• Lutosławski: A Christmas Carol

Poland has a wonderfully rich heritage of carols.  In 1946, as the country was recovering from the devastation of World War II, Lutosławski collected together a set of Dwadzieście kolęd (Twenty Carols) for voice and piano; in 1984-89, he arranged them for soprano, female choir and chamber orchestra.

Exactly 22 years ago today (14 December 1990), in Aberdeen in Scotland, Lutosławski conducted the premiere of this second version, with Susan Hamilton, the Scottish Philharmonic Singers and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Here’s a recording of the first carol in the set, ‘Anioł pasterzom mowił’ (The Angel Said to the Shepherds).  The text is 11th-century, the music from the Śpiewnik kościelny (Church Hymnbook, 1838-53) compiled by Michał Marcin Mioduszewski.  On this recording, only verses 1 and 3 are sung.  The melody has an interesting construction of eleven bars (Lutosławski repeats the last seven).


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