Penderecki: Te Deum; Lacrimosa

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COMPOSERS: Penderecki
WORKS: Te Deum; Lacrimosa
PERFORMER: Jadwiga Gadulanka (soprano), Ewa Podles´ (mezzo-soprano), Wieslaw Ochman (tenor), Andrzej Hiolski (baritone); Polish RSO & Chorus, Krakow/Krzysztof Penderecki
Penderecki’s Te Deum, composed in 1979/80 in response to the election of the first Polish Pope, is a notably un-celebratory piece, with a darkly chromatic opening reminiscent of late Liszt, some solemn Wagnerian harmonies, a dramatic central section reverting to the composer’s earlier ‘crowd scene’ manner and a hushed C major ending. The ambivalent message is clarified by the addition to the Latin text of an old Polish hymn asking God to protect the fatherland. The Lacrimosa, written in 1980 for the unveiling of a memorial to those killed in the Gdansk uprising ten years earlier, later became part of another patriotic-religious project, the Polish Requiem. These 1983 performances, under the composer’s baton, are confident and fervent, with a strong if not always rhythmically tight solo team. They’re certainly well worth hearing. But they’re the same performances, recorded jointly by Polish Radio and EMI, which are currently available on EMI Double Forte 5 74852 2, a well-filled album also including the Christmas Symphony and the Magnificat, in equally well refurbished sound. A booklet with a useful note, biographies and texts (the latter without English translations) hardly constitutes a strong reason to prefer this reissue. Anthony Burton