Krzysztof Penderecki: St Luke Passion

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Most people probably consider the genre of the "Passion" to be synonymous either with J. S. Bach or Mel Gibson. But a few composers have proposed modern musical interpretations of the Crucifixion narrative, including Krzyzstof Penderecki in his St. Luke Passion of 1966. (Arvo Pärt's Passio is another late-20th-century essay in the form, and a vastly different one.) Penderecki is best known for the visceral sonic assault of experimental works such as his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1961), although time has progressively mellowed this Polish composer's style. What is still most striking about his Passion is how compellingly it blends avant-garde techniques -- ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Most people probably consider the genre of the "Passion" to be synonymous either with J. S. Bach or Mel Gibson. But a few composers have proposed modern musical interpretations of the Crucifixion narrative, including Krzyzstof Penderecki in his St. Luke Passion of 1966. (Arvo Pärt's Passio is another late-20th-century essay in the form, and a vastly different one.) Penderecki is best known for the visceral sonic assault of experimental works such as his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1961), although time has progressively mellowed this Polish composer's style. What is still most striking about his Passion is how compellingly it blends avant-garde techniques -- especially Penderecki's innovative textures and hovering tone clusters -- with more traditional styles of choral and vocal writing. All of this contributes equally to the emotional resonance of music and story alike, and it's no wonder the Passion has become one of the composer's most renowned works, for its impact is both powerful and enduring. It has been recorded before -- once with Penderecki himself conducting -- but this new performance is as fine as any you're likely to encounter. The all-Polish forces, including a trio of commanding singers (plus actor Krzysztof Kolberger speaking the lines of the Evangelist), are led by conductor Antoni Wit in a thoroughly mesmerizing reading of the challenging score, and there's not a weak link to be heard. Just as important, the recorded sound is brilliant, marking out a richly resonant acoustic space but also capturing details of great subtlety. Making this disc even more irresistible is the price tag: As it so often does, the Naxos label makes adventurous listening such a bargain that there's no excuse to pass it up.
All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Krzysztof Penderecki's "St. Luke Passion Passio et mors Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Lucam" is considered by many to be a landmark work in the history of twentieth century. One would not know that from the degree to which the work has been recorded; since its 1965 premiere, the "St. Luke Passion" has only been recorded in its entirety three times. This includes the original 1966 Polish recording under Henryk Czyz, a recording for Argo under the composer made in 1989, and finally a live performance led by Marc Soustrot for MD&G in 1999. Thus, Naxos' Penderecki: St. Luke Passion, recorded in 2002, is only the fourth entry in the slim Penderecki "St. Luke Passion" sweepstakes. Conductor Antoni Wit takes the Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra by the hand and leads it through this difficult and treacherous score. Wit is an old hand with anything Penderecki, having already recorded all of Penderecki's orchestral music on three Naxos volumes. Wit manages to keep the orchestra together and in one voice, and the chorus is splendid, ululating, exploding, and wailing ecstatically just as Penderecki requires it to. Vocal soloists Izabella Klosinska, Adam Kruszewski, and Jaroslaw Malanowicz are a bit of a drag on the proceedings. All three seem barely up to their parts and happy just to get through them without bursting their lungs. The recording is also a little distant and balanced toward extremes of volume -- soft passages are barely audible, whereas loud ones tear your head off. Landmark work or not, one can easily see why Penderecki's "St. Luke Passion" isn't recorded with more frequency. It is big, expensive, and difficult to perform and a real challenge for the listener. Conventional wisdom dictates that Penderecki's own 1989 recording of the "St. Luke Passion" is the best on records, and the Wit, while good, doesn't quite rise to the challenge. Nevertheless, in a pinch, especially as the Penderecki performance no longer seems to be available, the Naxos is a viable option, and one can't beat the asking price.
Gramophone - Arnold Whitall
It’s the relatively brief moments of almost expressionistic drama (especially those surrounding the death of Christ) which come off best, aided by a pungently immediate recording, complete with rasping organ and blazing brass.... The soloists are all excellent.

It’s the relatively brief moments of almost expressionistic drama (especially those surrounding the death of Christ) which come off best, aided by a pungently immediate recording, complete with rasping organ and blazing brass.... The soloists are all excellent.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/20/2004
  • Label: Naxos
  • UPC: 747313214921
  • Catalog Number: 8557149
  • Sales rank: 91,632

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Antoni Wit Primary Artist
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