KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI - Canticum Canticorum Salomonis - Antoni Wit (Conductor)

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KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI - Canticum Canticorum Salomonis - Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra - Antoni Wit (Conductor) - 747313248179 - Released: September 2012 - Naxos 8.572481

1} Hymne an den heiligen Adalbert (1997)
2} Song of the Cherubim (1986)
3} Canticum Canticorum Salomonis (1973)
4} Kosmogonia (1970)
5} Strophen (1959)

"The range of Penderecki's music is exemplified by this disc, which presents five works written over a period of nearly 40 years. Hymne an den heiligen Adalbert was composed in 1997 and evokes the martyred eighth-century Bishop of Prague through spare but fervent gestures. More austere, but intense in its focus, is Song of the Cherubim, whilst Canticum Canticorum Salomonis is a richly sensuous exploration of the Song of Songs. Kosmogonia explores a complex sound tapestry. Strophen (1959) was a breakthrough work - spare, intricate and marvellously tensile." {Naxos}

In this, the latest release in the impressive ongoing Naxos series of recordings covering most of Krzysztof Penderecki's output, conductor Antoni Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra bring together some of Penderecki's most diverse and captivating choral works.

These rarely recorded vocal works go a long way in exemplifying Penderecki's steady and methodical development from the sparse and experimental Strophen to the richly textured and neo-romantic Hymne an den heiligen Adalbert, a work of unusually uplifting power for 1997. The harmonically haunting lines of Song of the Cherubim, combining chant-like drones with highly evocative choral writing leaves an odd impression, as if remnants or vestiges of ancient Orthodox ceremonies echoing through the mists of time. Both Kosmogonia and Canticum Canticorum Salomonis are filled with passages of inspired writing, ranging from extremely subdued and mysterious filaments of sound to cataclysmic outbursts of fearsome power. A striking example comes at the 7:08 mark into Kosmogonia when, following a tumultuous build-up of disparate voices clamoring and lamenting, a perfectly formed and powerfully solid full choir chord hits you out of nowhere like a blinding beam of glorious light.

Those of you who prefer strictly orchestral stuff over vocal works need not fear. Krzysztof Penderecki manipulates the human voice just as effectively as orchestral instruments, and in the process achieves some truly mesmerizing effects. It's too bad the booklet doesn't include the printed text of each work. It would be nice to know which words could inspire such powerful music. Superb singing and playing from everyone involved, captured yet again in a first rate recording.

Jean-Yves Duperron - October 2012