Part 01: Introduction Via Crucis
Part 02: Station 1: Jesus is condemned to death Iudicium a Pontio Pilato pronuntiatum est
Part 03: Station 1: Jesus is condemned to death Universa turba succlamabat dicens
Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton (conductor), Roger Allam (narrator), Allan Clayton (tenor), Iestyn Davies (countertenor)
Part 04: Station 2: Jesus takes up the Cross Jesus Crucem sustinuit
Part 05: Station 2: Jesus takes up the Cross Dicebat autem Jesus ad omnes
Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton (conductor), Roger Allam (narrator), Andrew Foster-Williams (bass)
Part 06: Station 3: Jesus falls the first time Jesus sub Cruce primum prolapsus est
Part 07: Station 3: Jesus falls the first time Quis credidit auditui nostro?
Part 08: Station 4: Jesus meets his Blessed Mother Mater obviam amantissimo Filio occurrit
Part 09: Station 4: Jesus meets his Blessed Mother Senex Simeon prophetizans
Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton (conductor), Roger Allam (narrator), Allan Clayton (tenor)
Part 10: Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross Jesus a Simone Cyrenaeo
Part 11: Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross Exeuntes autem invenerunt
Part 12: Station 6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus Veronica vultum Christi sudario detersit
Part 13: Station 6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus Auferet Dominus Deus lacrymam
Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton (conductor), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Allan Clayton (tenor)
Part 14: Station 7: Jesus falls the second time Jesus iterum sub Cruce prolapsus est
Part 15: Station 7: Jesus falls the second time Vere languores nostros ipse tulit
Part 16: Station 8: The women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus Mulieres Jesum Christum
Part 17: Station 8: The women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus Sequebatur autem illum multa turba
Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton (conductor), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Roger Allam (narrator), Andrew Foster-Williams (bass)
Part 18: Station 9: Jesus falls the third time Jesus Christus sub Cruce tertium cecidit
Part 19: Station 9: Jesus falls the third time Omnes nos quasi oves erravimus
Part 20: Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes Jesus vestibus nudatus et felle potatum est
Part 21: Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes Milites ergo cum crucifixissent eum
Part 22: Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the Cross Cruciatores Jesum Christum crucifigaverunt
Part 23: Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the Cross Et perducunt illum Golgotha locum
Part 24: Station 12: Jesus dies on the Cross Jesus Christus in Cruce mortuus est
Part 25: Station 12: Jesus dies on the Cross Stabat autem iuxta crucem Jesu mater eius
Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton (conductor), Roger Allam (narrator), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Andrew Foster-Williams (bass)
Part 26: Station 13: Jesus is taken down from the Cross Corpus Jesu Christi de Cruce depositum est
Part 27: Station 13: Jesus is taken down from the Cross Judaei ergo
Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton (conductor), Allan Clayton (tenor), Iestyn Davies (countertenor)
Part 28: Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb Corpus Christi sepulchro conditum est
Part 29: Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb Post haec autem rogavit Pilatum Joseph
Part 30: Station 15: The Resurrection Una autem sabbati, Maria Magdalene venit mane
Part 31: Christus vincit
Repetition, from one Station to the next, is central to the work’s culminatory, ritual power. Every Station, except the last, features a highly calculated sequence of recurring motifs and refrains. They define themselves most of all by textural separation—solo/choral, upper/lower voices, a cappella/instrumental—but also by tempo relationships and contrasts of mood.
Each Station is announced by solemn, three-part writing for male voices: austere, parallel fourths (one perfect, one augmented) making for a consciously archaic effect—aggressive even, as if the singers are Pilate’s strutting centurions. This stern pronouncement melts into a supplicatory Adoramus te for sopranos and altos, each time accompanied by a four-part trombone chorus of low-voiced parallel fifths.
