Preisner: Requiem for my Friend

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COMPOSERS: Preisner
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Requiem for my Friend
PERFORMER: Elzbieta Towarnicka (soprano); Warsaw Chamber Choir, Sinfonia Varsovia/Jacek Kaspszyk
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-24146-2
The last two decades have seen several settings of the traditional Requiem, despite the fact that Latin is no longer the living language of Roman Catholic worship. Doubtless, however, its magic aura lingers on, an important point for music of this kind, most of which, should it make it to disc, is intended for consumption in the home rather than in basilica or concert hall.

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Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem for my Friend is clearly meant to leap this great divide. After all, why go to hear it in Warsaw Cathedral and Cracow’s Emaus Church when they’re there on the recording? Billed as Poland’s leading composer of film music, Preisner wrote this piece in memory of the film writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz, as the booklet note puts it ambiguously, ‘specially for recording and live performance’. In fact, it sounds as if written for the CDplayer all the way. There’s an attractive ambience built into the Górecki-Pärt-like Requiem settings of the first half. In the second, Life, pop-style saxophone, panpipe and piano solos precede settings from Ecclesiastes and Revelation. Often with recent requiems it’s seemed fairer to let the dead lie in peace, but this one Ienjoyed. Nicholas Williams