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Gesang am Brunnen — oratorio for soprano, tenor,
baritone, mixed choir and chamber orchestra (c.1993)
Bozena Harasimowicz (soprano)
Jacek Laszczkowski (tenor)
Janusz Borowicz (baritone)
Chór Polskiego Radia w Krakowie
Orkiestra Kameralna Polskiego Radia w Krakowie/José Maria Floréncio
rec. live, 17 August 1996, Klosterkirche Loccum, Germany
Texts, but not translated into English
ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0240 [54:51]
Juliusz Luciuk was born in Krakow in 1927. In his oratorio Gesang
am Brunnen – ‘Singing by the Spring’, in English - he took
poems by fourteen writers from a wide variety of religious backgrounds
to give an 'ecumenical coming-together of people.'
The desire to create a uniform continuum between these Lutheran,
Catholic, Jewish and Buddhist writers’ works, despite the variety
of subject matter, creates a lack of polar contrast within the
work itself. It emerges as a whole. Whether that stimulates
a genuine sense of coherence is something that the individual
listener must decide, but it did for me.
The oratorio lasts some 55 minutes and is written for soprano,
tenor, baritone, mixed choir and chamber orchestra. Many of
the writers will be rather obscure, especially for Anglophones.
Perhaps the most internationally well-known recent writers are
Pablo Neruda (the Chilean poet who took his surname from the
Czech writer Jan Neruda), and the Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld.
Our old friend The Book of Genesis appears, as does Paul of
Tarsus. Martin Luther, too, is represented.
The oratorio is immediately attractive and approachable. Luciuk
has gone through several stylistic modes since the 1950s but
here he has moved away from stylisation and extremes, toward
a kind of mainstream. This has resulted in writing that is supportive
but not supine, with enough going on instrumentally to keep
things both clear and sympathetically supportive of the texts.
The mood is generally restrained. I wouldn't want to
suggest any kind of similarity, but there were even brief moments
that put me in mind of an unlush Canteloube, if such a thing
can be imagined. At other points Herbert Howells came to mind.
This spirit even embraces post-late Romanticism, if I can call
it that, though it never embraces the kind of writing that Pärt
and Gorecki and their followers have fashioned in religious
Much here is warm and gentle, and not anguished. There is no
mid-period Penderecki ethos. But there is attractive string
colour, good opportunities for the three solo singers (all good),
some consoling moments - there is an especially beguiling duet
- and chances for vocal melismas tinged with ecstasy. The culminatory
trio is buoyed by string wash and little bubbly brass.
This is a live performance, given in 1996, and one greeted with
generous applause. It offers an interesting slant on yet another
strand of contemporary Polish religious music.