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Lukaszewski - Choral Works - International Record Review

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Paweł Lukaszewski (b. 1968) is one of the most striking of the younger generation of composers, particularly of choral music, and has made quite a name for himself.  His father, Wojciech, was a composer, as is his brother Marcin, and he has distinguished himself too as a conductor, working principally with the Warsaw choir Musica Sacra.  It is no surprise, then, that Lukaszewski is a tremendous technician.  He knows exactly how to write for a choir in order to achieve a particular effect, and those effects are very exciting – the rapid repeating patterns that create shimmering, rippling effects in ‘Beatus vir, Sanctus Antonius’ and ‘Beatus vir, Sanctus Martinus’ are excellent examples.

In his extensive insert notes, Paul Wingfield places Lukaszewski within the context of recent Polish music but with reference more to his elders (Penderecki, Kilar, Lutosławski) than his contemporaries, situating him thereby as a kind of heir.  Though no composer of Lukaszewski’s generation would be ignorant of such heritage, it is clear that he has gone his own way, as Wingfield also observes.  Where I disagree with him, however, is in his juxtaposing him with Górecki, Pärt and Tavener, than whose harmonic palette he finds Lukaszewski’s ‘more subtle and immensely more varied’.  The fact of the matter is that Lukaszewski is simply not interested in stripping his musical vocabulary in the way that the three older composers were, at least at one point in their careers, and one might as well find comparisons in the work of Poulenc, Pierre Villette or even Herbert Howells.  While Lukaszewski invents new processes, devises new ways of developing tonality, it might also be said that he shoots his bolt extremely quickly.  Rarely does one have the sense of a work building up over a long stretch; immediate effects are more the point, and wonderful they are (try getting the solo soprano’s phrase from the Ave Maria out of your head!), but this is not what Górecki, say, aims at in his a cappella pieces.  It’s a different kind of working, and Lukaszewski is highly successful at what he chooses to do.

Stephen Layton (who has been working in Poland of late) conjures magical and sophisticated performances from the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, and I imagine that the composer must be in seventh heaven.

Ivan Moody

Lukaszewski - Choral Works
Hyperion Records CDA67639