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In the Salon: Krzysztof Penderecki
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 10/25/2013 at Symphony Space.

“…Poland's greatest living composer” (The Guardian) graces the Symphony Space stage for a live broadcast event with WQXR's Q2 Music, hosted by Helga Davis.

In partnership with WQXR's Q2 Music and the Polish Cultural Institute New York. With support from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.


Part of Symphony Space's In the Salon series.




Cadenza, for solo viola (1984)

Matthew Lipman, viola


String Quartet No. 3 “Leaves from an Unwritten Diary” (2008)

Penderecki String Quartet

Jeremy Bell, violin

Jerzy Kaplanek, violin

Christine Vlajk, viola

Katie Schlaikjer, cello


Capriccio per Siegfried Palm, for solo cello (1968)

Jay Campbell, cello


Clarinet Quartet (1993)

Musicians from the Yale School of Music

Eric Anderson, clarinet

Nathan Lesser, violin

Colin Brookes, viola

Alan Ohkubo, cello


Sextet (2000)

Ensemble Pi

Moran Katz, clarinet

Karl Kramer, horn

Airi Yoshioka, violin

Katie Schlaikjer, cello

Idith Meshulam, piano

+ About the Artists

Krzysztof Penderecki was born on November 23, 1933 in Dębica, Poland. He received violin and piano tuition at a very early age and entered the Conservatoire in Krakow when he was 18. From 1954, he studied composition with Artur Malewski and Stanisław Wiechowicz at the Kraków Academy of Music where he was subsequently appointed as professor in 1958. One year later, Penderecki won all three available prizes at the II Warsaw Competition for Young Composers. With the first performance of Anaklasis for 42 string instruments at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1960, he became part of the international avant-garde. Penderecki gained a reputation with a wider public with the premiere of the St Luke Passion in Münster Cathedral in 1966. The Polish composer taught at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen from 1966 to 1968. His first opera The Devils of Loudon based on a book by Aldous Huxley received its premiere at the Hamburg State Opera House in 1969. In 1972, Penderecki was appointed as rector of the State Academy of Music in Kraków and also taught at Yale University in the USA from 1973 to 1978. Penderecki gained an international reputation as the conductor of both his own compositions and other works.

Penderecki composed several of his works in remembrance of catastrophes in the 20th century. Threnos for 52 string instruments, composed in 1960, is dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the piano concerto Resurrection was composed as a reaction to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. For Penderecki, these associations in content are not merely an abstract concept, but also in their instrumental tonal colouring and dramatic sounds emotionally comprehensible for listeners. Extensive political- social associations can also be found in the Polish Requiem which he began in 1980 with the composition of the Lacrimosa which is dedicated to Lech Wałęsa. The composer dedicated other movements of this work to the Polish victims of Auschwitz and the Warsaw uprising in 1944. This was supplemented by the Ciaccona in memoriam Johannes Paul II in 2005 which commemorated the Polish Pope. 

Numerous compositions from a variety of genres originated from direct cooperation with outstanding soloists including Anne-Sophie Mutter (2nd violin concerto Metamorphosen, among others), Mstislav Rostropovitsch (Concerto per violoncello ed orchestra no. 2), and Boris Pergamenschikow (Concerto grosso). The composer’s interest was focused on large-scale musical forms, in particular the symphony. Penderecki’s 7th symphony Seven Gates of Jerusalem received its first performance in 1997 demands the forces of five vocal soloists, narrator, three choirs and large orchestra. This work with duration of just over an hour was composed under the title within the context of the 3000-year anniversary of the city. The Old Testament texts of the vocal parts have a close association with Jerusalem’s turbulent history. Entitled Lieder der Vergänglichkeit, his 8th symphony for soloists, choir and large orchestra sets text of German romantic poems related to trees and the woods to music. The work had been commissioned on occasion of the grand opening of the Philharmonie Luxembourg in 2005.

