MSE 013

Paweł Łukaszewski - Sacred music, 2007

fryderykNagroda Fryderyk 2008

Paweł Łukaszewski

dyr. Stephen Layton
dyr. Piotr Borkowski
dyr. Jan Łukaszewski
Anna Mikołajczyk-Niewiedział - sopran
Polski Chór Kameralny

1 VENI CREATOR (2004) 12:00

Polski Chór kameralny „Schola Cantorum Gedanensis”, cond. Jan Łukaszewski

2- 7 MESSA “Per voci e fiati” (2004) 17:27

2. Kyrie 3:44

3. Gloria 2:52

4. Offertorium 2:26

5. Sanctus 2:35

6. Agnus Dei 4:47

7. Ite missa est 1:01

The Holst Singers, Studio Warszawa Ensemble (director: Jerzy Wołosiuk) , cond. Stephen Layton

8-10 ORGAN CONCERTO (1996) 10:23

Wacław Golonka, Concerto Avenna, cond. Andrzej Mysiński

11 GAUDIUM ET SPES (1997) 13:18

11 Anna Mikołajczyk Niewiedział, Chór i Orkiestra Filharmonii Podlaskiej, cond. Piotr Borkowski

12-15 II SYMFONIA „Festinemus amare homines” (2005) 24:58

12. Festinemus 8:48

13. Tempus 5:02

14. Amamus 4:15

15. Decedunt 6:52

Agata Zubel-Moc, Katarzyna Trylnik, Anna Haas-Niewiedział, Piotr Niewiedział, Chór Kameralny Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu, dyr. Krzysztof Szydzisz, Chór Kameralny "Classic" Uniwersytetu im. I.A. Bunina w Jelcu (Rosja), dyr. Jaroslaw Gorbik, Chór Liturgiczny Uniwersytetu w Leeds (Wielka Brytania), dyr. Bryan White, Chór Kameralny "Astrolabium" Wyższej Szkoły Bankowej w Toruniu, dyr. Kinga Litowska, Chór "DAINA" Uniwersytetu Rolniczego w Kownie (Litwa), dyr. Ramune Navickiene, Chór Kameralny Moskiewskiego Uniwersytetu Pedagogiczne-go (Rosja), dyr. Olga Burova, Chór Szkoły Wyższej im. Władysława Jagiełły w Lublinie "Musica Mundana", dyr. Jacek Piech, Chór "Bartok" Uniwersytetu w Miskolc (Węgry), dyr. Zoltan Sandor, Edit Papp, Orkiestra Sym-foniczna Poznańskiej Ogólnokształcącej Szkoły Muzycznej II-stopnia, Orkiestra Kameralna Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu

(director:Aleksander Gref), cond. Łukasz Borowicz


The first disc is on the Polish label Musica Sacra Edition and consists of five scores: Veni creator (2004), Messa per voci e fiati (2004), Organ Concerto (1996), Gaudium et Spes (1997) and the Symphony No.2 ‘Festinemus amare homines’ (1997).

The Veni creator (2004) for two unaccompanied choirs uses the Roman Catholic rite Veni Creator Spiritus that is sung at Pentecost, vespers and on solemn occasions such as: a Church Dedication, Confirmation of Bishops and Holy Orders. The score, recorded live here, begins with the text Accénde lumen sénsibus (Thy light to evr'y thought impart). Łukaszewski uses the whole text of the hymn Veni Creator. At the beginning of the score is the German translation and at the end the original Latin text.

The Veni Creator was written to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and was commissioned by the Akademie Klausenhof in Germany and the Polish Ministry of Culture. In the score Łukaszewski has fused elements of both the German and Polish cultures. At the start there is one bar taken from J. S. Bach’s Motet Komm, Jesu, komm and in the middle there is a one bar quote from a Chopin Scherzo. The Latin language provides a balance between these two cultures that Łukaszewski hopes, “ can be a bridge between our nations.” The composer has pointed out that the first performance of the Veni Creator was on the 2nd April 2005 in Gdansk, poignantly just 27 minutes after the Polish born Pope John Paul II died.

In the Veni creator the ethereal tones of the a-cappella chorus of the excellent Polish Chamber Choir washes over the listener like a balm. There are a couple of episodes of greater weight and intensity that soon drift back to the prevailing mood of calm. I noticed some background noise on the recordings but nothing to worry about with the otherwise agreeable sound. Jan Łukaszewski’s Polish Chamber Choir give a dignified interpretation of solemnity blended with sheer beauty of tone.

The Messa per voci e fiati is a Latin setting of the ordinary mass of the Roman Catholic rite that was completed in 2004. It is cast in six movements one of which is instrumental. The Mass is scored for a choir and woodwind octet, comprising pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons. Łukaszewski was commissioned to write the Mass by the Medical University in Lublin, Poland. The composer states, “It is possible to perform this work during Holy Mass.” The score was recorded live from the Monastery at Jasna Góra, Częstochowa, Poland, occupied by the Order of the Pauline Fathers, famous as the home of the miraculous icon of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa.

