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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

on 11 December 2000
I have been very inspired by this unusual collection of work. The composer has an excellent ear for the female soprano and choral music in general. There is a refreshing mixture of styles to listen to, but there is a powerful melancholy thread linking all the pieces together. The first choral works are beautifully simple if not slightly surreal and mysterious. The two long organ pieces which follow tend to have a monotonous and very sorrowful feel, no doubt intended. The style seems to be a mixture of modern and early influence. There is definite evidence of the polish renaissance, and at the same time, some instrumental tracks (particularly track 11) fall into a more modern, film score style, James Horner's Braveheart comes to mind on this track, especially with the reverberant wind instrument (unknown) mixed with long wavering string lines. Later there is the unexpected introduction of a saxophone which adds a clever contemporary and almost warming slant, working excellently well with the stark tones of the chorus. The dominantly male choruses return with full power towards the end as an unsettling climaxical atmosphere occurs through several very 'orff' like pieces.
This is certainly worth the purchase, it is very original and although extremely melancholy considering the composers motivation, haunting and extremly inspirational in its intentions.
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on 26 September 2000
The intensity of feeling that this CD provokes is second to none. I heard an extract late one night on the radio and it took me three months to trace the album from the little I heard about composer and title.
I was in Dublin when I eventually tracked it down and it was worth every precious moment of the previous months. It is not music for everyone but if you want to reflect and are happy to have memories and moments of sadness amongst moments of such amazing excitment you must listen to this album. But make sure that the first time you play it you are on your own and have an hour and a half to spare, because once it begins you will not want to be interrupted! And make sure you are listening on some good equipment!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 October 2008
This CD was given to me by a friend as a birthday present - was he trying to tell me something?

Zbigniew Preisner is a film composer. His Requiem is his first large-scale classical work and is written in two parts. The first, the requiem proper, is 31 minutes in length; the second, the life, is 36 minutes. It is dedicated to the film director Krzysztof Kieslowski, who died in 1996.

Part one features six soloists, a string quintet, an organ and percussion. It was recorded in Warsaw Cathedral and in a church in Krakow, so there is a great atmospheric echo. It is meditational in feel; there are large sections where only the organ plays, and then the music is slow and lugubrious, note by note. The soloists (one soprano - the only female - and two angelic countertenors, plus two tenors and only one bass) emphasise the otherworldly feeling. The Dies Irae is anything but!

The strings enter at the Offertorium. A single bell maintains a mournful tone. The pace is slow and measured, quasi-Baroque with minimal counterpoint. The music can sound very beautiful and celestial, such as in the short Sanctus where voices, organ and bell combine. For what kind of film would this be a soundtrack? Perhaps one by Tarkovsky?

The Lux Aerterna has a folkloric quality; the Lacrimosa, the climax of the piece, is forcefully beautiful with the organ thunderously underpinning the soloists. The repeated riffs throughout this piece remind me of Gorecki's third symphony. Its soundworld is neither comforting nor damning. It is ethereal, ending with a simple organ meditation that suddenly slows and stops. The music can be enjoyed as music and can be recommended for someone seeking a thoughtful and minimalist (in terms of participants) interpretation of this musical-religious form.

The second part, the life, appears to be the project on which Preisner and Kieslowski were working when the latter dies, although this is not explicitly stated in the accompanying sleeve-notes. Here we have an orchestra, choir, soprano and countertenor, with the players of recorder, piano and alto sax also separately credited.

It opens with a haunting sax solo. This part two is more is more in nature of a soundtrack; the inclusion of the choir in the opening piece gives it an epic quality, but there is still plenty of room for subtlety. It is well-arranged with interesting sound combinations; the music is warm and exotic. This time, perhaps an equivalent filmic feel would be one by, say Anthony Minghella.

But in the central section, we have sung an extract from Ecclesiastes, sung in Greek: "To every thing there is a season and a time." Now the warmth has gone, as the countertenor, choir and orchestra sound warnings. The phrasings toll like a midnight bell. It is very effective.

Apart from the final `prayer' (in Polish), the remainder of this part two is sung in Latin from the apocalypse of the Book of Revelations. Sounds of expectation become those of deadly certainty with male voices singing an ostinato reminiscent of marching soldiers. Preisner, no doubt using his experience as a film composer, skilfully twists the orchestra into producing sounds of menace and awe. But a choir of soloists offers salvation, and we are led into a repeat of the beautiful Lacrimosa from part one, the orchestra this time replacing the organ and with the choir in support too. Despite being an agnostic, I found it a very moving experience.

Sustained string chords and the prayer of a solo soprano bring this disc quietly and softly to a satisfying close.
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on 1 November 2017
A very interesting piece of music. There are distinct echoes of Part and Gorecki, and it varies from exciting and beautiful to the occasional bit of note spinning. I'm glad I bought it,though, and have enjoyed the playings I've given it.
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on 23 October 2017
Searingly beautiful, sensual music seldom played publicly after it's initial airing when CD first brought out.
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on 21 March 2018
CD good
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on 5 October 2015
I heard a couple of tracks from this album on a programme about the cosmos...took me a while to find out what it was..I haven't stopped playing ever since..now have 2 of his albums and both are masterpieces ...
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on 13 September 2009
I came across this work through ClassicFM and was so impressed by the one piece they played to buy the CD. Whilst familiar with some of the films he has scored he was otherwise unknown to me - I was not disappointed.

Whilst the circumstances of its creation are a little sad (the death of his friend the director Kieaelowski curtailing a bigger project), the result is a stunning work.

To quote two fellow reviewers there are pieces which genuinely make the hairs stand out on the back of your neck and at times you just have to stop and listen.

Whilst technicans may be able to pull the indiviudal pieces apart and comment on their construction etc, for me it is just perfect.

The voices are clear and the production atmospheric where it needs to be (part one was recorded in Warsaw Cathedral).

There are a variety of instruments (nice to see the alto sax get some credit) and beautiful voices, the music flows throughout. The two distinct halves complement each other from loosely familiar Sanctus, Agnus Dei and haunting Lacrimosa (I challenge you to play that quietly) to the stirring Apokalipsa sections which all show, I think, their comtempory roots.

Buy it. You will not be disappointed.

I will be exploring this composers other works very soon.
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on 6 April 2017
Perfect ! Thank you +++
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on 29 December 2016
Sheer quality....as one would expect from Preisner...Beautiful album....
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