PARK CITY INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL, Temple Har Shalom, Park City, July 25

Composer Krzysztof Penderecki has been a major name in music since the 1960s. For some reason, though, he is not as well known in the United States as he is in Europe. Perhaps it's because his music is not easily categorized. Penderecki writes what he feels, not what is currently popular — and that makes it nearly impossible to put him into any stylistic box. His music is intense and demanding for both musicians and listeners, and most of his works are certainly worth hearing.

Penderecki's Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio was on the program at Sunday's Park City International Music Festival, played by Utah Symphony clarinetist Russell Harlow, violist Leslie Harlow and BYU faculty members Monte Belknap, violin, and Julie Bevan, cello.

The work is challenging for its wide range of expressions. Each of the four movements is starkly different from each other, and it takes musicians with solid interpretive skills to bring a needed cohesiveness to the work. The four who played it managed to do just that. They gave a well articulated and expressive performance.

The slow opening movement is otherworldly, almost hypnotic. It's built up on long held notes that weave in and out of each string instrument. The clarinet predominates; it opens the movement with a lengthy solo and plays off the three strings.

Russell Harlow played fabulously. He brought feeling to his part and brought lyricism to the movement.

The second movement scherzo is frenetic and angular. The four gave a rhythmically solid reading that conveyed the ruggedness of the music convincingly. They were sensitive to the details in the movement and they brought that out with their nuanced playing.

The third movement is a waltz in name only. It's really more of a parody, but not in the way someone like Dmitri Shostakovich twisted traditional forms, though. Penderecki puts his own spin on it and it was played compellingly.

The last movement returns to the evocative character of the opening movement. The four captured the plangent nature of the music forcefully. They gave a powerful account that was stunningly expressive, sincere and heartfelt.

Also on Sunday's program was Ludwig van Beethoven's Serenade for String Trio, op. 8.

The serenade is an early work that is very much part of the 18th-century tradition of divertimentos, or music for entertainment, in its scope, direction and style.

It is also a wonderful essay in string writing, especially as it was played by Belknap, Leslie Harlow and Bevan. The sonorous string writing was played with resonance. The three brought a richness to their sound that gave the music a romantic feel. They meshed wonderfully together. It was a homogeneous sound yet each player also brought something distinct to the performance.

It was a great collaboration all around. They brought out the lyricism of the work and captured its lightness with their fluid playing. Their reading was engaging and captivating for its mellifluousness.

The concert opened with a divertimento by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that was originally scored for the now obsolete bassett horn, an instrument favored by Mozart in his later years and for which he wrote some wonderfully expressive pieces.

This particular divertimento has been arranged for various instrumental combinations, and the one that was played Sunday is scored for clarinet, viola and cello (and played by Russell Harlow, Leslie Harlow and Bevan).

Eighteenth century divertimentos were background music for social gatherings and normally not very sophisticated. But those Mozart wrote — and he wrote quite a few — were anything but insignificant, especially the later ones. And this piece is certainly more interesting than most divertimentos from the same time.

The Harlows and Bevan brought a light touch to their playing that underscored the lyricism of the five-movement work. The Larghetto in particular was beautifully phrased, and Russell Harlow brought an easy fluidity to his playing.

The festival concludes next week with concerts on July 31 at 8 p.m. in the Park City Community Church and on Aug. 1 at 3p.m. in the Rose Wagner Center for the Performing Arts. There will also be a house concert on Aug. 2. For concert and ticket information contact the festival office at 435-649-5309 or by e-mail at chmusic@pcmusicfestival.com.

e-mail: ereichel@desnews.com