In successive Stations, narrative passages for the three solo voices and the narrator, speaking in Latin, follow. Lukaszewski ‘colour-codes’ each solo part. The Evangelist part, written for a particularly high-lying countertenor voice, is always doubled by a bass clarinet. The tenor part, that of Pilatus, is tracked by the contrabassoon at the octave or double octave. And the bass/Christus part is always differentiated texturally with a doubling by the alto flute. With simple but effective symbolism, at the moment in the 12th Station when Christus bows his head (‘Consummatum est’—‘It is finished’), the alto flute carries on playing alone. Musically, the soul has left the body.
The final recurring component of each Station features a lamentation for upper voices and low strings, Qui passus est pro nobis—a more reflective, but equally austere counterpart to the opening refrain for male voices. There then follows a bridge passage between each Station for the woodwind quartet and sustained, droning fifths in the horns and lower strings. This recurring passage, based on a Polish folk tune and with medieval-like hocketing effects in the wind writing, is comparable to the Promenade sections in Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Here is a neutral space for the listener, free of text and voices, where Lukaszewski leads us on to the next Station. These ‘amorphic inter-Station passages’, the composer writes, enact ‘the reset function’. What is different from the other repeated materials in Via Crucis is the way Lukaszewski gradually winds down the tempo of each successive re-appearance. The first time it appears, we hear an alert, springing dance, marked Allegro, crotchet=120. With its last appearance, at the end of the 13th Station, we hear a mournful dirge, crotchet=40–46.
Lukaszewski adjusts tempo and dynamics with one final, crucial element of each Station. In the first two or three, it is not apparent. By the fourth, firm, tutti chords begin to register with the listener, because their number relates to the number of the Station. They precede each of the male-voice Station announcements, ever more dominating. They are block-like blows of the hammer, and Lukaszewski cranks up the tempo from Grave, crotchet=40/50 at the start to Moderato, crotchet=90 at Station 12. For the final two Stations, though, we are back to the Grave tempo, and the iterations of this chord, in Christ’s death, have lost their loud insistence.
Lukaszewski guides us through the story further, musically, in Stations 3, 7 and 9. These are the three Stations where Jesus falls, so the hammer blow chords are followed uniquely by snarling, snapped, brass-heavy diminished fifths—one of them in Station 3, two in 7, three in 9. These are musical signposts for subsequent differences in each Station; here the messianic prophecy from Isaiah Chapter 53 offers a presentiment of the suffering of the Via Crucis. These passages are uniquely for a cappella voices, and extend the overall range of the choral writing with solo invocations amidst a wash of sustained, eight-part clusters.
A similar, clustered wash of sound is achieved in the longest Station, the 12th, when woodwinds and brass swap their instruments for ocarinas. Eerie and disembodied, and markedly different from the more firmly pitched ocarina chorales in the second movement of Ligeti’s Violin Concerto, Lukaszewski prepares the way with haunting eloquence for Christ’s death.
The 14th Station omits choir or soloists, and features instead the most extended passage for spoken-voice narrator. The solemn cor anglais solo that weaves through these words is a Polish Christmas lullaby, Jezus malusienki—a quotation that symbolizes, Lukaszewski writes, ‘the birth to new life after the death of the body’.
Arvo Pärt, in his setting of the St John Passion, takes the listener on an ever so tightly controlled, unwavering journey of tonal and textural experience. After 65 minutes of calculated sparseness around A minor, the effect of his final chorus, blazing into D major, can be monumentally liberating. Lukaszewski does something similar with his 15th Station for the Resurrection, though he is hugely more expansive with his material both at that point, and with everything that has preceded it.
With almost cinematic vividness, the choir treads at first warily, then ever-more surely towards the light of Christ’s resurrection. The horns, at last liberated from their almost constant drones of paired fifths, lead the way to each new chord with a Bruckner-like sense of harmonic impetus. And then Lukaszewski gives us the cataclysmic release of C major, the chord of resurrection in Polish liturgy on Easter Sunday. This is led by the organ—tutta la forza, and until this point silent in the tension and sadness of the Passion story. Choir and organ lead the way from here to a reprise of the opening—this time with Christ in victory and majesty, and with a final, ecstatic chord bursting with the ambiguity of major and minor.
from notes by Meurig Bowen © 2009