The instrumental concerto occupies a very prominent place in the music of Krzysztof Penderecki. This fact is related to the great life force exhibited by this genre in twentieth century and in contemporary music. It is stimulated by commissions from virtuosos and by audience expectations; also favourable is the composers’ flexibility in approaching the form, whose chief idea continues to be the juxtaposition of the solo instrument and the orchestra. The violin and viola works presented on this CD are not only interesting, concrete realizations of the concertare idea in Penderecki’s music, but also examples of this composer’s sonic language and style in the period of his creativity which Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski called a "time of dialogue with the regained past".
First recordings of two powerful works from the pen of one of our major composers, John McCabe, who is celebrating his sixtieth birthday this year. Of Time and the River (the title is taken from Thomas Wolfe's novel) is actually the published title of McCabe's Fourth Symphony, written in 1993/4 to a commission by the BBC. The Flute Concerto was written for James Galway in 1989/90 and he gave the first performance of it in 1990 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra who commissioned the work. Here it is played by the outstanding young flautist Emily Beynon in her first recording for Hyperion.
"The five-movement Flute Concerto...is in part a Gaelic reverie dedicated to the composer's wife but it also embodies a response to one of those "isolated, individual tragedies which serve to sensitize us to the potential harm that man can do to his fellow." ... The composer has cited the work of the Irish singer Enya in connection with this concerto and it is certainly among the more accessible of his works: there's more clear diatonicism than rabid dissonance and plenty of quietly cathartic spiritual affirmation."
As Jan de Winne comments, the golden age of the transverse flute was 1740–80—though it hadn't done badly for many decades before that, no small thanks to mechanical improvements and the influential encouragement of, amongst others, Frederick the Great and prince elector Karl Theodor in Mannheim, both of whom were flautists…
– John Duarte, Gramophone