“Chamber music”, says Krzysztof Penderecki, “is the most difficult of all. Composing an oratorio is not a problem for me. I just sit down with some paper and write, but with chamber music, where every note has to be in the right place, you can’t gloss over anything. Everything is [...] of equal importance.” The Polish composer, born in Debica in 1933, described his own move to the genre of chamber music from the early 1990s as a retreat “into intimacy”. It is no surprise that since then, he has struck a previously unaccustomed lyrical tone in his works for small ensembles.
The Duo concertante for violin and double bass composed by Penderecki for Anne-Sophie Mutter opens this philharmonic chamber concert – played by the 1st concertmaster of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Noah Bendix-Balgley, and Matthew McDonald, the orchestra’s 1st principal bass. This is followed by Hindemith’s Sonata for double bass and piano, a work which the soloist of the often ridiculed deep string instrument comes up with all kinds of technical refinements such as harmonics, rich ornamentation and charming pizzicato with the double bass and piano merging to form an artistic whole. (The piano part is played by the French pianist Yannick Rafalimanana.)
No less impressive is Claude Debussy’s Piano Trio in G major. Written in 1880, it is regarded as an early work of an up-and-coming talent who had yet to find his own musical language. The evening rounds off with Schubert’s well-known Trout Quintet with the addition of Máté Szűcs, 1st principal viola with the Philharmoniker. The character of the music, serene and free from conflict, is accentuated in the eponymous variation movement by virtue of the fact that Schubert unceremoniously omits the dramatic disruption of the third verse of the song, both in the theme and in the variations themselves.