Kilar: Krzesany; Angelus; Exodus; Victoria

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Kilar
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Krzesany; Angelus; Exodus; Victoria
PERFORMER: Hasmik Papian (soprano); Cracow Philharmonic Chorus, Polish National RSO/Antoni Wit
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554788
Born in 1932, Wojciech Kilar belongs to the same generation of Polish composers as Górecki and Penderecki. Like them, he flirted with the techniques of the Western European avant-garde during the artistic thaw in Poland the Sixties, when the Warsaw Autumn Festival had its radical heyday, and like them, too (but unlike the far more significant Lutoslawski), he appears to have opted quickly for a less demanding musical idiom, while also making a name for himself as a film-score composer.

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Little of his music has been heard in the West, but if the four concert pieces here – the ‘symphonic’ poem Krzesany from 1974, and the three choral works from the following decade – are an accurate indication of Kilar’s later style, then we have not missed very much. Krzesany has an utterly conventional outline, and formulaic melodic shapes, which are given a modernist veneer by the dense chromatic harmony that doggedly underpins them. In the choral pieces the range of effects is wide – from syllabic chanting to melodic lines that strive for a Górecki-like spirituality, though bombast is never far away. Unremarkable music, then, unremarkably performed.

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Andrew Clements