Concerto for Five Instruments and String Quartet op. 11
Concerto for Five Instruments and String Quartet was Górecki’s first composition for an atypical line-up of instruments. Among the five instruments of the title, three are traditional – flute, clarinet and trumpet – and are joined by xylophone and mandolin, with this ensemble complemented by a string quartet. The full instrumentation only appears in the fourth part, the finale, where in the previous parts Górecki operates mostly with selected instruments performing solo or playing in duos. Unlike most of his earlier works, the Concerto for Five Instruments and String Quartet opens with a slow movement: a long line by the solo flute that then enters into a duo with the viola and finally with the violin. The second part introduces more lively musical action, with phrases of successive instrumental duos appearing in more rapid, more diverse sequence. The third part is calmer and slower, then the finale brings an expressive culmination and the most lively rhythms. The composition draws on pointillist textural ideas known mostly from the music of Webern. Rhythmic energy and strong forward drive are restrained in the musical narrative here, and the composer focuses instead on refined sound derived from rarefied textures and the use of atypical instrumental groupings. The composer’s pronounced sensitivity to sound was soon to have an even stronger impact on his music.