Jonny Greenwood / Krzysztof Penderecki

Preview piece for the Barbican Centre Guide, 2012

The seething, anguished strings, subterranean rumblings and eerie vistas in sound: there are few more emblematic and atmospheric works of the 1960s avant-garde than Krzysztof Penderecki's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima. It maintains its visceral impact over fifty years after it was written.

With this piece, and other early works such as Polymorphia (1962), Penderecki has informed the way we see things, through that music's astonishing presence in films such as Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, William Friedkin's The Exorcist and David Lynch's Inland Empire.

Penderecki's influence on a younger generation of supremely imaginative composers is represented in this concert by Jonny Greenwood, whose Popcorn Superhet Receiver was inspired by the Threnody and by the swirling sounds of radio static. Greenwood's piece too has formed a powerful backdrop to picture in the Oscar-winning There Will Be Blood.

Greenwood has now prepared a new work further demonstrating the inspiration of Penderecki, 48 Responses to Polymorphia. This continuing, fruitful exchange between these two composers and the moving image is also highlighted at this event by a specially commissioned lighting and video design and by a recording of all these pieces, which will be released by Nonesuch later this year.

© Leo Chadburn, 2012