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Paweł Łukaszewski (b. 1968)
Concerto for Organ and String Orchestra (1996) [10:23] *
O Adonai (1995) [9:24] **
Recordationes de Christo moriendo (1996) [9:47] ***
Two Motets for Mixed Choir (1995): Memento mei, Domine [4:22]; Crucem tuam adoramus, Domine [3:54] ****
Missa pro Patria (1997) [24:49] *****
Waclaw Golonk (organ)
Orkiestra Barokova Concerto Avenna/Abdrzej Mysiński;

** Chór Akademii Teologii Katolickiej w Warszawie/Kazimierz Symonik;
*** Anna Lubánska (mezzo), Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin/Maciej Żółtowski; **** Chór Akademii Teologii Katolickiej w Warszawie/Kazimierz Symonik;
***** Joanna Kozłowska (soprano), Agnieszka Zwierko-Wiercioch (mezzo), Chór Akademii Teologii Katolickiej w Warszawie, Orkiestra Koncertowa Woska Polskiego im. St. Moniuszki/Grzegorz Mielimąka.

rec. * 1996, Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Legnica; ** 1997, Church of St. Benona, Warsaw; *** 1996, Academy of Music, Warsaw; **** 1996, Polish Army’s Field Cathedral, Warsaw; ***** 1998, Lutosławski Memorial Concert Studio, Warsaw
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The music of Paweł Łukaszewski does not seem to have been reviewed previously on the pages of MusicWeb International, so a little background may not be out of place. Son of the composer Wojciech Łukaszewski, Paweł Łukaszewski studied cello (with Andrzej Wróbel) and composition (with Marian Borkowski) at the Frédéric Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, from 1987-1995. He studied choral conducting with Ryszard Zimak at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz in 1994-95. Although he has written a small number of orchestral works and at least two string quartets, by far the greater part of Łukaszewski’s body of work is made up of sacred music for choir. Many of his choral compositions have won prizes, in Poland and elsewhere, and many performed outside Poland; quite a number of them having been recorded, notably on Dux and on Acte Préalable.

All the works on this CD belong to the mid-1990s, to the composer’s late twenties.

The Concerto for Organ and String Orchestra, which opens the CD, adheres to the classical model, with the two outer movements marked moderato and the central movement marked adagio.Like most of Łukaszewski’s music, the language is largely tonal, though with the occasional unexpected harmony. A busy first movement is succeeded by a restful second, in which strings and organ are blended with particular skill. The final movement contains some impressive writing for the organ, in a relatively conventional idiom.

O Adonai is part of an ongoing cycle, to be entitled Seven Antiphons for the Advent. Richly harmonised and largely unhurried, though never losing forward momentum, it would serve liturgical purposes very well. In the Two Motets for mixed choir the writing for the higher voices, especially in the second (Crucem tuam adoramus, Deum) is particularly fine. All three of these pieces for mixed choir are very competent music in the modern Catholic tradition; eminently listenable and with moments of beauty; perhaps the work of a composer on his way towards finding a fully individual style, rather than one who has got there already. Recordationes de Christo moriendo which, despite its Latin title, sets a Polish text in thirteen quatrains, is a more striking piece. With a fine contribution by the mezzo soloist, Anna Lubánska, it is conceived as a kind of arch which grows in musical complexity before returning to the simpler idioms with which it began. The relationship between the solo voice and the chamber orchestra is subtly handled and the whole has a hieratic beauty of some power.

The most substantial work here, the Missa pro Patria, sets the ordinary of the mass, plus an Introit - setting a text taken from Pope John Paul II’s homily on the occasion of his first pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 - an Offertorium - an anonymous prayer in Polish), the Communio - a prayer from Renaissance Poland - and a Cantus Finalis. The Mass was written in 1997, commissioned for the eightieth anniversary of Polish independence and is organised in five sections: Ritus initiales, Liturgia verba, Liturgia Eucharistica, Ritus communiones and Ritus conclusionis. The choral writing is sophisticated, especially effective in quieter passages, the Agnus Dei is beautifully set for the mezzo soloist and there are some impressive percussive passages – all in the service of a declamatory celebration of faith and nation. I wasn’t entirely convinced by it all, musically speaking, some of the parts being decidedly better than the whole. This is my first exposure to Łukaszewski’s music and I am inclined to reserve judgement. There was enough here that I found intriguing and beautiful as to ensure that I shall look out for his name in future; but there were also passages that were relatively banal.

Texts in Latin and Polish are provided, but no English translations. There are booklet notes in Polish, English and German.

Glyn Pursglove

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