Penderecki is one of the musicians to have received the most awards in his own generation: in 1966 he received the Grand Art Prize from the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia, in 1967 the Prix Italia and the Sibelius Gold Medal, and in 1970 the prize from the Polish Composers’ Association. He also received the Prix Arthur Honegger (1977), the Sibelius Prize of the Wihuri Foundation, the National Prize of Poland (both in 1983), the Premio Lorenzo il Magnifico (1985), the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition (1992), the Prize of the International Music Council/UNESCO (1993), the Music Prize of the city of Duisburg (1999), the Cannes Award as “Living Composer of the Year” (2000), the Romano Guardini Prize of the Catholic Academy in Bavaria (2002), and the Praemium Imperiale (2004). Since 1990 he has been holder of the Grand Cross for Distinguished Services of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and Chevalier de Saint Georges. In 1995, he became a member of the Royal Academy of Music in Dublin and in 1998 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2006, he was made Commander of the Three Star Order in Riga, Latvia and is a member of the Order of the White Eagle in Poland. Krzysztof Penderecki is honorary doctor and honorary professor of numerous international universities.


Helga Davis is a principal actor in the 25th anniversary re-staging of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s seminal work Einstein on the Beach. In 2012, Ms. Davis appeared twice in BAM’s Next Wave Festival, in Einstein on the Beach and Maya Beiser’s Elsewhere with music by Missy Mazzoli. She had her second appearance at the Barbican in May 2013 to star in the opera Oceanic Verses, written for her by Paola Prestini. Ms. Davis’s past work has included The Blue Planet (2008), a multi-media theater piece written by Peter Greenaway and directed by Saskia Boddeke, and The Temptation of St. Anthony directed by Robert Wilson, with libretto and score by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock. In February 2008, Davis conducted a special feature interview with artist Kara Walker for WNYC’s Morning Edition on the eve of Ms. Walker’s Whitney Museum retrospective. David Keenan of Wire Magazine describes Ms. Davis as “a powerful vocalist with an almost operatic range and all the bruised sensuality of Jeanne Lee.”


Violist Matthew Lipman has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune for his “splendid technique and musical sensitivity” and by The New York Times for his “rich tone and elegant phrasing.” He has appeared as soloist with the Juilliard, Minnesota, Illinois Philharmonic, Montgomery Symphony, and Southwest Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Grand Rapids and Capital City Symphonies. His performance with the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra was named “the Most Impressive Debut” in Chicago Classical Review’s “Top 10 Performances of 2010.” Recently, Lipman recorded Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with violinist Rachel Barton Pine, Sir Neville Marriner, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Lipman has won First Prize at the Washington, Stulberg, and Johansen International Competitions and the WAMSO, Juilliard, and ASTA National Competitions, and is a laureate of the Lionel Tertis and Primrose International Viola Competitions. He has performed at Ravinia, Music@Menlo, the Perlman Music Program, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman, Atar Arad, David Finckel, Miriam Fried, Paul Katz, and Ani and Ida Kavafian. Lipman’s teachers include Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, Roland Vamos, and Matthew Mantell. Lipman performs on a viola by Matteo Goffriller, 1700, on generous loan from the REB Foundation.


The Penderecki String Quartet, approaching the third decade of an extraordinary career, has become one of the most celebrated chamber ensembles of their generation. These four musicians from Poland, Canada, and the USA bring their varied yet collective experience to create performances that demonstrate their “remarkable range of technical excellence and emotional sweep” (The Globe and Mail). Their recent schedule has included concerts in New York (Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Los Angeles (REDCAT at Disney Hall), St. Petersburg, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Rome, Belgrade, Zagreb, Atlanta, as well as appearances at international festivals in Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Venezuela, Brazil, and China. The PSQ champions music of our time, performing a wide range of repertoire from Haydn to Zappa as well as premiering over 100 new works to date. Described by Fanfare Magazine as “an ensemble of formidable power and keen musical sensitivity,” the PSQ’s diverse discography includes the chamber music of Brahms and Shostakovich (Eclectra and Marquis labels) and their recently released Bartok cycle. They enter their 20th year as Quartet-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.


