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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b.1933)
Credo (1997-98) [47.44]
Bozena Harasimowicz-Haas (sop)
Izabella Klosinska (sop)
Ewa Marciniec (mezzo)
Adam Zdunikowski (ten)
Piotr Nowacki (bass)
Warsaw Boys Choir/Krzysztof Kusiel Moroz
Warsaw Philharmonic Choir/Henryk Wojnarowski
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Kazimierz Kord
rec. St Mary Magdalen Cathedral, Wrocław, Poland, 5 Sept 1999. DDD

CD ACCORD Digipack ACD 066 [47.44]


This Mass provides further evidence that Penderecki has softened his musical language over the years.

He has much experience in major works for soli, chorus and orchestra and particularly those with a religious subject. We can trace this trend across the decades: Psalms of David (1958), Stabat Mater (1962), St Luke Passion (1965), Utrenja (1971), Canticum Canticorum (1973), Magnificat (1974), Polish Requiem (1980-84) and The Seven Gates of Jerusalem (1996).

I had been braced, in preparing this review, for the racking experimental effects of the 1960s and 1970s. It is obviously time I got out a bit more and heard the works from the intervening years. Penderecki in the Credo is not quite as populist as Kilar but he is not 'difficult'. Bach is an influence but this is no neo-archaic museum piece. The joyous shadowing of the solo trumpet in the Qui Propter instantly holds the attention. The sound of Orthodox chant is another influential 'voice' especially in the first two-thirds of the piece. The extraordinary subdued dialogue of glowing brass instruments at the start of the Crucifixus is a highlight but that movement stands out in its tender consolatory balm-infused writing anyway; wonderful singing from the soprano (not sure which one) and boys choir. The staccato violence and macabre grit of Crucem Tuam provides contrast amid all the devotion and prayer. This continues somewhat into the Et in spiritum but is dispelled by an evocation of 'triumph in the skies'. The machine-rhythm of tom-toms and jazzy percussion clangour give place in the Confiteor to opera-dramatics. This is a big set piece - extremely inventive with the rhythmic material rather jazzy and the brass 'choir's tone being as black as coal. The piece ends (tr.9 Et Vitam), I think, rather enigmatically, on a questioning note for the four trumpets exiting on a long-held sphinx-like note rather than in blinding choral affirmation.

The work is in nine sections which are often very short; the longest (Et Resurrexit) at 8.00 and the shortest at 4.00 (Et In Spiritum Sanctum).

The sung Latin is given in full in the booklet with parallel English translation - no Polish translation. The words are from the mass but with large infusions from the Pange Lingua, Polish liturgical hymnal, Psalms 117 and 129 and The Apocalypse.

The work was commissioned jointly by the Bach-Akademie Stuttgart and the Oregon Bach Festival. It was written between 1996 and 1998 and is dedicated to the famous conductor Helmuth Rilling who directed the world premiere of the Credo in Oregon.

The luxury presentation including card sleeve and extensive English language notes indicate a disc intended to help the work travel - which it deserves to do. I hope that it will be a frequent fixture in concert halls and churches across the world.

Rob Barnett

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