no mistake, this is an exceptional recording of a massive and
very moving work. Just too long to fit on a single CD, it is
issued on two separate discs, each of relatively short playing
time. This is not a drawback, given the quality of the work
and the performance.
by many for using Eastern European (and hence cheap) ensembles
for their orchestral recordings, Naxos
need not be in the least bit concerned about their recordings
from this source. The Polish National Philharmonic have turned
in a number of first class performances for the company over
the years, and this one is no exception.
wrote this Polish Requiem over a number of years in bits
and pieces, each being written to commemorate a specific happening.
In 1993, they were brought together by the composer as this
completed work. For example we have the Lacrimosa written
as a memorial piece for the Gdansk dockworkers and for Lech Walesa. The Agnus Dei was written
as a tribute to the Polish religious figure Cardinal Wyszynski.
Other sections treated in this way were Recordare Jesu pie
- the beatification of Father Maximillian Kolbe for substituting
himself for another prisoner in Auschwitz. The Dies Irae appears as
a fortieth anniversary remembrance of the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis.
this one might assume that the completed work would sound bitty
and dis-jointed, but not at all from this performance. Recorded
previously for both DG and Chandos, this version supersedes
both. Whilst the recording quality is not as good as the Chandos
release, the commitment of the performance makes this newcomer
take the first slot in the pile.
are first-rate, and all sing with the fervour one would expect
from a first recording. That this is not, makes the performance
all the more notable. The choir and orchestra acquit themselves
admirably, and Naxos’s recording quality, whilst not in the
Chandos league, is realistic enough to please all but the most
finicky. To give a guide, this is the typical Naxos recording,
set back from the musicians, giving as far as possible, a realistic
“concert-hall” acoustic. This gives the artists acoustic room
to expand their sound when necessary.
concern I have always had about works like this – where their
gestation time is extended and their inspiration varied - is
that they may appear disjointed and that the seams will show.
Fortunately here Penderecki’s idiom is reasonably consistent
and the various sources are indistinguishable from each other.
choir sings fervently, aided and abetted by the conductor and
more than ably supported by the orchestra, throughout the sixteen
separate sections of the requiem. This double album makes a
welcome addition to the series in progress. The St. Luke Passion
is already available as are the orchestral works including the
violin concertos and some of the symphonies.
many cases this Naxos project comes into direct competition
with the composer’s own recordings, but Naxos need not fear
as their versions is developing very successfully. Strongly