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Zbigniew PREISNER (b. 1955)
Silence, Night and Dreams (2006) [56:46]
(Perchance [1:13]; Silence, Night and Dreams [6:59]; To Speak [9:31]; To Dream [1:24]; To Find [12:14]; To Know [4:38]; To Die [7:04]; Be Faithful, Go [9:00]; To Love [4:39])
Teresa Salgueiro (voice); Tom Cully (treble); Alasdair Malloy (glass harmonica); Josef Skrzek (Hammond organ); Anna Sikorzak-Olek (harp); Konrad Mastylo (piano); Bernard Maseli (vibraphone); Lars Danielson (electric cello, electric bass); Jacek Ostaszewski (recorder); Michal Poltorak (violin); John Paricelli (Mitch Dalton (guitars); Andy Pask (electric bass); unnamed orchestra and chorus
rec. Abbey Road Studios, London; composer’s private studio, Krakow, December 2006 and January 2007. DDD
EMI CLASSICS 3939992 [56:46]

This new extended song cycle by Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner gives the reviewer the unique opportunity simply to listen to the music, digest the texts and draw his own conclusions. There are no program notes or booklet essays, just the texts to the songs and some appropriately mood-setting photographs. Preisner is best known as a film composer, having written scores for The Double Life of Veronique and Three Colors Blue. This music, heavily produced in the recording studio and full of dreamy, almost erotic soundscapes, is reminiscent of the work of Eleni Karaindrou.
With texts taken from modern poets, the Book of Job and the Gospel of Matthew, the composer takes a spiritual journey through some pretty dark territories in what appears to be a lament on the condition of the poor and socially downtrodden. His mournful musical language is beautifully expressed in the voices of Teresa Salgueiro and the boy treble, Tom Cully. The contrast of temperaments between the mature Salgueiro and the innocent Cully is at once striking and comforting, simultaneously conveying both tragedy and hope.
Preisner is well capable of a good tune, and his melodies are rich and sweeping. His choice of obbligato instruments is fascinating, although they do hark back to Andreas Vollenweider’s work from the 1980s. Purists are most likely to think this more cross-over material than “classical” but no matter. The important thing here is that Preisner has created some very beautiful sounds and his text settings - mostly in Latin, some in English - are effective and even at times deeply moving. Indeed the emotions that he expresses are sincere, and the music is neither contrived nor clichéd. One might have wished for a comment or two from the composer in the booklet. On the other hand, his having left it all to the listener makes for a rather exciting bit of discovery and adventure.
Kevin Sutton


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