16th Misteria Paschalia Festival in olive gardens

Thursday 18 April 2019

Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
Some people, for example Blessed Agnès Galand de Langeac, a 17th-century French mystic, believe that it was Mount Olivet where Christ suffered the most, as he experienced spiritual suffering – doubt. He suffered the most – as a human being. After all, we all have our Olive Gardens.

The concerts on Holy Wednesday helped us deal with them. The first concert at the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, presenting Polish-Italian musical relations at the courts of Krakow and Warsaw, particularly that of Sigismund III Vasa, at the turn of the Renaissance and Baroque – owes its title – In monte Oliveti – to one of the masterpieces of Polish polyphony of the 17th century, a motet by Mikołaj Zieleński. This was not the only piece from the famous Offertoria totius anni and Communiones totius anni collections presented this evening – we also heard Angelus Domini descendit de caelo and the solemn Magnificat, filled with bright hope of resurrection. The evening was complemented by vocal and instrumental works by Asprilio Pacelli, Bartłomiej Pękiel and Claudio Monteverdi, as well as toccata for the organ by Tarquinio Merula. We listened to them in an excellent, poignant and emotional performance of the Capella Cracoviensis ensemble and choir led by Jan Tomasz Adamus, as well as Oltremontano – a Belgian wind quintet. The name of the latter recalls the Franco-Flemish composers of the Renaissance, whom Italian followers dubbed “people from beyond the mountains”. The ensemble comprises three historical trombones, as well as zinks – instruments that require unique technical skills (congratulations to Anna Schall and Doran Sherwick!). The dominant Venetian polychoral style resounded in the spacious interiors of the Augustine temple in full glory.

The Gonzaga court in Mantua also had another man from “beyond the mountains” – an outstanding 16th-century Flemish composer Giaches de Wert – maestro di cappella of the local palace church of St Barbara. It was there that his five-voice La Passione secondo San Marco was first performed, which became the basis for the reconstruction of the oratorio of the Passion of Christ – supplemented during an evening concert at the Church of the Holy Cross with additional motets by both de Wert and Luca Marenzio, as well as instrumental works by other composers associated with the church in Mantua. This reconstruction was carried out with unquestionable success by Prof. Ottavio Beretto, and masterfully performed by two ensembles from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis – Voces Suaves and Concerto Scirocco. The specific, dark tone of the aforementioned Baroque trombones and zinks, complemented by a dulcian and violone, beautiful voices of the soloists' octet, polyphonic river of motets and the text of the oldest of the Gospels – all these contributed to the artistic experience at the highest level.

A similar potential is offered by today's concert, filled with vocal and instrumental works of Italian late baroque (Antonio Vivaldi, Leonardo Leo, Antonio Maria Bononcini) performed by a quartet of Italian soloists, Concerto Italiano, Polish Radio Choir and Maestro Rinaldo Alessandrini. Join us at the ICE Kraków Congress Centre at 8:00 p.m.

Monika Partyk