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Pawel Łukaszewski and his fervent sacred symphonies

Paul Lukaszewski (°1968) : Symphony No. 3 “of the Angels”, for soprano, mixed choir and orchestra. Symphony No. 6 “Song of Eternal Life”, for choir and orchestra. Anna Mikolajczyk-Niewiedzial, soprano; Chorus and Orchestra of the Opera and the Philharmonic of Podlasie, direction Miroslaw Jacek Blaszczyk. 2021. Notice in Polish and English. 49.30. Dux 1762.

Son and brother of a composer, the Polish Pawel Łukaszewski, born in Czestochowa (°1968), is also a conductor, artistic director of festivals and teacher. He graduated from the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, where he studied cello and composition. Considered a successor to Henryk Górecki or John Tavener, his repertoire is essentially based on religious themes, in a neoclassical tradition. The Dux label has included several Łukaszewski albums in its catalogue, such as his Beatus Virhis Veni Creatorhis Stabat mater, carols and motets, or its Symphony No. 2but also a series of small secular pieces.

Created in Riga in 2012, the Symphony No. 3, in two movements with an overall duration of just over twenty-five minutes, uses texts inscribed in the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church or deriving from apocryphal writings, as explained in the notice by Renata Borowiecka whose we inspire each other. The angels, their hierarchy and their functions are described on the basis of the Ethiopian Book of Enoch (great-grandfather of Noah) and according to the dogmas established by the Fourth Lateran Council, which was held in 1215 on the initiative of Pope Innocent III. The first part, Visio Enochi, evokes the journey made by the patriarch towards Paradise, under the guidance of the Archangel Michael, until the vision of the Eternal. Mysterious and intimate, the music unfolds in a hypnotic, even majestically ecstatic atmosphere, with a choir that evolves in a melodic flow, timbres raised by percussion effects such as metal balls, the harp or the celesta, and a will global contemplative. The second movement, Existing Angeli, welcomes the soprano in the form of a prayer to the angels, ideal intermediaries to access God. The musical narration is both peaceful and vehement, enveloped in a concentration that is destined to discover another reality, extrahuman, which finds its climax in a Alleluia, before returning to silence. It’s ethereal and plastically beautiful, with choruses full of light; this Vision with fervent accents will undoubtedly seduce lovers of musical mysticism. The interpretation is of high quality, the choirs and the soprano, Anna Mikolajczyk-Niewiedzial, a moving voice, are impregnated with the esoteric part that emerges from this score with its affirmed spiritual character.

The Symphony No. 6 of 2020, a commission from the European Art Center of Byalystok – a city near the Belarusian and Lithuanian borders – is an absolute first, its public premiere having not yet taken place at the time this recording was made. This Song of Eternal Life is also based on Christian symbolism. Lasting twenty-three minutes, it is made up of three movements, characteristic of the first and third, which both bear the title Chronos being to exist for a handful of tens of seconds and to make one think of chaos. The central movement Kairosrefers to the development of time, considered here as a slow gradation before an immense progression which does not stop growing thanks to the effects of brass instruments and bells which install an emphatic climate in a desire for dynamic concentration, carrying a religious message. , which rejects evil power (Vade Retro Satana). The choirs will then intervene in successive layers which open up the prospect of a praise which also leads to a Alleluia.

The effect is grandiose and invites a sacred communion throughout the audition. Here again, the spiritual dimension prevails: as in the Symphony No. 3, the composer uses the emotional strings that he handles with dexterity so that his artistic creation captivates and captivates. In this respect, it is very successful. Under the direction of Miroslaw Jacek Blaszczyk who was, in Katowice, the pupil of the excellent Polish conductor Karol Stryja, the choirs and the orchestra of the Opera and the Philharmonic of Podlasie, a region in the north of Poland which adjoins Belarus, fully play the game of investment and faith that these two partitions of religious scope require.

Sound: 9 Record: 9 Repertoire: 8 Interpretation: 9

John Lacroix

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