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Stanisław MORYTO (b.1947)
Legnica Mass (2000) [18:21]
Missa Solemnis (2004) [25:58]
Missa Brevis pro defunctis (2005) [18:36]
Barbara Sobstyl-Szczerbaczewicz (soprano); Aneta Łukaszewicz (mezzo); Tomasz Piętak (baritone); Maciej Nerkowski (baritone); Michał Sławecki (organ); Choir of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyńskiego; Zespół Instrumentów Dętych Blaszanych/Kazinierz Szymonik
rec. Churches of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Anna, Warsaw, May 2007
Texts and translations not included
DUX 0571 [63:08]


Experience Classicsonline

Organist, composer and teacher, Stanisław Moryto was born at Lack, near Nowy Sacz and went on to study organ and composition at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. He later became Professor of Composition and Rector at that very same Academy – positions which, I believe, he still holds. As a scholar he has edited organ works by Polish composers both ancient and modern; as an organist he has performed in many countries of mainland Europe and made a number of recordings. His importance in the musical life of Poland is evidenced by his long spells of service as President of the Polish Musical Youth Association and as President of the Polish Musical Institute.

These three masses by Moryto all show the composer’s comfortable familiarity with the traditions of sacred music; without settling for mere pastiche each exploits a different aspect of the tradition. The Legnica Mass (Msza legnicka) is written for two soloists (soprano and alto), mixed choir and organ – a disposition reminiscent of many a baroque mass setting. The Missa solemnis is scored for soprano (or mezzo) soloist, mixed choir (soprano, alto and baritone) and a brass sextet (two trumpets, two horns and two trombones) – all employed in a manner which alludes to the sacred music of the Renaissance - indeed the piece is subtitled ‘Hommage ŕ Josquin Desprez’. The Missa brevis pro Defunctis is written for a capella mixed choir, making use, that is, of a musical genre familiar both from sixteenth-century polyphony and from the nineteenth and twentieth-century revival of a capella choral music.

In the Legnica Mass, the organ introduction is striking and assured, as the writing for the instrument is throughout the piece, not least in the Benedicamus Domino which closes the work. The Gloria switches between high and low voices to very good effect and the Agnus Dei has a moving dignity. Barbara Sobstyl-Szczerbaczewicz is an impressive soloist – there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of accomplished Polish sopranos.

In the Missa Solemnis Moryto sets both the six invariable parts of the mass and also four of the ‘variable’ parts, to make a ten part mass: 1. Introit (Repleatur os meum), II. Kyrie, III. Gloria, IV. Graduale (Laudate Dominum omnes gente), V. Allelluia (O quam bonus et suavis est), VI. Credo, VII. Sanctus. VIII. Agnus Dei, IX. Communio (O salutaris Hostia), X. Ite missa est. The whole is a work of considerable power, which breathes an air of genuine spirituality and uses its varied forces to very various emotional and religious effect. Moryto’s work, here and elsewhere on the disc, is at all times respectful of the text, which is always presented clearly and never obfuscated by his music. This is approachable writing of real authority and reverence. Some of the effects – while never being mere ‘effects’ – are particularly striking, as in the use of the Aneta Łukaszewicz’s mezzo voice to the accompaniment of the brass sextet alone in the Credo. Again the Agnus Dei stirs Moryto to some beautiful writing and, taken whole, this is a substantial piece which would, I am sure, reward performance by other singers and instrumentalists too.

The Missa Brevis exudes the spirit of prayer and meditation. In spirit – and to some extent in musical language – it seems to reflect the influences of both Gregorian chant and the music of the Orthodox Church. With only a relatively few changes of tempo and dynamics, and with a pervading simplicity, this Requiem achieves - without ever being confusable with the music of, say, Pärt or Gubaidulina - an almost mystical stillness which enfolds the listener when heard on CD, and would surely do so even more comprehensively in an appropriate church setting.

Moryto’s church music has a distinctive power, distinctive yet grounded in an unfussily eclectic relationship to the tradition. It has that authenticity one associates with the work of an artist being wholly true to his self, unswayed by the demands of fashion or the need to sound up-to-date.

Glyn Pursglove


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