Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner wrote the scores for the arthouse hits of filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski, among other European directors, and if you enjoyed those films you'll take naturally to the language of this nine-part choral work -- although independent of cinematic inspiration and employing sacred texts, it has the episodic and atmospheric quality of film music. The texts come from the Book of Job and the Gospel of St. Matthew, in Latin and English, bracketed by contemporary spiritual texts by Polish writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz and by Preisner himself. They are set with music for soloists, chorus, and orchestra that doesn't quite live up to the monumentality it presumes for itself (sample the ponderous martial music that sets the words "don't be afraid" in "Be Faithful, Go," track 8), but the unusual sonorities of Preisner's music are a strong point: the exceptionally luminous integration of electric cello, electric bass, and Hammond organ with older instruments that created a wash of sound -- glass harmonica, harp, and vibraphone. A recorder is used effectively to add wind textures the sound. These shimmering sounds are topped off by the unique instrument of Portugese pop vocalist Teresa Salgueiro, whose vibrato-less singing has something of a boy-soprano quality that's nicely set off against the voice of actual boy soprano Tom Cully. Poland's little-known Aukso Orchestra under Marek Mós brings the needed transparency to Preisner's orchestral textures, and the Camerata Silesia renders the English texts both smoothly and intelligibly. Kieslowski's films exert an almost hypnotic effect on a great many listeners, and those listeners will make up a ready market for this disc.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by James Manheim