Krzysztof Penderecki: A Polish Requiem

Krzysztof Penderecki: A Polish Requiem

by Antoni Wit
     
 

Given the circumstances of its composition, Krzysztof Penderecki might well have titled this work a Requiem for Poland rather than A Polish Requiem. Although it's not actually sung in Polish -- except for the appearance of the traditional hymn "Swiety Boze" near the conclusion -- several of its sections memorialize the trials that Poland suffered in theSee more details below

Overview

Given the circumstances of its composition, Krzysztof Penderecki might well have titled this work a Requiem for Poland rather than A Polish Requiem. Although it's not actually sung in Polish -- except for the appearance of the traditional hymn "Swiety Boze" near the conclusion -- several of its sections memorialize the trials that Poland suffered in the 20th century, including the Nazi occupation and the repression of the Solidarity movement. Yet Penderecki's music is as universal as any of the great Requiem masses in the repertoire, as dramatic as Verdi's and as moving as Britten's (if perhaps not quite as consoling as Fauré's). Composed mostly between 1980 and '84, the work reached its final state in '93 with the addition of the "Sanctus," and the style as a whole blends elements of Penderecki's early avant-garde experiments (which allow him to express vividly both the Last Judgment in the "Dies irae" and "eternal light" in the "Lux aeterna") and the more conventionally expressive neo-Romantic manner of his mature music. Along with the earlier St. Luke Passion, it's among the composer's most ambitious and imposing sacred works, with exceptionally powerful choral writing and equally striking parts for the four vocal soloists, from the sublime simplicity of the "Recordare Jesu pie" and "Lacrimosa" to the more impassioned solos -- especially those sung here by alto Jadwiga Rappé. With an all-Polish contingent of performers led by Antoni Wit, this important recording reveals the full stature of Penderecki's Polish Requiem, a searing work that meets the challenge of addressing -- and mourning for -- the traumas of its century.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Naxos continues its exploration into the major repertoire of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki with his "Polish Requiem," which has an interesting background in that its various sections were assembled over time, much in the manner of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Mass in B minor." Although the "Sanctus" wasn't added until 1993, most of the individual parts of the "Polish Requiem" were premiered separately between 1980 and 1984, and the work as a whole not given until 1985. In this form, Penderecki made a recording for Deutsche Grammophon in 1989 which, so far, has generally been adjudged the best. This Naxos recording, featuring conductor Antoni Wit and the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and chorus plus soloists Izabella Klosinska, Jadwiga Rappé, Ryszard Minkiewicz and Piotr Nowacki has arrived to give the composer's recording a run for its money. This is the second time around for conductor Antoni Wit in the "Polish Requiem," who recorded it back in 1985 for Polskie Nagrania, albeit minus the "Sanctus." Likewise this is the second appearance in the "Polish Requiem" for soloists Rappé and Piotr Nowacki, both of whom appeared on a recording of the work made by Penderecki for Chandos in 1996, this time including the "Sanctus." One frequently encountered criticism of Penderecki as an interpreter of his own music is that his sense of sound production from the orchestra tends to be thick and blocky. In the "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima," that's not a bad thing -- after all, it's nothing but blocks and intersections. Nonetheless, the "Polish Requiem" consists of a wide variety of orchestral textures, and Wit does an ideal job of highlighting each of the 16 sections of the work to their best advantage. The light in "Lux aeterna" breaks through as from heaven, the chaos of "Ingemisco tanquam reus" churns up as from hell, the ostinati and exciting percussion flourishes of "Libera me, domine" are spelled out with a sense of drama and urgency, and the giant major chords of the "Sanctus" shake you out of your seat. Of the soloists, Rappé is outstanding, particularly in the "Libera me, domine." Penderecki's "Polish Requiem" is a big deal, one of only a few late twentieth century works deserving the designation of "masterpiece." This Naxos release is likely the very best way that one might approach and enjoy it.
Gramophone - Arnold Whittall
This new recording, an all-Polish affair, certainly can’t be faulted for lack of fervour, and the work’s origins in a setting of the Lacrimosa dedicated to Gdansk shipyard workers...helps to explain the mixture of intensity and deliberation with which Penderecki approached his task.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/18/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313238620
catalogNumber:
8557386-87
Rank:
98398

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Polish Requiem, for SATB, chorus & orchestra  - Krzysztof Penderecki  - Ryszard Minkiewicz  - Piotr Nowacki  -  Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir  -  Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra  - Antoni Wit  - Henryk Wojnarowski  - Pavel Filonov  - Izabella Klosinska

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Antoni Wit   Primary Artist

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