Lukaszewski - Choral Works - Opera News, New York, USA



The young Polish composer Pawel Lukaszewski (b. 1968) has produced an impressive body of sacred choral music, his primary focus, over the past sixteen years. Lukaszewski could be spoken of as emerging from the neo-medieval, neo-tonal spiritual tradition of Henryk Górecki, Arvo Pärt, and John Tavener, but his music is less static, both rhythmically and harmonically, and seemingly more focused on bringing the texts to vibrant life than the older generation working this vein. Lukaszewski often weaves a spell of tranquility, but he achieves this through an evolving succession of euphonious (if often dense) choral sonorities, not through hypnotic cycling and repetition. Considerable drama emerges via sudden contrasts in dynamics or rhythm. The composer even deploys a smattering of modernist effects, such as whispering, speaking and sliding, which contribute nicely to the expressive content of some of the pieces. There's enough variety from track to track to make you want to keep listening.

Among the standout pieces are "Sanctus Martinus," from Lukaszewski's seven-section Beautus Vir, which manages a transformational journey covering several different emotional reactions to the death of a saint in just three minutes. Attractive in an entirely different way is the energized and rhythmically quirky "O Sapientia," the first of a set of seven Advent Antiphons. The "O Adonai" movement from the same set starts with a yearning, arching melody, then breaks out unexpectedly into a lunging gallop. "O Clavis David" has similarly unpredictable structural shifts, plus some particularly bold harmonic progressions, while the skillful "O Rex gentium" is unsettled, probing and contrapuntal. The seven-minute Psalm 102 (2002?03) is a lush, melodic and fully mature work, vibrant with chromatic harmony and pulsing with reverence.

The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, sounds beautifully blended and perfectly in tune. Recorded sound is cushiony but full of vitality at climaxes. In short, there are lots of beautiful sounds here, in both the compositions and the performances.



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