Notes and Editorial Reviews
Antoni Wit and his Polish forces are incomparable in this repertoire, and this performance of Utrenja goes straight to the top of the heap. Scored for chorus, soloists, strings, and percussion, and heavily influenced by the (then) avant-garde sounds of electronic instruments, the piece stands with the composer's St. Luke Passion, Polish Requiem, and The Devils of Loudon as an example of his early, radical phase. But that doesn't mean that it's all that difficult by today's standards. In fact, the music is both approachable and, more to the point, entirely apt.
The text of Utrenja comes from the Easter week liturgy and falls into two parts, dealing first with the death of Christ, and
second, with his resurrection. Penderecki's adventurous exploitation of texture and sonority suits the brooding darkness of the first part and the transcendental climaxes of the second extremely well. Wit has at his disposal an excellent team of fearless soloists, and most importantly a superb choir that must be familiar with the idiom of works that have to be seen today as standing squarely in the mainstream of 20th-century Polish music.
Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra (no less) made an impressive recording of Utrenja for RCA, and that disc has been reissued in the Japanese Ormandy Edition, now available on-demand from Arkivmusic.com. Good as that was, it cannot compare in terms of chorus work to this newcomer, and Naxos' sonics, as always from this source, are supremely natural and well-balanced, particularly when compared to what RCA was doing back in the 1970s. If you've been collecting this series then this new release will be self-recommending. Since the length of Utrenja is by no means unduly taxing, this disc makes an excellent place for the curious to start as well.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Utrenia by Krzysztof Penderecki
Iwona Hossa (Soprano),
Piotr Kusiewicz (Tenor),
Piotr Nowacki (Bass),
Agnieszka Rehlis (Mezzo Soprano)
Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus,
Warsaw Boys' Choir,
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Length: 72 Minutes 2 Secs.
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