You already know the music of Krzysztof Penderecki. Recall The Exorcist, The Shining, and Shutter Island, masterpieces of anxiety-provoking cinema, supported in part by scores by the Polish composer, who died in 2020. The Molinari Quartet, our national treasure of anti-banal chamber music, tackles here the string quartet repertoire (with or without the addition of other instruments) of this giant of modernism, admired as much by David Lynch as by Aphex Twin and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood.
Not only did Penderecki have a definite influence on avant-garde rock and electro, but above all he was one of the pioneers of avant-garde modernism in twentieth-century classical music. That said, his career path is atypical in that, unlike many of his predecessors, he launched his career by challenging, sometimes violently, the classical tradition, only to move closer to it and even embrace it at the end of his life.
In this sense, this album from the excellent imprint ATMA Classique invites us to advance through his work, as though the tracklist were an autobiographical document by the Polish composer. It begins with the dissonant splashes, incisive sound marks of an energetic temperament, of the first two quartets. Then we move on to a musical universe that gradually rediscovers the virtues of classical consonance and architecture, divisions into well-chiselled movements, and these movements sometimes in the form of ABA, one of the fundamental bases of sonata form since Haydn.
We end the journey with the third quartet, written in 2008 and a sort of summary of his stylistic evolution, carried by an easily understandable and well-structured narration.
The Molinari Quartet plays, with conviction, strength, and passion, music that’s indispensable to all those who sincerely love the best music that the last century has bequeathed to us.