The superb Naxos collection of new recordings of music by Krzysztof Penderecki conducted by Antoni Wit guarantees enormous interest with every new release. Wit's performances of the symphonies (boxed set 8.505231) were considered “the standard by which all others will be judged” by ClassicsToday.com. This latest release continues the successful template of programming Penderecki’s earlier avant-garde classics together with his more romantic later works.
There's only one other complete performance on disc of the tremendous Magnificat, which was made forty years ago. Antoni Wit's potent reading of the work now provides us with an irresistible new reference recording.
The two works on this recording are separated by 35 years, during which time Penderecki made a decisive break with the post-war European avant-garde. In the Magnificat, chilling instrumental clusters, spectral sounds and impassioned rhetoric unite with tonality and counterpoint to deliver a work of monumental emotional power. Written to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Jewish ghetto in Łódź, Kadisz is among the most distinctive of Penderecki’s later choral works in the stark contrasts between drama and sombre reflection of its individual sections.
Listen to an extract from Magnificat: I. Fuga. Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae
About the Artists
Antoni Wit, one of Poland's most highly regarded conductors, was the managing and artistic director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir from 2002 to 2013. He has made over 200 recordings, including an acclaimed release for Naxos of the Prokofiev piano concertos, which was awarded the Diapason d’Or and Grand Prix du Disque de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque. In 2012 he received a GRAMMY® Award for Penderecki’s Fonogrammi, Horn Concerto and Partita (8.572482). Antoni Wit is a professor at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw.
Wojtek Gierlach (bass) has appeared in numerous opera productions around the world, including performances at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, with Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, the Royal Danish Opera in Copehagen, and the Teatro Nacional São Carlos in Lisbon. He has also sung the title roles in Saul and Elias under Helmuth Rilling with the Warsaw Philharmonic and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at the Berliner Konzerthaus.
Olga Pasichnyk (soprano) has sung a wide range of major operatic roles in most countries of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States. She has twice been awarded the Fryderyk, the highest Polish recording accolade, for the best solo recordings in 1997 and 2004 (Szymanowski and Lutosławski), and was awarded the Andrzej Hiolski prize for the best female opera role of 2004 (Mélisande in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande with the Polish National Opera).
Alberto Mizrahi (tenor) is one of the world’s leading interpreters of Jewish music and Hazzan of Chicago's historic Anshe Emet Synagogue. He has performed with major symphony orchestras throughout the United States, Europe and Israel. His extensive discography numbers over 25 CDs, including six for the Milken Archive label.
Daniel Olbrychski (speaker) appeared in his first film, Ashes, in 1963. He has appeared in a total of 186 films and is also respected as a great theatre actor. He was appointed Commandant des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1990, and the Polish government awarded him the Polonia Restituta in 1998 and Gloria Artis in 2006. He is also a recipient of the Pushkin Medal from the Russian government.
The Warsaw Philharmonic Choir boasts a repertoire that includes more than 150 choral works, ranging from the Middle Ages to contemporary music. The choir's recording of the only complete version of Moniuszko’s Seven Masses won the Polish Fryderyk and French Orphée d’Or awards in 2009.
Founded in 1901, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra now has a complement of 110 players. The orchestra's recordings have won many prestigious awards, including a GRAMMY® in 2012 and six other GRAMMY® nominations.
The Warsaw Boys’ and Men’s Choir gives approximately thirty concerts a year in Poland and abroad, with a broad repertoire ranging from the medieval period to contemporary works. The choir has performed with conductors such as Antoni Wit, Kazimierz Kord, Grzegorz Nowak, Jacek Kaspszyk, Yoav Talmi, Jerzy Semkow and Philippe Herreweghe; also with Krzysztof Penderecki, whose Passion, Matins and Credo remain a part of the choir’s repertoire.
Other Penderecki recordings conducted by Antoni Wit
“Antoni Wit’s Penderecki series for Naxos has been uniformly excellent, and this latest installment is no exception. …Top Recommendation.”
“This disc is an essential addition to any Penderecki collection and is an important listening experience to get to know more about one of this past century’s most important composers. The Warsaw Philharmonic under conductor Antoni Wit gives strong, dedicated performances throughout.”
– Audiophile Audition ★★★★★
“The recording quality on this disc is first class… All the soloists are excellent, and the Warsaw National Philharmonic under Wit provides solid support…This CD is a must if you are collecting the series…”
“…Antoni Wit…draws committed and convincing singing and playing from all concerned, to make the best of this substantial work. As such, and at Naxos’s bargain price, this release is strongly recommended.”
– MusicWeb International
“Antoni Wit’s ongoing cycle of Penderecki orchestral works is yet another of those truly outstanding Naxos projects that’s unlikely to get the attention it deserves. The music isn’t easy, or popular, but Wit is a marvellous conductor in this repertoire, and his unfailingly intense and idiomatic performances look to become the standard by which all others will be judged. This new release just may be the best so far…A splendid release in every way!”
“Penderecki should thank whatever gods there be that Antoni Wit has decided to champion his work. I’ve always considered Wit one of the finest of contemporary conductors, who should have had a much bigger career than many other better-known names. Under his direction, the Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra performs impeccably and with passion.”
“The superb new Naxos survey of [Penderecki's] immensely conceived orchestral music is an opportunity to come to grips with this important composer, as his style evolved from enfant terrible to mature symphonist.”
“Antoni Wit and his Polish forces are incomparable in this repertoire, and this performance of Utrenja goes straight to the top of the heap.”