St. Luke Passion
The form of Penderecki’s Passion is the subject of extensive scholarly and critical commentary. Its briefest description can be found in composer and theoretician Bogusław Schaeffer’s Concert Guide, where he writes that the old traditional form has been filled with modern sound language and that the architectural principle “is taken directly from Bach”. The two parts, consisting respectively of 13 and 14 sections, are sequences of the narrator’s recitations, arias, chorales and instrumental parts, alternating between dramatic, reporting, commenting and lyrical character. The composer introduces archaic melodic elements that go back further than the Baroque, to Dutch motet polyphony and Venetian polychorality. There are also perceptible jazz inspirations (for example at the 23’ mark), and sections in which choir members talk, try to shout down one another, laugh, sigh or whistle recall Hasidic prayers that the composer heard as a child. Also contributing to the success of his Passion are the creations of Andrzej Hiolski, in the memorable aria Deus meus, and Henryk Czyż.
statement that Penderecki took his Passion
“directly from Bach” can also be understood literally. The composer took up the
challenge – as he admits, he was young enough to do it – of reviving a genre in
which the most outstanding manifestations were created in the mid 18th century
the great Johann Sebastian in Leipzig. Penderecki’s masterwork then inspired
the Passions by Arvo Pärt and Sofia
Gubaidulina, which bear a distinct “mark of Penderecki”.