Measuring up to Bach himself: Impudence, courage, or both?
Officially St Luke Passion was commissioned from Penderecki for the 700th anniversary of Münster Cathedral, but it was unofficially meant to celebrate the millennium of Poland’s baptism. Its synthesis of modern sound language with traditional form bewildered the audience at the premiere. Taking up religious themes, which were unwelcome to both the communist authorities and avant-garde artists, puzzled everyone. Like a jeweller’s young apprentice, the composer cut a diamond which no one had dared to touch since the time of Bach. Miserere is an original setting of a penitential psalm, featuring dissonant harmonies within a multi-part texture.