Armed with a diverse spectrum of repertoire and eclectic musical interests, cellist Jay Campbell was recently named First Prize winner of the 2012 Concert Artist Guild auditions. He has been heard on television, radio broadcasts, and in concert halls around the world, including concerto appearances in Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Kultur und Kongresszentrum-Luzern, and the Aspen Music Festival, with conductors Pierre Boulez, Jeffrey Milarsky, and Michael Morgan. Jay made his debut with the New York Philharmonic this past season performing the music of Tan Dun. He has collaborated with an array of artists ranging from composers including Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, Magnus Lindberg, and John Adams, to members of Radiohead and Einstürzende Neubauten, and has premiered nearly 100 works to date, including concertos by Chris Rogerson and David Lang. Jay has had the privilege of collaborating with leading ensembles throughout the globe including ICE, Ensemble InterContemporain, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and members of the Arditti, Takács, Kronos, and Afiara string quartets. Highlights of the upcoming season include a debut solo CD on CAG Records and chamber works on Tzadik; appearances at Carnegie Hall, National Gallery, Krannert Center, Mondavi Center, and the Heidelberg Festival; and the premieres of new works written for Jay by John Zorn, Eric Wubbels, Oscar Bianchi, and David Fulmer.


Originally from Wilmette, Illinois, clarinetist Eric Anderson is currently pursuing a Masters of Music at the Yale School of Music. Before arriving at Yale, he completed studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory, earning a Bachelors of Music and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature. His primary teachers include David Shifrin, Richard Hawkins, and Bonnie Campbell. As an orchestral musician, Anderson has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Canton Symphony. In past summers, he has performed at the Spoleto Festival USA, the Aspen Music Festival as a New Horizons Fellow, and at the International Festival at Round Top. An active chamber musician, Anderson has performed with members of the Chicago Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and Houston Symphony. He has also performed contemporary chamber music with members of the International Contemporary Ensemble and composers Du Yun, Rand Steiger, Huang Ruo, Dan Trueman, James Wood, and Lewis Nielson.


Praised by the Rutland Herald for his “natural expressiveness” and “real musical understanding,” Nathan Lesser began studying the violin at the age of four in his home state of Maine. His early teachers include Irene Rissi, Alicia Doudna, and Gilda Joffe. He received his BM in Violin Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of David Bowlin. There, he participated in the recording of William Albright’s Clarinet Quintet with Professor Richard Hawkins and in the performance of the first Shostakovich Violin Concerto, which was rebroadcasted on WQXR in the McGraw Hill Financial Young Artists Showcase. Mr. Lesser is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at the Yale School of Music, where he is a student of Ani Kavafian.


Born in Pittsburgh, Colin Brookes studied viola with Carolyn Hills and Marylene Gingras-Roy. He soloed with the Pittsburgh Symphony and is a winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society, Symphony North Concerto Competition, Music For Mount Lebanon Competition, and Tuesday Musical Club. Colin holds a Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Heidi Castleman and Misha Amory. In May 2013 he received a Masters degree from Yale School of Music, and is currently pursuing his Artist Diploma there, studying with Ettore Causa. Dedicated to exploring new projects and genres, Colin co-wrote and recorded the film score for Let There Be Sol and has performed new music in the Bowery Ballroom, Bowery Electric, Rockwood Music Hall, the Bell House, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and MoMA.


Alan Ohkubo began studying cello at age seven in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. He later attended Indiana University as a Jacobs Scholar under the tutelage of János Starker, and currently studies with Aldo Parisot at the Yale School of Music. Alan was a member of the New York String Orchestra Seminar in 2008 and 2009, where he took part in a series of concerts in Carnegie Hall under the direction of Jaime Laredo. In 2012 and 2013, Alan also participated in Music Masters Course Japan, an intensive chamber music seminar in Yokohama. Recent performances include solo and chamber music appearances in Tokyo, New York City on the Salon de Virtuosi concert series, and Michigan for the Stulberg International String Competition.


