Paweł ŁUKASZEWSKI (b.1968)
Musica Sacra 3: Carols and Motets
Angelus Domini for mixed choir (1992) [2:42]
Three Carols for mixed choir (1993) [8:53]
Three Carols for mixed choir (1992-1999) [8:07]
Four Carols for female choir (1998, arr.) 6:32]
Three Carols for mixed choir (words: Bożena Fabiani) (2001) [7:32]
Two Christmas Motets for a cappella female choir (2000) [4:55]
Five Carols for a cappella female choir (2001, arr.) [7:58]
Modlitwa do Matki Boskiej Gromnicznej. Candlemass Prayer for a cappella mixed choir (words: Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna) (1988) [4:41]
Polish Chamber Choir and Schola Cantorum Gedanensis/Jan Łukaszewski.
rec. Chamber Hall, Polish Baltic Philharmonic, Gdańsk, Poland, November 2002.
world première recordings included
DUX 0440 [49:57]
Since the 1990s we seem to have been witnesses to a new golden age of sacred music. This was heralded by the success Hyperion’s mid-1980s disc of music by the 11th century Hildegard of Bingen A Feather on the Breath of God. This surprise hit was followed by the emergence of people like Pärt, Gorecki, John Taverner and James McMillan. To that illustrious list can be added the name of the composer of these marvellous works, Paweł Łukaszewski. What is particularly interesting is that this kind of music has an appeal beyond the religious. It taps into a general need for an escape into a more spiritual world from the workaday pressures that modern society places upon us all. Unaccompanied singing is especially appealing with its almost unearthly and ethereal nature. The present disc is a wonderfully powerful example of this sound-world and the fact that I cannot understand the Polish words doesn’t detract from my enjoyment. Rather it enables me to concentrate on the magic created by the music and the voices as instruments. That said, it would have been a good thing to have had translations in the booklet - Dux please note.
Apart from three tracks which feature texts everything is set to Polish texts, several of them dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. What unites them, whether motet or carol, is Łukaszewski’s amazing ability to inject new life into the words, even when we know them well as is the case with Cicha noc that we know as Silent Night. The two choirs sing in the most breathtakingly beautiful way. There is one bass voice that has a register that is often found in Eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine. This voice that acts almost as a drone creating an otherworldly atmosphere. I was not at all surprised to read in the booklet that Łukaszewski has had success in so many countries around the world from the USA, Canada and Argentina to Japan, South Korea and China. This shows the popularity of this kind of music among peoples irrespective of their religious point of view. This is a disc in which to revel with every track exerting a wonderfully calming effect. It would be the perfect tonic to help unwind after a taxing day at work with eyes closed and sitting in a comfy chair.
I urge everyone who has yet to discover this ‘genre’ of music to use this opportunity to do so. I can assure them of a magically thrilling experience.
Steve Arloff 

A wonderfully powerful example of this sound-world. 

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