If this well produced disc is anything to go by, Krzysztof Penderecki, the grandfather of Polish music, remains a powerful expressive force, both as composer and conductor. Spanning nearly 60 years of compositional endeavour, the works display Penderecki’s prowess in the field of large-scale religious works. His 2014 Dies Illa, written to commemorate the victims of World War I on the centenary of its outbreak, is a vivid soundscape that takes inspiration from Verdi’s Requiem. The Warsaw forces perform expertly and soloists (soprano Johanna Rusanen, mezzo Agnieszka Rehlis and bass Nikolay Didenko) deliver texts with empathy and commitment.
Two 1997 commissions demonstrate Penderecki’s ability to bring his keen appreciation of history to bear on works for grand occasions. Hymn to St. Daniil for the 850th anniversary of the foundation of Moscow, has a strong flavour of Orthodox chant, culminating with brass and bells. Hymn to St Adalbert for the millennium of the city of Gdan´sk grows into a fervent and exultant outpouring of praise.
Psalms of David from 1958 won the composer several prizes that helped establish his international reputation. A fascinating blend of avant-garde and traditional, they have a likeable freshness and originality that has not dimmed in the intervening years. I look forward to future volumes.