Penderecki: Credo

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COMPOSERS: Penderecki
LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Credo
PERFORMER: Juliane Banse (soprano), Marietta Simpson, Milagro Vargas (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Randle (tenor), Thomas Quasthoff (bass); Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra & Choir/Helmuth Rilling
It could be said that Krzysztof Penderecki had a good Cold War. In 1960, his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima caught the pacifistic spirit of the times, and the outreach of its novel style stretched as far as the Beatles. Then, in the Eighties, blown by the winds of artistic change, he simplified his manner for the people’s music of the Polish Requiem.


With Credo, first performed by the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra and Choir in July 1998, he returns to the Mass. Lovers of choral music will doubtless welcome this release, though anyone expecting a piece in which the forward momentum derives from the time-honoured practice of counterpoint will be disappointed. Instead, there are what an impressionistic painter might have called ‘effects of movement’. Whether slow or fast, the sense of the music’s going somewhere is not inwardly driven, but a kind of artful contrivance. Perhaps this is postmodern. It is not without some monumental moments, chiefly those when the ghost of Shostakovich stalks upstage. Try the horn writing that introduces a setting of the interpolated Roman hymn ‘Crux fidelis’, prefaced in turn by music that sounds like an interpolation from the Russian composer’s mighty Tenth Symphony. Nicholas Williams