The Messa per voci e fiati commences with an uplifting Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) with the woodwind octet providing light orchestral accompaniment. The attractive and quirkily melodic Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest) has a similar sound world with slightly more pointed writing followed by the Offertorium an orchestral interlude of a quasi-bucolic character. Inhabiting a similar sound-world to the first and second movements the Sanctus (Holy) has at times a more assertive quality. The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) is the longest movement taken at a slightly slower pace. Noticeable is the central section where the mood gradually builds in intensity. The shortest movement is the Ite missa est (Go, it is the dismissal) that demands a chant-like rendition of the text. The splendidly matched voices of the Holst Singers under Stephen Layton provide polished and splendidly consistent performances. Some slight background noise is discernable on this live recording although it didn’t detract from the pleasing sound.

A commission from the Organ Music Conservatory Festival in Legnica, Poland the Concerto for Organ and Strings from 1996 is a magnificent score in the classical model that deserves to be better known. The Organ Concerto opens with a Moderato movement of moody, bold and restless organ writing over galloping low strings. Tinged with a pastoral character I enjoyed the ethereal, still and mysterious central movement Adagio. The glorious theme on the strings is affecting and could easily become quite a Radio hit if given the right exposure. In the closing movement marked Moderato I was struck by the ardent and sparkling waves of sound. Noticeably the musical language is principally tonal with the occasional unconventional harmony. The Concerto Avenna Ensemble under Andrzej Mysiński is to be congratulated for their undeniably impressive playing and Wacław Golonka is the talented organist. Recorded in the magnificent Legnica Cathedral, Poland with an impressive sound quality.

A commission from Polish Radio the Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) is the name of the ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World’ from documents of the Second Vatican Council promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1965. Completed in 1997 the Gaudium et Spes is scored for soprano, mixed choir and orchestra. The detailed instrumentation is 2 bassoons, 2 contrafagotto, 4 horns, 4 trombones, 24 violins, 10 violas, 8 cellos, 6 double bass and battery of percussion with 4-5 players, a piano, soprano soloist and a choir of some 80 members.

The Gaudium et Spes is the first movement of the composer’s Symphony No.1 - Symphony of Providence that combines with the other three movements: Exsultet (2003), Terra nova et caelum novum (2006) and Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum (2008).

Strings and percussion dominate the early section of the score with a consistently deep and dark coloration to the writing. The outstanding female soloist soprano Anna Mikołajczyk-Niewiedział provides a magnificent change of mood before the writing develops a stormy quality. The Orkiestra i Chór Filharmonii Podlaskiej under conductor Piotr Borkowski invite admiration for their thoughtful and expressive performances.

The feature work of this compelling Musica Sacra Edition release is the Symphony No.2 ‘Festinemus amare homines’ (Let’s hurry to love people) a Latin setting of an essentially secular text by Polish priest and poet Rev. Jan Twardowski. Completed in 2005 the score was Łukaszewski’s postdoctoral thesis for his esteemed habilitation qualification at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Warsaw. The score was a commission from Universitas Cantat - International Festival of University Choirs from Poznan, Poland. For this recording the numerous choirs that were attending the above choir festival participated in the performance for this recording.

For his setting of Twardowski’s Polish text Łukaszewski was provided with a Latin translation by a renowned scholar. The composer makes the observation that any new Latin text is a rare occurrence in Poland today. Łukaszewski felt that the Latin language suited the setting as the translation could conceal some of the Polish words from Twardowski’s poem that are awkward to set such as ‘telephone’, ‘dolphin’ and ‘cow’. An English translation is provided in the footnotes.

The Symphony No.2 ‘Festinemus amare homines’ is cast in four movements with the titles: 1. Festinemus (Let's hurry), 2. Tempus (Time), 3. Amamus (Love), 4. Decedunt (They leave). The composer explained that his, “…general idea was a reduction of sound material and harmony. I also decided not compose here for winds; the pianos are the percussion instruments in this score.” The score calls for large forces comprising of: 2 sopranos, 2 SATB choirs (with 60 voices each), 2 pianos, a symphony orchestra of 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, a large battery of percussion for 5-6 players, 24 violins, 10 violas, 6 cellos and 6 double bass.

A powerful and dramatic work dominated by thunderclap-like percussion, throbbing strings and massed choirs provide a sense of fear and foreboding. There are episodes of relative calm, yet one senses an underlying sense of nervous anxiety. To open the Symphony in the Festinemus at 1:45-2:18 remarkable is the tolling bell, the expressive and luxuriantly voiced female soloist and the rather recessed choir that combine to provide a welcome respite from the prevailing menacing character. In the Tempus I was struck by the vividly moving tones of the female soloist that opens the movement. The threatening and powerful Amamus with its pounding percussion communicates a dark and threatening mood. Of note is the ethereal mood of the repetitive chants of Licet maius from the choir followed by the tolling bell and the recessed choir. The emotionally charged final movement Decedunt is dominated by the two pianos and tough pounding percussion over fretful and pulsating strings that exude a heady and exotic middle-eastern flavour. The remarkable power, energy and drama of the Symphony No.2 ‘Festinemus amare homines’ makes the score one that just has to be heard.

This Musica Sacra Edition disc is intended for the Polish home market and there is little in the way of any English translations of the titles and texts. In addition it is difficult to ascertain the actual scoring of the works. I found the sound quality of a high standard and was especially impressed with the recording balance that the engineers had achieved.

Michael Cookson music web international


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