The Awakening of Jacob for orchestra
The Awakening of Jacob, or The Dream of Jacob – the title preferred by the composer – is among those compositions that serve as caesuras marking qualitative changes in Penderecki’s style. It grew out of his Magnificat, or rather out of material that remained after its composition, but exhibited new elements in the composer’s thinking much more distinctly than the earlier work. The need for writing “different music” had become ever more imperative since the time of his Symphony No. 1, as the composer revealed in Rozmowy Lusławickie [Conversations in Lusławice].Written in July 1974 in Jastrzębia Góra, The Dream of Jacob came with a epigram from Genesis: “And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.’” [Genesis 28:10-19, King James Bible]. It is tempting to relate this quotation to the character of the piece and see it as a kind of key for interpretation. The composer resolutely rejected such suggestions, admitting in a discussion during the First Musical Encounters in Baranów Sandomierski, only to his fascination with this Biblical scene’s peculiar beauty and confirming, in an interview for Beethoven magazine (2013, No. 17) that it was The Awakening that had helped him “to get out of the cluster sphere”.But how did it happen? For the first time in years, the use of “extended instrumental techniques” in the string parts was seriously limited by the composer, with only some harmonics, glissandi and tremolos, and the wind parts were treated equally economically. Penderecki also significantly reduced the role of percussion. The overall sound is significantly tempered and more euphonic; it has also acquired a mystical aura, which has to do with the inclusion of a group of ocarinas, orvessel flutes, that the composer had already used in Canticum Canticorum (instead of Polynesian conch shells, which are hard to get). As the composer recalled in an Internet interview in 2010, this was precisely the kind of “non-direct” music that Stanley Kubrick was looking for several years later, to be used in the soundtrack of The Shining. The opening of The Awakening of Jacob appears in the film several times, for example in the scene culminating in a bloody vision where Danny, son of the main character, Jack, talks to his imaginary friend Tony, or at the moment when Jack wakes up from his nightmare.