The sacred music of Polish composer Paweł Łukaszewski has been recorded for Hyperion, and now for the still more commercially oriented Warner Classics. This selection of motets offers a fine survey of his output in the form, and the somewhat grainier sound of the Polski Chór Kameralny under Jan Łukaszewski may be preferable to the purity of English cathedral choirs (your mileage may vary). Łukaszewski states that his music is characterized by "reductionism," which is apparently similar to minimalism in that it is defined by clear-cut structural choices, and by "reformed tonality," as well as by the use of Renaissance and medieval techniques. A simpler way to look at it is that Łukaszewski is at heart a holy minimalist, in the vein of Pärt and Górecki, but one who uses a flexible variety of techniques in the service of a specific and deeply spiritual understanding of the text. Łukaszewski sets texts in Latin, Polish, and German. The musical language is flexible according to the nature of the text being set, with several psalms receiving a very restricted, declamatory language that brings out specific images, while more lyrical treatments, with short melodies in counterpoint, are applied to Marian motets. Especially dark and exemplary of how affecting Łukaszewski's writing can be are the Five Funeral Kurpian Motets (the "Kurpian" referring to the strongly folkloric Kurpie region of Poland); sample one of these. Warner's engineering work at the Salvator Church in Sopot is superb. Strongly recommended for anyone interested in the latest developments in minimalist-oriented Eastern European music, and any choir director might profitably listen to these works.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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