Paweł Łukaszewski: Daylight Declines
Regarded as one of Poland’s greatest musical talents of his generation, Paweł Łukaszewski is perhaps best-known for his choral works. As well as an active composer, Łukaszewski is also a conductor and is currently the Artistic Director of the Musica Sacra choir in Warsaw. Łukaszewski has worked with some of Poland’s finest orchestras and musicians such as the Warsaw Philharmonic, as well as teaching composition to the next generation of musicians at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music.
Composed in 2013, Daylight Declines is written for unaccompanied choir. The piece came from a commission by the Canatrix Choir in the Netherlands.
Daylight Declines takes translations from Andrzej Trzecieski’s original text of the same name.
Daylight declines, the night advances
We ask the Lord for deliverance,
That He our Guardian remain,
Protecting us from evil domain of spirits
Who always in the dark upon their treachery embark.
The piece is inspired by another work that uses the same by Waclaw z Szamotul from the 1500s.
Daylight Declines is a very atmospheric work that plays on nuanced dissonances between the voices. Long sustained bass notes support the slowly-growing upper voices. As the night closes in, the voices begin to move in different directions. Łukaszewski’s textures are rich with a range of different voices. The tension is built towards the first climax, with the voices intertwining. The upper male voices tip the scales over as the music comes back down to a dim glow of sound.
Some lines are easier to hear than others, which allows the listener to immerse themselves in the music. Important phrases and words are emphasised, whereas other parts are kept at a shimmering glow. The voices are constantly moving and evolving, creating a piece that is anything but static. Łukaszewski’s use of dissonance is often nuanced, but also sometimes used to create certain colour patterns in the timbres. Daylight Declines ends quietly, as the darkness finally takes over.
Paweł Łukaszewski is one of Poland’s greatest musical treasures. His choral works are ethereal, emotional and intelligent – and Daylight Declines is no exception.
Ⓒ Alex Burns