination of dotted chords, repeated notes and abrupt statements of melodic elements we get an impression of fleeting, imaginary dances sparked off the insistent rhythmic tread. The dance is momentarily punctuated for an appearance of the intensely lyrical phrase that will act as the main theme in the much longer second movement. After this the music builds in a series of waves of stunning compositional and instrumental virtuosity, sweeping us away until we reach the forceful and decisive conclusion.


The second movement opens with strings and piano emphasizing in all its fullness the elegiac nature of the theme we heard hinted at in the first movement. The music settles into a mood of thoughtful melancholy, while dramatic intensity is maintained by several brief and jagged climaxes and the extraordinary originality and inventiveness of the multiplicity of instrumental combinations. The theme is looked at in every possible way, perhaps most expressively in an impassioned adagio by the cello leading to a moving molto tranquillo song by the clarinet. These wonderful pages of the score transform themselves slowly into a sombre and increasingly dematerialised coda haunted by almost imperceptible nostalgic echoes of the movement’s leitmotiv.

Francis Humphrys