Kilar: Requiem Père Kolbe; Choralvorspiel; Orawa; Koscielec 1909; Krzesany

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COMPOSERS: Kilar
LABELS: Jade
WORKS: Requiem Père Kolbe; Choralvorspiel; Orawa; Koscielec 1909; Krzesany
PERFORMER: Polish National PO/Kazimierz Kord, Polish Radio & Television Orchestra of Katowice/Antoni Wit
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 39653 2
Those whose palates remain unjaded by the repetitions of Górecki’s Third Symphony will find something special in this collection of work by a composer little known outside his native Poland: Wojciech Kilar. The manners are sometimes the same – modal tunes and pure triadic harmonies – but the fingerprints are distinctive. The composer’s connection with the Podhale region in the foothills of the Tatra mountains accounts for the extra factor. As several of the items make clear, this is, in a sense, country music.

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The heavy repeated chords and bell-like refrains of the opening piece, Requiem Père Kolbe, are marching in a familiar direction. This is Polish faith minimalism, and rather good of its kind. The second item, the Choralvorspiel, offers more of the same. Things become livelier with Orawa and Krzesany, a pair of tone-poem snapshots of folk life and customs in the Polish highlands. There’s plenty to chew on in these scores which reflect, in their dense harmonies and vigorous impulse, Kilar’s more radical past as a composer in the days of the famous Warsaw Autumn Festival. A moving elegy and a ‘song about love and death’, Koscielec 1909 evokes the kind of spiritual release to be found on the summit of a mountain. Nicholas Williams