Canticum canticorum Salomonis

Krzysztof Penderecki

Canticum canticorum Salomonis

About this work

Written between 1970 and 1973 this approximately 17-minute work for choir and small orchestra is a setting of an erotic text drawn from the Song of Solomon. The crashing, clattering of percussion, random showers of high bell sounds, electronic-like sounds of bowed gongs and harmonium dissonances, sensual string glissandos and other unique orchestral timbres underline the dense vocals. Delicate clusters and dreamy interweaving choral patterns open the work. "Let him kiss me with a kiss of his mouth, your breasts are better than wine ... deck me with flowers, revive me with apples because I am weak with love ... you have wounded my heart with one of your looks and with one lock of hair of your neck ... rise up north wind, come south wind and blow through my garden to waft its fragrance into the air ... I come into my garden ... I harvest my myrrh and my spices." An electronic-like sustaining section is followed by clattering bells, and quasi-random pizzicati. Non-pitched, snaky, erotically moaning choral sounds with whispered phonemes is joined by the bell and pizzicati group. This is suddenly interrupted by the crashing of wooden and drum percussion interwoven with multi-voice speech and whispering. Clack! Everything stops. Clack! It all begins again. Icy harmonics float above the choir which is calling through the stillness. Low flutes and icy harmonics and bells. Sliding strings and uninhibited choral moaning and sounds of desire. Non-synchronous multi-voice slides and other vocalizations, eventually pulsed by bells. The choral masses fade away into one voice sing a single note, as if all the voice originate from that one person. Crystalline percussion sounds are followed by a siren-like chorus. Gentle hand-muted horn notes lead out the chorus on a high cluster that fades gradually away.

Done