The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Holst Singers – Paweł Łukaszewski 

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I've been made aware of a couple of concerts that the Holst Singers are giving in London later this year, which well deserve attention. Having recently begun a partnership with Paweł Łukaszewski the choir is including works by the 37-year-old Polish composer in each concert. For anyone that knows me, the words 'young Polish composer' are enough to grab my notice from the start. The first, on 28 January, includes the world premiere of the organ version of his Mass for choir and wind instruments; and the second, on 8 April, brings Łukaszewski's 7 Magnificat Antiphons to its London premiere.

I came across Łukaszewski's music in Warsaw in 2004 (my thoughts on his Second String Quartet are towards the bottom of the page). He's not to be confused with his father Wojciech (another composer), or his younger brother Marcin (a pianist). All three have strong reputations in Poland, although it is only Paweł who is mentioned in Adrian Thomas's Polish Music Since Szymanowski, where he is described as "best known for his resolutely anti-modernist sacred choral music". The Holst Singers' musical director Stephen Layton says that on first hearing Łukaszewski's music he was "struck by the spiritual intensity of Paweł's compositions - reminiscent of composers such as Górecki and Pärt - but also by the harmonic sophistication and variety of colour in his music."

At the risk of establishing a cliché that may haunt the composer in years to come, Łukaszewski is from that peculiarly Eastern European school of recent sacred music that is led by Pärt and Górecki, but also includes Kancheli, Gubaidulina, and some works by other Poles including Penderecki and Kilar. If you enjoy any of these composers, you are likely to get something from the Holst Singers' concerts, not least because of the sympathetic programming that includes pieces by Jonathans Harvey and Dove, James MacMillan, Pärt and Górecki themselves, and earlier music by Holst and Peter Warlock. All very fine stuff indeed, and I recommend you get yourself down there. Temple Church is perhaps not the easiest of London's venues to find, but directions may be found here.

Details: £12 (£8 conc.) | South Bank Centre Box Office | 08701 633833

Concert 1 | 28 January 2006 | 7.30pm | Temple Church

Łukazsewski: Mass for choir and wind instruments (organ version)
Macmillan: Christus Vincit
Harvey: The Angels
Jonathan Dove: The Three Kings
Peter Warlock: The Full Heart
Górecki: Totus Tuus

Concert 2 | 8 April 2006 | 7.30pm | Temple Church

Łukaszewski: 7 Magnificat Antiphons
Arvo Pärt: Magnificat
Marin Borkowski: Libera Me
Gustav Holst: The Evening Watch

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