Prelude, Psalm and Meditation (Krzysztof Baculewski)
This work might bring to mind the music of Olivier Messiaen, if only by its use of the organ and its clearly meditative aspect. Krzysztof Baculewski studied with Messiaen, although he does not acknowledge intentional inspiration by Messiaen’s work. Undoubtedly the techniques used by the composer in this work are typical of contemporary music rooted in avant-garde thinking. This is particularly apparent in the organ part, which abundantly employs dissonant chords and sound spots, chromatic passages and chordal combinations recalling the sonic achievements of sonorism.
The initial Prelude begins with an organ introduction; the organ is shortly joined by the choir with the words De profundis clamavi (Ps. 130). These words are the textual basis of this part of the work, dramatic in expression. Their consecutive repetitions, separated by organ passages, become increasingly extended; after the third repetition the organ closes the Prelude with a descending solo passage. The central part of the work, the Psalm, then begins. The organ introduction has a lighter, more fleeting character here, which results from the use of delicate, little colour spots instead of dramatic chordal passages. The choir, which appears next, brings a dense texture of polyphonically developed voices. Here the composer has used texts selected from three psalms (Ps. 130, 64, 32). They are separated by a turbulent sequence of solo organ, introduced before the appearance of the last textual fragment. The consecutive phases of Psalm gradually gather in emotional intensity, leading to a dramatic climax, underlined by hitting the tam-tam. The music then slowly becomes calm, moving on to the final part, Meditation, which, after the quiet chords of the choir singing selected fragments from psalms 64 (Accedet homo ad cor altum) and 130 (…speravit anima mea), allows the music to dissolve in the final, delicate passages of the organ.
Considering the character of Prelude, Psalm and Meditation, it can hardly be described as a religious work, even though its title, and the use of the words of psalms, together with the use of the organ, would suggest such an interpretation. Undoubtedly, however, a strong element of spiritual meditation is present, and not just in the final part of the composition. At the same time, in view of a certain roughness, or even aggressiveness of the sound (particularly in the first part), this work takes us to a sonic world far removed from euphony or religious simplicity; on the other hand, it clearly brings to mind an aural sensitivity filtered through the experience of the “Polish composition school” of the 1960s.
text: Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska, liner notes to CD:
Krzysztof Baculewski “Utwory chóralne“, DUX 0769)