We’re celebrating the Easter holiday tonight, as we have been for the past few weeks. We’ll start tonight’s show with a rather interesting piece, a Passion work by the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Penderecki is well known for the many avant garde works that he wrote during the ’60s and ’70s, although he pointedly turned away from the avant garde in the late ’70s. What many folks might not realize about Penderecki is that he is a devoted Catholic, a stance that might not have been that popular with Polish authorities prior to the disintegration of communism. Many of his works revolve around religious themes. St. Luke’s Passion, considered his first “major” work, is a work for chorus and orchestra written and premiered in 1966 by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. The work contains text from the Gospel of Luke as well as other sources such as the Stabat Mater. Despite the Passion’s almost total atonality (it definitely is not for the faint of heart) and use of avant-garde musical techniques (at one point, the choir whispers and hisses), the work was quite successful, and the piece has been performed and recorded on a number of occasions.
Tonight’s recording is from 2003, and features Izabella Kłosińska, soprano, Romuald Tesarowicz, bass, Krzysztof Kolberger. Antoni Wit directs the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir and the Warsaw Boys’ Choir.
Our next work is a passion work by the Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina. She was commissioned by the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart project to write a piece for the Passion 2000 project in commemoration of Johann Sebastian Bach. The result was this wonderful piece of music, the Johannes-Passion. It is sung in Russian, and features some lovely singing, especially on the part of the bass Genady Bezznubenkov. We are going to hear the 2006 world premiere recording, with Bezznubenkov joined by Natalia Korneva, Viktor Lutsiuk, and Fedor Mozhaev. Valery Gergiev leads the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra & Chorus.