Krzysztof Penderecki

Sacred Choral Works

Latvian Radio Choir
Sigvards Klava, conductor



English notes enclosed 

Sung text with English translation


November 2023

Catalogue No.:
ODE 1435-2


Track listing

CD 60:46
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020)
1 O gloriosa virginum (2009) 3:40
2 De profundis (1996) 6:09
3 In pulverem mortis (1966) 5:52
4 Song of Cherubim (1986) 6:43
5 Veni Creator (1987) 7:34
6 Miserere (1965) 4:36
7 Agnus Dei (1981) 7:33
Missa brevis (2012) 17:35
8 Kyrie 2:04
9 Gloria 3:13
10 Benedicamus Domino 3:17
11 Sanctus 1:48
12 Benedictus 2:17
13 Agnus Dei 4:56

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Complete description

This year marks the 90th birthday of Krzysztof Penderecki (1933–2020), one of the most prominent 21st Century Polish composers. Sacred themes and texts surround the creative work of Penderecki, including many of his large-scale works. This album by the award-winning Latvian Radio Choir under Sigvards Klava consists the majority of his impressive sacred a cappella choral works from five different decades and which are mainly written in Latin. These deeply religious choral works are modern classics in choral repertoire. Recent album by the choir, featuring choral works by John Cage, received nomination for the Gramophone Awards 2023.


The defining characteristics of Penderecki’s compositional language are many, and his style evolved throughout his career. He experimented with graphic notation and various extended techniques, his use of dense chord clusters was one of the hallmarks of his pre-1970s period, and he was fascinated by the idea of liberating the sound from traditional means of production. These characteristics can be heard also in his choral works written in the 1960s. By the mid-1970s his style began to gravitate towards leaner sounds and textures, and traditional tonality. Having had the experience of two extremes – artistic limitations imposed by the totalitarian ideology of communist Poland, and the almost unlimited freedom of Western avant-garde, which resulted in a continuous destruction of form, he started to search for new artistic means of expression. Although Penderecki’s compositional approaches changed and evolved during his many decades of creative work, what remained constant is his ardent response to dramatic and tragic events in human history. Penderecki’s ability to communicate emotional responses to historical events, past or present, is perhaps best demonstrated in his choral music, where the human voice is the instrument connecting the mind to the heart. The most extensive work on this album is Penderecki’s Missa brevis (2012), which is also among his final works.


The Latvian Radio Choir (LRC) ranks among the top professional chamber choirs in Europe and its refined taste for musical material, fineness of expression and vocal of unbelievably immense compass have charted it as a noted brand on the world map. The repertoire of LRC ranges from the Renaissance music to the most sophisticated scores by modern composers; and it could be described as a sound laboratory – the singers explore their skills by turning to the mysteries of traditional singing, as well as to the art of quartertone and overtone singing and other sound production techniques. The choir has established a new understanding of the possibilities of a human voice; one could also say that the choir is the creator of a new choral paradigm: every singer is a distinct individual with his or her own vocal signature and roles in performances.


Sigvards Kļava is one of the most outstanding Latvian conductors, also a professor of conducting and producer, music director of the Latvian Radio Choir since 1992. As a result of Sigvards Klava’s steady efforts, the Latvian Radio Choir has become an internationally recognized, vocally distinctive collective, where each singer possesses a creative individuality. Under Sigvards’ guidance, the choir has recorded a number of choral works by little known or completely forgotten composers of the past, as well as formed a friendly collaboration with a number of notable Latvian composers. Sigvards Klava is a professor at the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music. Klava is a multiple winner of the Latvian Great Music Award.