About this work

Penderecki's orchestral color study "Anaklasis", of approximately 6 minutes duration, was commissioned by Baden-Baden Radio and completed in 1960. It is scored for the unusual orchestral ensemble of 42 strings, celesta, harp, piano, claves, and six percussionists. It is similar to the compositions "De Natura Sonoris" Nos. 1 & 2 in being an open structure essay in new sounds. The first of the work's three sections opens with a extremely quiet drone and sharp stabs in the strings. Then eerie tremolo strings with slow slides is sustained for about a half minute, until high icy string harmonic form a new drone and a dense harmonic field is built up. Loud and vigorous drums, wood blocks, and cymbals seque into fast repeated notes on bells, piano, xylophone and vibraphone. The music then quietly drifts on a slowly undulating thin surface of strings. Trilling clusters amass and float away in frightened tremolos join by small percussive sounds. The final sounds we hear are objects (a pencil or something similar) are dropped on the piano strings, which are then crossed with a wire brush (producing an airy sound), struck in the lowest range with a soft tympani stick, and then plucked in a small interval with the fingers. The sounds just fade away.