Jan Lukaszewski

Maciej Malecki: Cicha Noc

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Polish composer Maciej Malecki was for many years a mainstay in Poland's radio and television industry; however, he decided to drop out of that lucrative end of the business in 1993 in order to apply himself to serious composition. The decision has worked out well for Malecki, as he has been elected to the presidency of the Polish Composers Union three times and has garnered numerous distinctions for his work as composer of concert music. Little of Malecki's work has been heard in the West, and judging from his Carus Verlag disc Cicha Noc (Stille Nacht), his music is distinctively Polish in a way that might not travel so well. Nevertheless, Malecki is at least a skillful and dedicated artisan, and this Christmas concert, entirely in the Polish language, is pleasant without being strongly compelling, nor for that matter especially interesting. In this case, that's not a bad thing as sometimes one wants Christmas music to function in the background without calling attention it itself, and Cicha Noc definitely works for that. The various movements of Malecki's concert are based on Polish traditional carols that have the benefit of being unfamiliar to non-Poles yet are imbued with a suitably Christmas-y sound; like many German carols, they are rather reserved in character and generally do not get involved in the high, happy spirits that typify most English and American carols. A sense of distance is never a bad thing in Christmas carols, and Polski Chór Kameralny and Polska Filharmonia Kameralna under Jan Lukaszewski wisely choose to perform this in the very live ambience of the Resurrection of the Lord Church in Gdansk. If you're Polish, speak the language, or have some grounding in the Christmas traditions of Poland, then Carus Verlag's disc Cicha Noc will speak to you most directly; however, even if you are in possession of none of these attributes, one still may be able to make some use of it as part of the holiday as it is definitely a change from the usual routine.