Katowice Radio Symphony Orchestra / Zbigniew Preisner / Zdzislaw Szostak

Dekalog [Original Film Soundtrack]

(CD - EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution #1007012)

Review by

Polish film music, at its best, can be a transcendent experience, encompassing folk idioms, café-concert music, and their special take on jazz and the legacy of Chopin, Poland's postwar brand of avant-garde music, their distinct understanding of negative space, and many other appealing elements. Composer Zbigniew Preisner is one of the most celebrated figures in Poland's film music scene and has taken prestigious awards on an international scope, winning César Awards in France and Golden Globes in the U.S. Although Preisner's first film scoring job was in 1981, it was through his eighth film collaboration with director Krzysztof Kieslowski that made Preisner's name, including such iconic titles as The Double Life of Veronique (1991) and Blue (1993). The TV miniseries Dekalog (1989-1990) was Preisner's first collaboration with Kieslowski, an anthology series of stories based on one of the 10 commandments in the Holy Bible, though sometimes including allusions to two or three within one episode. Dekalog proved enormously popular in Poland and was released to repertory theaters abroad about a decade after it initially aired; it was released in a DVD edition in 2000.

This is the original soundtrack CD released on Pomaton and distributed by EMI Music Poland; despite its handsome design, it represents a challenge for users outside of Poland, as every word of explanatory notes within are in Polish. Concerns outside of Poland, including the French Amplitude and English Silva Screen labels, have issued versions of Dekalog -- usually titled "The Decalogue" in English -- but despite the popularity of Preisner soundtracks such as Blue, none of these export versions have stayed in the catalog very long. While an overall hushed, somber mood and properties of restraint do marry the 25 tracks on this album into a loosely coherent whole, Preisner was still looking for his voice in Dekalog and seems a little too easily satisfied with overly simple thematic ideas, arriving at typical more often than transcendent. Nevertheless, the listener with an especial interest in Preisner will doubtless want all of the scores he did with Kieslowski, and though the more easily accessible export editions of Dekalog have come and gone, this original Polish release of the soundtrack music has remained in print all along and should well satisfy the curiosity of those who are willing to seek it out.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
Dekalog, television series score
1 2:14
2 3:43
3 1:20
4 4:01
5 2:29
6 2:38
7 2:17
8 2:29
9 1:43
10 1:40
11 1:12
12 1:27
13 1:49
14 1:37
15 0:50
16 3:07
17 2:43
18 1:54
19 1:09
20 3:36
21 1:52
22 2:17
23 1:04
24 1:07
25 2:09
blue highlight denotes track pick