Bartlomiej Pekiel was one of the most eminent Polish composers of choral music of the 17th century. He served at the court in Warsaw from around 1633 and was assistant to Marco Scacchi at the Chapel Royal in Warsaw before becoming Kapellmeister himself from 1645-1655 - the first non-Italian to hold the post. He then moved to Wawel Cathedral in Krakow where he wrote for the Rorantist vocal ensemble.
Just 29 of his compositions survive today and on this new album by The Sixteen
under the direction of Associate Conductor, Eamonn Dougan
, we present 10 of his works for choir and orchestra including the Missa Concertata La Lombardesca
resplendent with double choir, violins and sackbuts and the extraordinary and dramatic Audite mortals
In this recording dedicated solely to his works, Pekiel shows himself to be a skilled craftsman, mastering the techniques taught by the Italian maestri, but also imbuing his works with his own particular harmonic colour in all the varied styles in which he writes.
His name may be unfamiliar, but Polish composer Bartomiej Pekiel (c1633-1670) was a force in baroque vocal music, challenging the dominance of Italy whose influence had spread to the major cities of Krakow and Warsaw where he worked and producing a wealth of mainly religious music of which 29 works survive. The Sixteen and their associate conductor, Eamonn Dougan, perform the Missa a 14, the richly dramatic, multilayered Missa Concertata La Lombardesca with its vivid sackbut accompaniment and double choir, and the intriguing mini-drama, Audite mortales. The sound world, very loosely, brings to mind Monteverdi. The exciting dissonances and strange harmonic colours set Pekiel in a category of his own. --Observer, 26/05/13
Bartomiej Pekiel (roughly pronounced as Bart-wo-meeyay Poun-kyel) was arguably the finest Polish composer of the mid-1600s, no mean feat given his homeland s contemporary prominence among Europe s largest countries. He broke the grip of Italians on the post of music director of the chapel royal in Warsaw, rising to the top job in 1653 before becoming director of music at Kraków's Wawel Cathedral. His modern revival gained momentum two decades ago with the launch of a fine complete Pekiel edition and stands to gain from the release of this delightful recording on the Coro label, made with support from Poland's Adam Mickiewicz Institute. The Sixteen and their associate conductor Eamonn Dougan underline the high quality of Pekiel's surviving works, boldly stated in the 'Kyrie' and 'Gloria' [tracks 1 & 2] from his so-called Missa a 14 for eight voices and instruments and eloquently expressed in the touching simplicity of the unaccompanied Marian motets 'Assumpta est Maria' and 'Ave Maria' [tracks 11 & 13]. Pekiel is at his considerable best in the majestic sacred dialogue 'Audite mortales' [track 6] and 'Dulcis amor Jesu' [track 4], compositions clearly inspired by the highly expressive style of new music imported from Italy. The latter's fruity dissonances and contrasting moods receive full care and attention from an ace vocal quintet backed by flamboyant theorbo playing from David Miller. While the performing group for the 'Missa Concertata La Lombardesca' is not large, it packs a fair punch when required and eloquently projects the music's wide expressive variety.*** --Sinfini Music, 20/06/13
The choral sound is well focused in the men-only Ave Maria and the mini duets for sopranos are stylish. A delightful performance. Performance **** Recording ***** --BBC Music magazine, Sept'13
Sit back and relish this treasure trove which has clearly been prepared with passion. GRAMOPHONE CHOICE --Gramophone. Sept'13
The Sixteen turn in polished performances, clearly enjoying the many opportunities for the solo work with which Pekiel provides them. --IRR, Sept'13