St Luke Passion – the reviews

Reviews are starting to come in of Penderecki conducting his St Luke Passion in Canterbury at the weekend. Here’s Tim Ashley in the Guardian:

As a religious-political statement, the work still arouses intense admiration. Its aim was to redefine the Bach-based tradition of passion music in the aftermath of mid-20th century genocide, and Penderecki’s choice of a Latin text over the vernacular expressed a libertarian Catholic militancy in opposition to totalitarian thought. Though the work’s harmonic palette no longer shocks, its moments of extreme violence remain profoundly unnerving. Paradoxically, it is the meditative sections that now convince us less and are strikingly prophetic of the conservatism of Penderecki’s more recent music.

My own thoughts will hopefully make it into print some time soon, but for the record, Ashley is pretty spot on here – I especially like “libertarian Catholic militancy”.

Paul Edlin, Artistic Director of the Sounds New Festival, of which this performance was the conclusion, was interviewed by Polskie Radio, and an mp3 of that conversation is here.


2 thoughts on “St Luke Passion – the reviews

  1. Sounds like a good performance – crazy that it hasn’t been done for 22 years.

    Ashley says it is “a work considered until recently unsingable” (I think he’s referring predominantly to the boys’ parts). Is this true?


  2. Well, hasn’t been done in the UK for that long – it has had plenty of performances elsewhere. I don’t know what Ashley’s referring to re. ‘unsingable’ – there’s nothing *that* difficult in the choir parts (compared to Ligeti’s Requiem, say) – and plenty of choirs have pulled off successful performances.

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