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Te Deum
; Hymne an den heiligen Daniel; Polymorphia; Chaconne (Polish Requiem)

Izabela Klosinska - soprano
Agnieszka Rehlis – mezzo-soprano
Adam Zduniowski - tenor
Piotr Nowacki - bass

Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra/Antoni Wit

Naxos 8.557980 [September 2005, 67 mins]

The selection of Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II was the inspiration for Penderecki’s Te Deum, that long Latin hymn which has come to be synonymous with thanksgiving on occasions of joy and celebrations.  

Penderecki digs deeper into the text and comes up with a version that is magisterial but sombre – reference to the noble army of martyrs of the church is accorded special emphasis and reverence – perhaps reflecting the still uncertain times for Christianity in the communist dominated Poland of the 1970s. 

Twenty years later horizons had lightened, and Hymne an den heiligen Daniel is a much brighter work.   It is sung in Church Slavonic, paying tribute to the 14th century origin of this popular Russian Orthodox Saint, who was also the youngest son of the Alexander Nevsky.

Penderecki's idiom in these choral works is mostly conservative. Polymorphia for 48 strings (1961) represents the composer's avant-garde period with an extraordinary range of glissando sound. The CD is rounded out with the very gentle Chaconne which Penderecki added to his Polish Requiem following the death of John Paull II, thus bringing the music on this CD full circle.I ended up feeling fairly neutral about the performances. Nothing outstanding, to my ears, but there was no point on which I would specifically criticize.

Clearly Polish soloists, choir and orchestra are desirable for these works, and Naxos have chosen wisely. People who are collecting the Naxos Penderecki series will want to have it. Full texts and translations are printed in the leaflet.
Serena Fenwick