Cello Concerto No. 1 (Penderecki)

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Krzysztof Penderecki's Cello Concerto No. 1, also known by its original Italian title Concerto per violoncello ed orchestra, Nr. 1, [1] is a revised version of Penderecki's Concerto per violino grande e orchestra, which was never published nor recorded. It was transcribed for cello in 1973.


Composition and premiere

The concerto, which was commissioned by Bronisław Eichenholz, [2] was initially conceived for a violino grande, an instrument with five strings [3] which combines the ranges of the violin and the viola. It was finished in 1967 and first performed in Östersund on July 1, 1967. Eichenholz played the violino grande on this occasion, and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra played under the baton of Henryk Czyż. [4] However, this version of the concerto was only performed twice and never received much attention. [3] After this performance, it was only performed again once in the Hopkins Center Congregation of the Arts, during the Fourth International Webern Festival, held at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. [5]

Five years afterwards, Penderecki decided to transcribe the concerto, replacing the violino grande with a cello. It was dedicated to Siegfried Palm, who also premiered it on September 7, 1972, in the Edinburgh Festival. This transcribed version of the concerto was published by the Polish Music Publishing House and the Moeck Musikinstrumente + Verlag. [4]


The original version of the Concerto consisted of two movements, namely, Quasi purgatorio and Suoni celeste. [3] However, the final version is in one movement only. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to perform. It features a lento introduction with an initial cadenza, which was composed ex professo for some of its performances. [6]


Despite the fact that the first version was only performed twice, it garnered positive reviews from critics. Shirley Fleming, from High Fidelity, called it a fascinating piece. [5]

Notable recordings

Following are some of the most well-known recordings of this piece:

CelloOrchestraConductorRecord CompanyYear of RecordingFormat
Siegfried Palm Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki EMI 1972 LP and CD [3] [4] [7]
Arto Noras Sinfonia Varsovia Krzysztof Penderecki Finlandia Records 2001CD [3] [8]

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  1. "Concerto per violino grande e orchestra". Nadorowy Instytut Audiowizualny. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  2. Avis, Peter (2007). Penderecki: Orchestral Works. EMI Records Ltd.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Cello Concerto No. 1". Nadorowy Instytut Audiowizualny. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 Bylander, Cindy (January 2004). Krzysztof Penderecki : a bio-bibliography. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. ISBN   0-313-25658-6.|accessdate=February 16, 2014
  5. 1 2 Fleming, Shirley (October 1968). "Hanover, N. H.: Webern, Krenek, & a New Violin". High Fidelity/Musical America. 18 (10).
  6. "Penderecki Leads BSO in Un-Haydn Program". Baltimore Sun. April 8, 1972.
  7. "Penderecki: Orchestral Works". WarnerClassics.com. Warner Classics. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  8. "Arto Noras Penderecki: Complete Cello Concertos". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 22 February 2014.