Canticum graduum op. 27 for orchestra
Canticum graduum, like Górecki’s Old Polish Music, was composed in 1969. It was commissioned by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) Orchestra and dedicated to Otto Tomek, a WDR journalist who showed special favour for Polish music. Unlike Old Polish Music, which was based on strong contrasts of texture, Canticum graduum represents a homogeneous sound. In the latter piece, the composer develops an idea already known from Choros I and the external sections of Refrain: The drama of the composition is built on slowly shifting chordal blocks. The intensity of sound rises in those chords to a level clearly anticipating the powerful sound of the first movement of Symphony No. 2 “Copernican”. The expressive power of Canticum graduum derives from the harmonic intensity of the chordal structures. Similar to Old Polish Music, the music calms in the coda, which draws for its atmosphere on early sacred music, though this time without any direct quotations.