"Jonny Greenwood Shows a Deft Classical Touch," Says LA Times; He "Has Something Original to Say"
Two works by composer/guitarist Jonny Greenwood were paired with the works that inspired them by composer Krzysztof Penderecki—whom the Independent dubbed "Poland's godfather of the musical avant-garde"—for an album released on Nonesuch Records this spring: Greenwood's Popcorn Superhet Receiver and 48 Responses to Polymorphia with Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and Polymorphia (for 48 strings). While rock musicians of a generation prior to the 40-year-old Greenwood's may have made similar overtures into the world of orchestral composition with limited success, "Jonny Greenwood shows a deft classical touch," says the Los Angeles Times in an article examining his work.
Greenwood "has something original to say" in his compositional work, writes Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed. He "works as a pop musician in a studio might, toying individually with tracks and finding the right complex mixtures of sonorities."
The performance of Popcorn Superhet Receiver on the Nonesuch album, by the AUKSO Orchestra and conductor Marek Mos, is "dramatically gripping," says Swed, and on 48 Responses to Polymorphia, where he leads off from the final chord of Penderecki's Polymorphia, "Greenwood plays with that chord in a variety of clever and graceful ways, stepping in a Bach bath at first and ticktocking his way out in the last response."
Swed goes on to discuss Greenwood's film scores for Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood and Tran Anh Hung's adaptation of Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood, both released on Nonesuch, writing of the latter that "Greenwood's dreamy, haunting score has the brilliant ephemerality not heard on film since the great Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu died two decades ago."
Read the article at latimes.com.
Earlier this month, Jonny Greenwood's music was paired with the work of another iconic composer, John Cage, for a concert performance by the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, led by the festival's resident conductor, John Kennedy, at the College of Charleston Sottile Theater on June 3. On the program were Greenwood's 48 Responses to Polymorphia and his earlier work Doghouse as well as the American premiere performances of the last Cage works yet to be heard in the US: the orchestral trilogy Twenty-Six, Twenty-Eight, and Twenty-Nine (1991).
The New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn, reviewing the concert, says that Greenwood "writes for classical ensembles better than most rock stars with classical aspirations." Kozinn goes on to say that 48 Responses to Polymorphia "tests the flexibility if not quite the limitations of a string orchestra as it moves from Vaughan Williams-like luxuriousness to a gently dissonant shimmer and, in its final section, an inventively rhythmic workout that involves beating the strings with what looked like a hard seedpod instead of a bow." Read the concert review at nytimes.com.
The repertoire from the Penderecki/Greenwood Nonesuch album will be performed by at this year's Open'er Festival in Gdynia, Poland, on July 5. Performing in the concert is the AUKSO Orchestra, which performs on the album. For information, go to opener.pl.
To pick up a copy of the album, head to the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include a download of the complete album at checkout. The music is also available to purchase there as MP3s and FLAC lossless files.