The Dream of Jacob

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The Dream of Jacob
Orchestral music by Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki 20080706.jpg
Krzysztof Penderecki (the composer) in 2008
Native nameAls Jakob erwachte
KeyC
Composed1974 (1974)
Dedication Prince Rainier III
Performed14 August 1974 (1974-08-14): Monte Carlo
Publisher
Duration7 to 8 min.
ScoringOrchestra

The Dream of Jacob, also referred to as The Awakening of Jacob [1] [2] (Polish : Przebudzenie Jakuba), is a composition by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. It is scored for large orchestra and was finished in 1974.

Contents

Conception and composition

The work's original German title, Als Jakob erwachte aus dem Schlaf, sah er, daß Gott dagewesen war. Er hat es aber nicht gemerkt (Jacob woke from his sleep and said: Truly the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it), [1] [3] is extracted from the Bible and can be found in Genesis28:16. The work was commissioned for the Silver Jubilee of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, to whom it is dedicated, and was first performed in Monte Carlo on 14 August 1974, by the Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. [4] [5] It was eventually published by the Polish Music Publishing House and Schott Music. [2] [6]

Analysis

The composition is scored for three flutes, three oboes, three B clarinets, three bassoons (ten woodwind players also double on ocarinas), five F horns, three B-flat trumpets, three trombones, one tuba, percussion and a large string section. [6] The composition is loosely based on the Bible passage mentioned above, therefore trying to resemble being in the desert on a ladder to heaven, while the angels are ascending and descending. [1]

The composition is in one movement and takes approximately 7 minutes to perform. The score is notated in C. [6] This composition is still one of the most performed in its repertoire and also the composition with which Penderecki introduced his neo-Romantic style, which he further developed in his following works, [5] moving away from the style he had been using for the previous 15 years, which included the composition of his first symphony. [7]

Reception

The composition received initially mostly positive reviews from Polish and European critics. [2] In the Polish literary magazine Kultura Paryska, the composition is praised for the elimination of "aggressive sound effects and terseness of form" in favor of a more refined style. [8] German music critic Detlef Gojowy described the compositions as bearing strong influences of Richard Wagner and Dmitri Shostakovich. [9] Andrew Porter, from The New Yorker , was also struck by the composer's exquisite use of the twelve ocarinas. [10] However, Polish magazine Ruch muzyczny stated that The Dream of Jacob did not "fulfill the emotional expectations of the German audience”, but the logic and clarity used in its composition was heartily welcomed. [11] Bernard Holland, from the New York Times , highlighted that the Kraków Philharmonic's performances were reviewed favourably, but also noted that the people "would eventually tire of the riveting sounds in his works and begin to wonder why its musical ideas do not flow together more effectively". [12] Penderecki was also criticized by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra for the difficulty of the notation. [13] and June Schneider, from Music and Musicians, questioned if the composer "is able to provide anything other than superficial sound manipulations". [14]

The Dream of Jacob has been featured in other audiovisual material. The following is a list of the movies and video games in which the composition is featured:

Notable recordings

Following are some of well-known recordings of this piece:

OrchestraConductorRecord companyYear of recordingFormat
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki EMI 1974 LP and CD [2] [20]
St. Olaf Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki WCAL 1977LP [2]
Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra Jacek Kasprzyk Supraphon 1980LP [2] [21]
Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra Jacek Kasprzyk Polskie Nagrania Muza 1980LP [2]
RAI National Symphony Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki Fonit Cetra 1982LP [2]
MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra Herbert Kegel VEB Deutsche Schallplatten Berlin/Berlin Classics 1984CD [22]
New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra Piero Bellugi New England Conservatory Performances 1985 Cassette [2]
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra Antoni Wit Polskie Nagrania Muza 1987LP [2] [23]
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki Chandos 1995CD [24]
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra Antoni Wit Naxos 2008CD [25]

Related Research Articles

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References

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  11. "Penderecki dyryguje w Bonn". Ruch muzyczny. 20 (1). 1976.
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  13. "The Israel Festival Trims Its Wings". High Fidelity/Musical America 25. 38. December 1975.
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