Partita (Penderecki)

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The Partita for Harpsichord and Orchestra, [1] sometimes also referred to as Partita for Harpsichord, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Harp, Double Bass, and Chamber Orchestra [2] [3] [4] or Harpsichord Concerto, is a composition by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. It was finished in 1971 and is Penderecki's only major composition for a harpsichord soloist.



Penderecki's Partita was commissioned by the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York to commemorate the institution's 50th anniversary. [5] The work was finished in 1971 and had its first hearing in Rochester on February 7, 1972, with Felicja Blumenthal playing the harpsichord and Walter Hendl conducting the Eastman School of Music Philharmonia. [6] It was initially conceived as a Partita for Harpsichord; however, the electric guitar, the bass guitar, the harp and a double bass had a quite significant role in the work. Accordingly, when Penderecki revised the composition in 1991 and premiered the revised version on January 5, 1992, these instruments had credit as well. [5] The second premiere took place in Munich, with Elisabeth Chojnacka at the harpsichord, Michael Goltz at the electric guitar, Hans Lengefeld at the bass guitar, Han-An Liu at the harp, Matthias Weber at the double bass, and Penderecki himself conducting the Munich Philharmonic. [3]


The work is in only one movement. However, some sources suggest that the work can be divided into two sections, marked Allegro ma non troppo and Allegro molto in the score. [5] No recording has divided the work into such sections. [2] Even though the title of the composition may misleadingly suggest a standard suite of dances or dance-related movements, it is generally conceived as a concerto grosso and variation form. [7]

The compositions starts with the strings, which play long, asynchronical notes, some of them a semi-tone away. After that, a whole set of trills, fast arpeggios and uneven rhythms is displayed. It is worth mentioning the implementation of three cadenzas for harpsichord, which were added by the composer for the second premiere of the work. [5]

Notable recordings

Here is a list of some of the most well-known recordings of this piece:

OrchestraConductorHarpsichordistRecord CompanyYear of RecordingFormat
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki Felicja Blumental EMI 1972CD [1]
Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki Elzbieta Stefanska-Lukowicz Erato 1979CD [8]
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra Antoni Wit Elzbieta Stefanska-Lukowicz Naxos 2009CD [9]

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  1. 1 2 "Penderecki: Orchestral Works". Warner Classics. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Blue" Gene Tyranny. "Partita, for harpsichord, electric guitar, bass guitar, harp, double-bass & orchestra". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  3. 1 2 Penderecki, Krzysztof. "Partita für konzertierendes Cembalo, elektrische Gitarre, Bassgitarre, Harfe, Kontrabass und Orchester". Schott Music. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  4. Lindeman, Stephan D. (2006). The Concerto: A Research and Information Guide. New York: Taylor & Francis Group. p. 412. ISBN   978-0-415-97619-0 . Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Partita for harpsichord, electric guitar, bass-guitar, harp, double bass and orchestra". Narodowy Instytut Audiowizualny. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  6. Whitehouse, Richard. "PENDERECKI, K.: Fonogrammi / Horn Concerto / Partita / The Awakening of Jacob / Anaklasis / De natura sonoris No. 1 (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit) – Liner Notes". Naxos Digital Services. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  7. McGill, Raymond (2004). Penderecki - Cello Concerto No. 2 - Partita - Stabat Mater (Liner Notes of Apex 2564 61932-2). Warner Classics. p. 3.
  8. "Penderecki* : Rostropovich*, Philharmonia Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Des Südwestfunks – Concerto N° 2 Pour Violoncelle · Partita". Discogs. 1987. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  9. "PENDERECKI, K.: Fonogrammi / Horn Concerto / Partita / The Awakening of Jacob / Anaklasis / De natura sonoris No. 1 (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit)". Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services. 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2014.