WOJCIECH KILAR: The Solemn Overture; The Paschal Hymn; Symphony No. 5, “Advent” – Silesian Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra/ Miroslaw Jacek Blaszczyk  – Dux 0781, 60:15 [Distr. by Qualiton] **½: 

Polish composer Wojciech Kilar is a well-known and respected composer who is often mentioned in the same breath as Lutoslawski, Penderecki, and Gorecki. His music has evolved over the years, and he has espoused the idea of bridging the gap between the avant garde of the mid-twentieth century and the notion of the more practical and utilitarian aspects of music. These works here all have a religious aspect to them which is essential to the composer’s compositional foundations, and each one contains moments of beauty—all this music is quite tonal in nature.

But the effusive and badly-translated notes tend to put and intellectual veneer behind this music that I simply do not hear. Though the composer disavows the term “minimalism” with some vehemence, what I think I perceive in his music is a larger-celled minimalism. Instead of individual notes used as a unifying and repetitive function, we instead get two, and four bar phrases (and others) that are repeated in the same way. The overall effect is to present a music that sounds very simplistic, ultimately to the point of banality in many cases. Though the composer does have an obvious sense of melody, and gives us some fine clusters of phrases, the music rarely goes anywhere except when it travels in big blocks of phrases. As such I find it incapable of sustaining any sort of real interest.

Others might disagree, and if you know this composer you certainly will find this disc well-performed and recorded in very amiable sonics. All others please sample first.

— Steven Ritter