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Penderecki: Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima; Polymorphia / Greenwood: Popcorn Superhet Receiver; 48 Responses

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Nonesuch Records releases an album of works by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and composer/Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. The artists' work was presented side-by-side in two concerts in September 2011, highlighting Penderecki's influence on younger composers, at the European Congress of Culture in Wroc aw. In its report on the Congress, which celebrated Poland's presidency of the European Union, London's Independent called Penderecki "Poland's godfather of the musical avant-garde" and Greenwood "the doyen of English art-pop," describing their concert as "rapturously received." The composers went to Kraków's Alvernia Studios immediately after the performances to oversee the recording of the same music, along with one other piece by Greenwood.

The Wroc aw concert included two works by Penderecki dating from the early 1960s: "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" and "Polymorphia (for 48 strings)," the latter of which inspired the Greenwood piece on the program, "48 Responses to Polymorphia;" all three are on the Nonesuch record. An additional piece by Greenwood, "Popcorn Superhet Receiver," which was inspired by Penderecki's "Threnody," also was recorded for the album. (Greenwood incorporated material from "Popcorn Superhet Receiver" in his award-winning score for the 2008 film There Will Be Blood, which was also released on Nonesuch.)
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Aukso Orchestra
  • Conductor: Krzysztof Penderecki, Marek Mos
  • Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki, Jonny Greenwood
  • Audio CD (March 13, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B00722ZH5W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,366 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The pairing of Penderecki and Radiohead's Greenwood sounds crazy at first but not really. They pretty much perform in their own element but their works compliment each other nicely. For Penderecki fans, the quality of this recording is so dynamic and amazing that it's like hearing these iconic compositions for the first time! A beautifully produced recording that is guaranteed a Grammy or two next year! Check it out and if you're new to Penderecki pursue his other work!
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Jonny Greenwood is one of the most famous musicians in the world. As one of the founding members of the internationally acclaimed and enormously popular and influential rock group Radiohead, Greenwood has built a strong reputation as an innovator. Lately, Greenwood has been exploring other musical styles and has had astonishing success. His recent film scores have been met with plenty of acclaim, especially his 2007 score for There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson's dark adaptation of Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! Considering Greenwood's popularity, his recent focus on classical instrumental music offers great potential in expanding the audiences for classical music.

This new CD from Nonesuch is a joint venture between Greenwood and well known Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Penderecki's works have garnered the composer a reputation for using innovative compositional techniques, and he is among the top tier of modern composers in terms of popularity.

Featuring four works for string orchestra (two from each composer) the program begins with Penderecki's best known work, Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. As the title suggests, the work is dark, even nightmarish. The score uses several innovative techniques. Written for 52 stringed instruments, each performer plays a unique part. It is semi-aleatoric; the composer leaves some of the musical decisions up to the performers, thus ensuring that no two performances will ever sound quite alike. The score also uses its own system of non-traditional notation and calls for various extended instrumental techniques. For example, the musicians are asked to play on top of the bridge, fingerboard and tailpiece.
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Format: Audio CD
This record is pure brilliance. Greenwood and Penderecki's teamwork is a gift from the gods.
The album is full of rich compositions to keep the intelligent mind entertained.

This album is highly unrated as it pushes boundaries. The tracks have melodic melodies that are arranged with explosive discords and minimalist polyphonic dissonance.

They album tries to recreate a series of evolving chord progressions with texture and dynamic changes that make this is an out of mind experience. I highly recommend this for the educated and creative mind.
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Maybe you saw the Japanese film, Norwegian Wood, but did you ever think you'd find Radiohead hidden behind the soundtrack?
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I really want to like Jonny Greenwood's compositional career. Radiohead were the first band I loved, and I think that they helped shape my musical tastes and aesthetics more than most composers. I recall excitedly pre-ordering Greenwood's first classical foray, the soundtrack to the film Bodysong, as soon as I found out about it back in 2003. And I was thrilled the following year by the announcement that he had been recruited to the position of Composer in Residence for the BBC Concert Orchestra. This was evidence, to my excitable teenage brain, that pop music was real, that it could achieve things, that my school music teacher was wrong. Pop music mattered. There was a composer in Radiohead.

I know that's not how it works, now. Pop music does matter, but composers have nothing to do with it. Some of the best pop music is the least composerly, and much of the most strongly `composed' pop is boring. Pop has its own complexities and quandaries, and they do not relate to manuscript paper. (Or engraving software.) The presence of a nominal `composer' in a band proves precisely nothing in terms of the music's seriousness, importance or quality, and writing `classical' music rather than pop is not actually a sign of sophistication. There is no sense in which Greenwood's straying into the classical realm denotes a musical coming-of-age. By that logic, we'd all have to take the Liverpool Oratorio more seriously than Sgt. Pepper, after all. There are, at bottom, different ways to make and write music, and these different ways do not arrange themselves into a neat quality-based order.

This isn't to say that becoming a classical composer doesn't require a high degree of artisanal nous, such as is only really attainable by working through years of specific, intricate study.
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