Penderecki, Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra And Chorus & Chorus - Polish Requiem

Friday 1st October 1993
Penderecki, Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra And Chorus & Chorus - Polish Requiem

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Polskie Nagrania 021

Reviewed by John Irvine

Poland's history has been a history of suffering, suffering which has continued unabated since in the emergence of the Polish people in the middle ages. This has included the suffering of war, famine, plague, invasion, occupation and civil war. It is particularly to the suffering of modern martyrs that Penderecki wishes to speak. 'Polish Requiem' follows the general layout of a requiem mass, although its centrepoint is the Polish hymn "Holy God, Mighty God". This hymn symbolically holds both the Requiem and the Polish people together. Sections of the Requiem were written between 1980 and 1984 for various reasons: "Agnus Dei" was written for the funeral of a close friend and leading statesman and churchman, Cardinal Wyszynski, seen by many as the last hope for Polish unity in the run up to the Solidarity/government clash. "Lacrimosa" was written for Solidarity in remembrance of the strikers killed by the army in the 1970s. "Recordare" was dedicated to Father Kolbe, the Polish priest who gave himself up to die in place of another prisoner at Auschwitz. The complete work expresses the fears of the Polish people during the mid 1980s. As such it is best heard played and sung by Poles, as in this recording which, despite some reservations over the sound quality, easily remains the most passionate recording of the 'Requiem'. The raw emotion and sorrow expressed is too universal to remain cnfined to Poland alone however: this could be as much a Requiem for Bosnia or for Ireland. The world has never suffered as it does now and Penderecki's music speaks directly to this suffering. This is music of crucifixion. And yet it ends on a note of hope: "Deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell and let them pass from death to life." There is hope in the midst of suffering after all. Powerful, moving and meaningful music from a living genius.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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