Penderecki: Symphony No 7 / Wit, Warsaw National Po, Et Al
Antoni Wit's ongoing cycle of Penderecki orchestral works is yet another of those truly outstanding Naxos projects that's unlikely to get the attention it deserves. The music isn't easy, or popular, but Wit is a marvellous conductor in this repertoire, and his unfailingly intense and idiomatic performances look to become the standard by which all others will be judged. This new release just may be the best so far.
The Seven Gates, though largely unthreatening in its use of consonant harmony, is a very difficult work to perform. The choral and solo writing is tiring (if often incredibly moving and impressive), and the presence of a lengthy narration may bother some listeners. In my opinion Penderecki is one of the very few composers who can pull it off, and here he does so magnificently.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about this recording is its ability to be serious (isn't Penderecki always?) without sounding labored, or relentlessly heavy. Partly it's a function of really exceptional choral singing and a uniformly high-quality bunch of soloists. The rest, though, is Wit's ideal pacing and that feeling for timbre and texture that made his Messiaen Turangalila-Symphonie so memorable. In short, even if you don't normally warm to Penderecki, you probably will find this disc surprisingly appealing. The sung texts are available on Naxos' website, but it's just as much fun to simply wallow in the evocative sonorities that Penderecki gets from his very large vocal and instrumental forces. Excellent engineering makes the music both rage and shimmer as it must. A splendid release in every way! [1/24/2007]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: 8557766
Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki
Conductor: Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble: Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir, Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra
Performer: Aga Mikolaj, Boris Carmeli, Ewa Marciniec, Olga Pasichnyk, Romuald Tesarowicz, Wieslaw Ochman