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Work of the Week – Krzysztof Penderecki: 3. Sinfonie

The Passacaglia from Krzysztof Penderecki’s 3. Sinfonie features in choreographer Goyo Montero’s latest dance piece, Dürer’s Dog. Inspired by the paintings of German renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, the premiere will be on 25 November at the Staatstheater in Nuremburg.

In the 1980s, Penderecki was commissioned to write a symphonic work but although he began writing immediately, only the current fourth movement, Passacaglia, and a Rondo, which would become the second movement, were completed by the premiere in 1988. It would take until 1995 for the work to be performed in its entirety. The piece is rooted firmly in the tradition of the genre with its five movements connected by overarching themes and structures.

Krzysztof Penderecki – 3.Sinfonie: Passacaglia’s life of its own

Passacaglia made its way into the conscience of millions of filmgoers when it featured in Martin Scorsese’s thriller Shutter Island (2010) starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Penderecki’s use of constant repetition and harsh rhythmic fragments were a perfect accompaniment to the film’s atmosphere of apprehension and discomfort.

One cannot simply plant a few trees, it needs order and a shape. It is similar to music: all my works have a clear form – I am not an improvisator. – Krzysztof Penderecki

Dürer’s Dog will run from 25 November until 9 February 2018. Penderecki’s 2. Sinfonie (Christmas Symphony) can be heard on 14 December in Budapest with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra and Keri-Lynn Wilson.