Penderecki: A Polish Requiem
Antoni Wit, Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir & Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra
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I was taking a bit of a chance in buying this; the only Penderecki work I had ever encountered was the intriguing "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima". And trust me, it's not music for the faint-hearted: from the raging "Dies Irae" to the haunting "Agnus Dei", it as elclectic and varied as can be. The music ranges from dense chromaticism (not strictly atonal, but good luck in finding a tonal center) featuring extensive use of tone clusters a la Ligeti (especially in the "Lux aeterna"), to a lush and almost neo-romantic sense of harmony (such as in the "Libera animas" or the "Agnus Dei"). As evidenced in the title, this is not a requiem conceived in memory of a single person, but rather both a lament and a memorial to the horrific sufferings of Poland (Penderecki's native country), from the Holocaust through the Cold War. The overall product is a turbulent, haunting, tortured work of art...nothing short of a modern masterpiece.
This is a wonderful work of music. I enjoyed every second of it. I strongly recommend it to everyone.
Born: February 7, 1944 in Cracow, Poland
Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s