Jonny Greenwood’s Penderecki-inspired 48 Responses to Polymorphia for strings was performed at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom on 21 April as part of The Bridge Festival, from the combined forces of Ensemble Resonanz, the Scottish Ensemble, and the Trondheim Soloists, conducted by Catherine Larsen-Maguire.
Greenwood’s 19-minute piece is a musical answer to Krzysztof Penderecki's 1962 masterpiece Polymorphia for 48 string instruments. Both pieces summon an astonishing array of effects from the strings, including microtones, slapping the instruments, and playing on the tailpiece and behind the bridge. 48 Responses to Polymorphia made its starting point the expectation-defying C-major chord that concludes Penderecki’s piece and explores it across nine movements. Penderecki, who died last year, has been a powerful influence on Greenwood’s music since the early 1990s; the composer conducted the premiere of Greenwood’s piece in Poland in 2011.
Alongside the Penderecki piece that inspired Greenwood, the programme also featured a performance of O Ecclesia, Tom Coult’s arrangement of Hildegard von Bingen for violin and strings, with the solo part performed by Jonathan Morton.