I year's big visiting orchestras. is eagerly awaited. although it remains to be seen whether the impetus of Glasgow 1990 will overcome the inertia which traditionally afflicts Scottish classical audiences when faced with contemporary music.
Their bold all-Penderecki programme. featuring his Passacaglia. the Viola ( 'oncerio from 1982—3 ((irigory Zhyslin is soloist). and the main work. his brooding Second Symphony from I979. off e rs none ofthe usual (‘lassical-to-Romantic sweeteners which orchestral programmers love to manacle around anything too modern. It is an adventurous piece of programming. and deserves to be rewarded with an enthusiastic full—house.
Krzysztof Penderecki is the best-known of the modern generation of Polish composers. and arguably. along with Witold
Lutoslawski. 20 years his senior. the most widely heard outside of his native country. Born in Debica in 1933. his connections with music in Cracow were established early in his career. when he studied composition under Artur Malawski at the (,‘racow Music Academy from 1955 until 1958. and began teaching there the following year.
Penderecki‘s professional career blossomed just at the point where the politically-imposed retreat from Western ideas and the crime of ‘formalism‘ (which forced Lutoslawski away from the near-atonal approach of his wartime First Symphony to the lighter shades of the more Bartokian (.‘oncerio For Orchestra of 1954) had given way to a new. more liberal artistic climate following the October Revolt of I956.
The subsequent encouragement of progressive trends fostered a hitherto repressed outbreak of
avant-garde composition in Poland. and Penderecki quickly became a leading figure in the new movement. which included elder statesmen like Lutoslawski and Grazyna Bacewicz. as well as the younger lions (besides Penderecki. Henryk (jorecki and Wojciech Kilar established international reputations).
Penderecki‘s entry onto the international stage was most spectacularly heralded by the success of his brittle. emotionally powerfully Threnody For The Victims of Hiroshima (1960). a deeply felt work for string orchestra which employed many ofthe new sonorities (clusters. massive glissandos. new string and percussive effects. including. in other works ofthe period. non-instrumental devices like typewriters and pieces of wood. iron. glass or even paper) then emerging in the work ofStockhausen and Xenakis. but recast them both in terms oftheir formal musical application and the ferocity of their expression.
As the decade developed. though. the composer grew increasingly interested in vocal music. often with a distinctly theatrical feel. like his celebrated St Luke Passion of 1963. with its echoes of Bach. or its sequel Utrenia. Large-scale choral writing on religious themes has remained a consistent part of his output. including the .‘Wagniﬁcal of I973 and the Te beam of 1979.
Those same preoccupations — the voice. theatre. religion — are equally clearly reflected in his operatic works. beginning with The Devils of Louden in 1968 and Paradise Lost in 1978. The Glasgow concert. however. will focus on his writing for orchestra. and in particular on his Second Symphony. a work of very different character to that ofhis first major symphonic composition. the First Symphony of 1973.
While the earlier work looks back to the powerful expressionism of his 1960s writing. the Second Symphony reflects a more considered. and considerably more conventional. approach to the form. It is widely regarded as almost Brucknerian in its scope and — in terms onUth century musical registers. and Penderecki's own earlier work — relatively straightforward construction and musical language. It is a dark. brooding. emotionally intense and rather inward-looking work. certainly. but should present few problems to anyone who considers that classical music ends with Wagner.
Perhaps that explains the programmer‘s willingness to avoid the usual sops to the conservatism of the classical audience when it comes to new music: in his travels from the outer edges of the avant-garde to a considerably more mainstream musical voice. Penderecki has already provided them with his own variant ofa late l9th century symphony to placate the fainthearted.
K rzyssz I ’enderecki conducts the ( 'racow Philharmonic Orchestra at ( 'in Hull, Glasgow, 20 .llurch.
ROCK 33 JAZZ 36 FOLK 38 CLASSICAL 39
lThe Fall: Extricate (Cog Sinister) It‘s been nearly thirteen years since ‘Bingo Master's Breakout‘. long enough for most ofthe bands of the punk boom to have been. well. ‘reappraised‘ is the kind
5 term. isn't it'.’ So what's
' going on when The Fall‘s (‘oldcut collaboration. ‘Telephone Thing'. stomps all over The Stone . Roses ‘Iiool's Gold and
E sendsithomewith wah-wah pedal shamefully between its legs'.’ It means that here's a band which. although eschewing the usual notions of ‘progressing‘. nevertheless broadens its reach with every release.
talentsofhipprodueers like ('oldcut and Adrian Sherwood. The Fall impose their identity on them rather than the other way around. Their taste in cover versions is as sharp as ever. Smith takingon The Monks‘ ‘Black Monk Theme I’art ()ne'. like a no-hope punk who‘s about as fucked-up as it's possible to get. turningon his girl with a savage ‘I)o you know I hate you bay-beugh Because you make me hate you bay-beugh‘.
[it‘lrii‘ule's other moment of inspired lunacy is Smith‘sown ‘l lilary' . one of the most relaxed and funniest liall tracks ever. You don't need a degree in sardonicism to laugh at it Or the last dozen liall albums to love this one. (Alastair Mabbott)
I NitzerEbb:Showtime (Mute) The problem that Nit/er l2bb face in l99tlis the completely unfashionable nature of their music. This will probably not affect them in the slightest; apart from the cross-oy er successof the last two years with songs like ‘Join in the ('hant‘ and '(‘ontrol(l'm llerc )' they are used to not being in \ogue.
Show lime is no great depai tiiie Iroin last year's Beliefalbuiii minimal electronic backing and aggressive vocals. l.ike tliesingle. 'l.iglitiiing .‘ylan‘. each song isa nuiii-screenplay . a tilinic distillation of obsession. lust and physical danger. Shun'Ilmi'ls unlikely to win the band new fans but ’ will no doubt satist those
already booked. (James I laliburton)
The List 9 — 33 March 199029