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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Penderecki
WORKS: Magnificat; Kadisz
PERFORMER: Wojtek Gierlach, Olga Pasichnyk, Alberto Mizrahi, Daniel Olbrychski; Male Vocal Ensemble; Warsaw Boys’ Choir; Warsaw Philharmonic & Philharmonic Male Choirs and Orchestra/Antoni Wit
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572697


Antoni Wit’s impressive Naxos survey of the large-scale works of Krzysztof Penderecki may well one day come to be regarded as definitive, but not until Poland’s leading composer puts down his pen. For now, the series will always be playing catch-up, since Penderecki keeps adding substantial pieces to his output. This latest release is a case in point: 35 years separate the Magnificat, a seminal work in the composer’s stylistic evolution, and Kadisz, one of his most powerful scores of recent years. Together they represent the Catholic and Jewish traditions that have shaped the culture of Poland.

Kadisz, written in 2009 for the 65th anniversary of the liquidation of the Łódz´ ghetto, is not strictly liturgical; it opens with lines written by a teenager from the ghetto, sung with eloquent, shining pathos here by the soprano Olga Pasichnyk. Its four movements encompass various texts and culminate in a melismatic setting of the Kaddish, the Hebrew mourners’ prayer, led here hauntingly by the cantor Alberto Mizrahi. By contrast, the Magnificat, composed in 1974 for Salzburg, is a big and richly complex work that signalled the composer’s shift towards stylistic pluralism. Wit conducts his brilliantly accomplished choral and orchestral forces with magnificent control.


John Allison