Ensemble Pi, a socially conscious new music group founded in 2002, features composers whose work seeks to open a dialogue between ideas and music on some of the world’s current and critical issues. For the last ten years, Ensemble Pi has presented an annual Peace Project concert, about which The New York Times raved: “music performed clearly evoked conflict and anguish...gracefully played...a fiery and emotive performance.” The ensemble commissions new works and collaborates with visual artists, writers, actors, and journalists, among them South African artist William Kentridge and American journalist/ writer Naomi Wolf, Frederic Rzewski, and Philip Miller. The ensemble was in residence for four American music festivals presented by the American Composers Alliance and now collaborates with the APNM. Ensemble Pi has also created artistic and educational programs in response to major exhibitions at Chelsea Art Museum, The Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. Gramophone wrote of the Ensemble’s first CD, Keep Going, “a touching tribute to Ellias Tanenbaum, played with conviction and verve.” They also appear on the second CD of the music of Laura Kaminsky, released by Albany Records.

+ About the Music

Cadenza, for solo viola

The viola is one of Penderecki’s favorite instruments, and he often uses it, both tutti and solo, for particularly expressive passages in his orchestral works. It is therefore not surprising that after the concertante solo works for violin and cello, Penderecki composed in 1983 a concerto for viola as well. The Cadenza for solo viola is an appendix to the viola concerto: it begins just like the concerto with a twice-repeated sigh of a descending minor second, espressivo with a lento tempo marking. The Cadenza also ends with this interval. The piece is composed without meter indication, i.e. without bar lines. In the first part, the chromatic sigh motif is spun out in increasingly large arches, with dynamic intensification, also using heavy quadruple stops and impulsive 32nd- note figuration. In the middle of the piece a brilliant vivace appears, lively music similar to a Gigue in a Bach solo partita. At the climax of the intricate musical activity, a ritardando leads back to the lento (at the end with a double-stopped flageolets over a G pedal tone).

The first performance took place during Penderecki’s chamber music festival in Lusławice in September of 1984 played by Grigorij Schislin, the Russian violinist and violist much experienced with Penderecki’s concertos for violin and for viola.

-Wolfram Schwinger, translated by Patrick Thomas and Richard Rieves


String Quartet No. 3 (2008) “Leaves from an Unwritten Diary

The Quartet is composed in a single movement with strongly defined subsections. Starting with an almost grave introduction, a dark, screaming melody in the viola leads directly into a driven, brilliant vivace in G minor which recurs throughout piece. Soon a beautiful waltz emerges, followed by a poignant and sweetly singing notturno, then back to the vivace pattern which Penderecki insisted we play “faster, faster.” By the end of our work with the composer in November we could barely play all the notes in this furious tempo. As we increased the tempo however, the excitement and intensity were slowly revealed. Towards the latter half of the composition, a spectacular gypsy melody appears, a theme that hasn’t been heard in any of the composer’s previous material. We asked Maestro Penderecki about this theme and he told us it’s a melody his father used to play on his violin when he was a child, perhaps a Romanian melody. Moments later comes the climax of this masterpiece, where all of the previously heard themes collide in a powerful moment that is full of intensity and drama. The end follows shortly after this: soft and introspective, almost walking off into the distance, with stopped harmonics played by the 2nd violin, echoing the gypsy melody as the work draws to a close.

-Excerpted from Nicholas Tzavaras of the Shanghai Quartet


Capriccio per Siegfried Palm

Besides the two cello concertos written late in life, Penderecki also wrote a Sonata for cello and orchestra in 1964 and a Capriccio for Siegfried Palm in 1968 – a work where the intimate friendship between the composer and the first interpreter was even emphasized in the title. Apart from traditional techniques, sounds are also created in this composition by playing fast arpeggios between the bridge and the fallpiece, hitting the bridge, producing the highest possible notes on one or more strings at a time and hitting the fingerboard with the palm of the hand. The musical directions in this colourful work are extremely detailed, including such instructions as “Play with the fingertips of the left hand” or “Pizzicato alla chitarra” (as on a guitar).

