Sanctus Adalbertus, Op. 71

Album cover art for upc 5902547076515
Label: DUX
Catalog: DUX7651


The origins of Sanctus Adalbertus Op. 71by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and the way in which the work was brought to the public are very special. It was written in 1997 to commemorate the millennium of the martyr’s death of Saint Adalbert. It was to have been premiered that year during Pope John Paul II’s pilgrimage to Poland. These plans did not materialize, however, due to the composer’s illness. The autograph score of the oratorio was discovered in the Górecki archives by his son Mikołaj. On November 4, 2015, five years after the composer’s death, Sanctus Adalbertus had its world premiere at the ICE Congress Centre in Kraków, during a gala concert to mark the 70th anniversary of PWM Polish Music Publishers. The composition is often referred to as ‘the big Adalbert’, following ‘the small Adalbert’, the cantata Salve sidus Polonorum Op. 72 (2000), whose material is based on the third movement of Sanctus Adalbertus. In writing Sanctus Adalbertus, Górecki used the Book of Psalms and his own texts, in Polish, Latin and Czech. As the outstanding expert on Górecki Adrian Thomas, observed, the oratorio’s musical material contains “references both to Edward Elgar’s late--Romantic style and to the relic of Polish early music, the medieval chant ‘Bogurodzica’ (Mother of God).” According to Thomas, Sanctus Adalbertus is a natural successor to Beatus vir (1979), Górecki’s psalm for baritone, choir and orchestra. Both are scored for almost identical forces, with a soprano part added to Sanctus Adalbertus. Beatus vir was written in praise of St Stanislaus (Stanisław in Polish), the Bishop of Kraków, who died a martyr’s death. The two compositions were part of Górecki’s plan of a cycle of works on Polish saints, which is said to have included also an oratorio devoted to Saint Maksymilian Maria Kolbe, a martyr of Auschwitz.

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