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Dariusz PRZYBYLSKI (b. 1984)
Passio et Mors Domini Nostri Iesu Christi Secundum Ioannem, for 12 voices (2013) [86:58]
et desiderabunt mori, for 12 voices (2008) [5:40]
Miserere, for 12 voices (2008) [9:20]
Solistenensemble Phoenix 16/Timo Kreuser
rec. August and December 2013, St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Academy, Berlin
Texts and translations included
DUX 1119-20 [56:58 + 45:16]

Dariusz Przybylski was born in Konin in Poland in 1984. He studied composition with Marcin Blazewicz in Warsaw from 2003-08 and then with York Höller and Wolfgang Rihm. The main work, which lasts 86-minutes, is Passio et Mors Domini Nostri Iesu Christi Secundum Ioannem which was composed in 2013. It’s written for twelve voices, without any instrumental accompaniment. There are texts, some fragmentary, from a variety of languages – Latin, drawn from the Catholic liturgy, Polish (hymnal) and Protestant Chorale from German texts. Further, the Seven Last Words are sung in seven European languages with Greek added for a text from the New Testament. This gives the work a resonant multilingual element. It’s a work of considerable span and power, but one that is largely slow-moving. There are strong dissonances and the harmonies are often sufficiently ear-catching to nullify any sense of torpor. Occasionally, as in the passage Pontifex ergo interrogavit Iesum, there are urgent vocal striations. The longest movement is the Stabat Mater, where a sense of stasis is movingly conveyed but its complex chord structures allowing for a constant sense of aliveness. Przybylski’s plurality in Passio is deeply rooted in the sublimity of its musical form. Allusions to Polish hymn and to Bach are present though never crudely, and the formal transparency of the writing allows one to appreciate better Przybylski’s achievement. It is certainly a powerful work but one that requires repeated listening. It has none of the surface extroversion of – say – his compatriot Penderecki, for example. Yet it’s not a work of stasis pure and simple as its harmonic progressions never allow for that kind of disengagement.

The two other works on this 2-CD set are both brief. …et desiderabunt mori is much more obviously declamatory, and it’s rather more conventional in that sense than Passio. With its rich ebb and flow, and then a return to the opening statement, Miserere operates on a tautly self-contained unit of time, offering another view of Przybylski’s vocal context.

Timo Kreuser, who contributes well to the booklet notes, directs with huge authority in a most sympathetic acoustic, and the twelve singers of Solistenensemble Phoenix 16 prove true virtuosi throughout.

By the way there's also a Dux CD of this composer's orchestral music.

Jonathan Woolf