-Excerpted from liner notes of Contemporary European Cello Music (Acoustica)


Clarinet Quartet

Penderecki’s eclectic Clarinet Quartet creates the impression of a retrospective of European art music from the first half of the twentieth century, perhaps the missing link in Penderecki’s own oeuvre. The first and last movements evoke a solitary feeling with their sustained tones and expressive melodies. Penderecki maximizes the clarinet and viola timbres in achieving that character. These movements also benefit from the slightly darker and warmer clarinet in A, whereas the middle movements use the B-flat clarinet.

This melancholy music sounds rather more Scandinavian than Central European. Perhaps this might explain Penderecki’s own comment following a performance by the Tale Quartet: “It made me discover new aspects of my own music.’

The first movement of this quartet opens on the solo clarinet, similar to the Prelude in character as well as in its display of minor third steps. This develops into a duet with the viola in an almost Bartókian manner. Towards the end, the cello sustains a low pedal note on the open C string tuned down to B-flat.

The second movement, Vivacissimo, starts with a rhythmic ostinato in the strings and eventually develops into a dialogue with the clarinet. The very short third movement, Serenade, which follows without a break, is an absurd waltz. Schoenberg’s twelve-tone works could easily come to mind.

The most important part of this work is the last movement. It is a long slow journey from sorrowful darkness to the almost tonal lightness— although not without sadness—which closes the work with an F major chord.

It has been claimed that this work was inspired by Franz Schubert’s late String Quintet in C major. Although this is not obvious at first sight, the two works share the same property of a deeply personal intimacy.

-Per F. Groman, from liner notes of Krzysztof Penderecki: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2, Prelude for Clarinet solo, Der unterbrochene Gedanke, String trio, Quartet for Clarinet & String trio (BIS)


Sextet (2000)

Penderecki’s poetic universe of musical narration is dominated by a dialogue between personae represented by the individual instruments. They either speak in a single voice or present differing points of view. In their conversations, discussions, arguments, or bantering, they present musical ideas and characters, motives, and themes in an often masterly use of the counterpoint in varied types of instrumental textures. The internal integration of the musical material creates the image of a single field for this musical game. At the same time, the clear and condensed form of the piece drives home the pure beauty of artistic order.

The music of Sextet is characteristic in its restraint of means employed, in its rhythmical expressiveness, in the lightness, lucidity, and sophistication of its counterpointed system of the individual instruments; also, in its clear form and variety of expression. It offers the twinkling humour of scherzo themes and jesting, ironic, or even grotesque, allusions to characteristic dance rhythms, through multi- hued lyricism of concealed emotion to a nostalgic concentration on the inner world of a person conscious of his or her transience.

The dynamic Allegro moderato is maintained in vigorous and expressive time, with frequent asymmetric rhythm structures (a prevalence of the staccato). It begins with an accented and rest- separated repetition of A flat in the piano’s bass, which sets the centre of reference of the movement. Returns and pitch shifts of this motive (with different rhythm models) establish the general “tonal” plan of this section (A flat, D, F, D, A flat, D). This approach also returns in the repetition of accented chords, imparting on the narration a joyful dancing aura, and no wonder: note repetitions as a significant musical gesture (in its various functions) are part of the composer basic repertoire of musical language means. The primary theme – of a misleading simplicity and a jocular, somewhat capricious character - is introduced by the clarinet and contains motives from which other musical ideas of the first movement will derive. At bar 157/8, a lyrical- declamatory melodic phrase will appear in punctuated rhythm to anticipate the main theme of the second movement.

The extensive Larghetto contrasts in time and character with its predecessor and is the main part of the Sextet. Its singular and solemn theme, declamatory and expressive, is based on a falling sequence of minor seconds enhanced with a repetitive iambic rhythm pattern. It is presented in various instruments and undergoes refined development and transformation. Of particular note is the original part of the piano, different from its usual emploi. Repeated notes or dominating single-voice (or octave) recitative parts and figures of motion come side-by-side with segments set on several planes. Towards the end, a peculiar retrospection applies a different metaphysical perspective; dematerialized, echoing motives of nostalgia vanish into silence.

-Excerpt from program notes by Regina Chłopicka

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