Penderecki Piano Concerto Resurrection

The events of 9/11 triggered the creation of many musical works. Some are only of passing interest, while others, such as Pendereicki’s piano concerto have taken on a life of their own. This new recording presents the revised version of this concerto. In 2007 Penderecki rewrote the final movement, and in the process made it a more hopeful and inspiring work.

Although some of the tone clusters and and atonal gestures reminded me of his 1964 “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima,” Pendericki’s piano concerto is a vastly different work. I’d almost classify it as post-romantic. It has the same sprawling bigness of a Rachmaninoff concerto. Although there’s not a discernible cadenza, the piano plays almost non-stop throughout the work with virtuoso runs and chords. And although there are sections of great intimacy and delicacy, there are even more where the full orchestra’s playing with maximum volume.

Florian Uhlig plays with the right emotional tone. He’s a brilliant technician, of course, but he also understands that this is a work of deep emotion. Uhlig effectively communicates that emotion with virtually every note. And conductor Likasz Borowicz is right there with him. The work has some sudden shifts and juxtapositions, but under Borowicz’ direction, there’s never a misstep.

The revised “Resurrection” concerto is a powerful work that should find a place in the standard repertoire. Yes, it’s that good — and so is this recording.

Krysztof Penderecki: Piano Concerto “Resurrection”
Florian Uhlig, piano; Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Lukasz Borowicz, conductor
Hänssler Classic

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