Cello Concerto No. 2
Penderecki’s Cello Concerto No. 2 was written five
years after his Violin Concerto No. 1
– a manifestation of Penderecki’s new style. Between the two concerti, the
composer had expressed his fascination with late 19th-century music
in a great concert form that in a sense codified his current musical language: Symphony No. 2 “Christmas Symphony”. This
new language is evident for example in the presence of idiomatic melodic motifs
based on a descending semitone, tritone and minor thirds.
The specific neoromantic emotional climate is fully manifest in the one-part concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich – a display of instrumental virtuosity. This concerto confirms the thesis that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, creative dialogue with tradition was at the heart of the composer’s interests. At the same time, Cello Concerto No. 2 contains echoes of sonoristic thinking – more than Penderecki’s other works from this period, when one might have thought that the composer had quite abandoned that style. This is best reflected in the score, which makes use of both the old partly graphic and his new traditional forms of notation. The audience can also discover coloristic and timbral qualities in the work, for instance in the incessant repetitions of one sound that introduce the slow sections, evoking a mysterious atmosphere.