Exodus (classical work)

Wojciech Kilar

" The general sense of bursting energy the piece provides is not to be underestimated "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Wojciech Kilar divided most of his time between writing scores and classical works. Exodus, a poem for choir and orchestra, was inspired by the events surrounding the inauguration and forthcoming masses of Johannes Popes II, and to a certain degree to the events in his homeland of Poland. Still, he dedicated the piece to his long-life collaborator Krystztof Zanussi, who adequately used the composition only once for Dotkniecie reki (The silent touch, 1992)

Kilar spent about 2 years in writing the piece, from 1979 to its premiere in 1981, preceded by Siwa Mgla and exceeded by Angelus. His first idea for the work derived from the visit of Johannes Paul II, the first Polish pope in over 500 years, who visited Warsaw in June 1979. Over 3 million people attended his mass at PiƂsudski Square, listening to his religiously reassuring words, addressing the Poles, not only spiritually but also speaking his critical thoughts on communism. It took place in a time Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary for the Central Committee of the governing Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was not pleased with his visit. It is unknown how much influence the Pope really had, but it consequently led to the Polish strikes in December 1979, the first crack at rebelling against the communist regime. Three months later martial law was declared in Poland. The composer has stated the piece was never intentionally trying to refer to the status quo of his country, even though he was aware of what was happening of course. But the text he used, from the Book of Exodus, did show striking similarities.

He began writing Exodus while working on the score to David in 1979, for which he especially drew inspiration from a Jewish songbook and one specific melody, which would ultimately become the recurring theme of Exodus. It provided for simplification of expression through this melody, resembling the nature of a film score. The intentional use of the Bolero, Ravel is one of his great examples, and the repetitive chord E - major do give Exodus much merit, being so closely connected to Kilar’s strength in evolving musical themes and with the intensified performances of repetition, complimented by the overlaying use of the Jewish melody, the piece does reach great heights. Additionally the composition infuses a mixed choir jubilant in chanting the texts of the book of Exodus, which altogether forms an exuberantly satisfying experience.

Exodus is a sensational work by Wojciech Kilar, a liberating statue of grandeur and the celebration of faith, or merely a universal sense of celebration to those who are not religious. It most certainly isn't the most intellectually challenging, containing vastly less inspiring musical ideas to superior milestone works such as Kresany. However, by the general sense of bursting energy the piece provides, it is not to be underestimated and it makes this piece such an endless joy. Exodus is the most accessible and well-known classical work by the composer.

The composition has been recorded with a variety of conductors and performers and I cannot remember any of them strikingly inferior to others. But I do feel the recordings with Antoni Wit, the best Polish conductor to date, discloses the music potential fullest, as heard on releases by Naxos and Dux.

Duration: ca 23'
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(total of 2 votes - average 5/5)

Released by

Naxos (regular release 2001)