We present to you an album with compositions by Jacek Różycki, who we know was one of the most significant figures of the royal chapels of John II Casimir Vasa, Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, John III Sobieski, and Augustus II the Strong. The fact that we could contain the entire output of the composer on just two discs proves how much Polish intangible heritage we have lost. We can assume with high probability that, especially in the last years of his life, when he was associated with the royal court and worked between Dresden and Warsaw, Różycki composed instrumental pieces. However, they have not survived to our times. On the other hand, based on the preserved religious works, including those written in the Italian style i.e. Magnificat or Confitebor, it can be concluded that he was well acquainted with the composing craft and techniques popular in Europe at that time.
When I was preparing for and during the recordings, it was hugely interesting to navigate on the verge of historical truth, the performance hypotheses being considered and our inner musical sensitivity. I was particularly impressed by the hymns, mostly written in homorhythmic texture and intended primarily for the Rorantist ensemble in Wawel. It is impossible not to notice the strong influence of Protestant music. We recorded some of the hymns with a quite extensive ensemble with strings, sackbuts and cornett. The size of such an ensemble would certainly exceed the spatial capacity of the Sigismund Chapel. However, we assumed that they could also be performed in other interiors, hence this deliberately extended line-up, presenting our vision of Różycki’s music. It should also be noted that in the case of most of the hymns, we have decided to keep at least one verse performed by a male quartet a cappella or with organ accompaniment, i.e. in a version close to the authentic sound.
Not all hymns are preserved in their complete form. So, I decided to compose the missing parts and thus return to my idea of a hypothetical recreation of the score of old works. Maciej Jochymczyk took up this challenge, for which I thank him very much. Instrumental parts contains diminutions based on the performance practice of that time, and even improvisations going beyond the rules used in the 17th century. The idea was born during the preparation of a concert programme for the 55th International Festival Wratislavia Cantans. The message of this festival was one of the line of the anthem by Różycki Aeterna Christi munera (during the final concert, it was performed three times). The text of this composition comes from the hymn of St Ambrose. It is a meditation on the heroism of martyrs, whom the author describes as lights to the world. I decided to refer to these words, moved by the recent events triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the heroism of people helping those in need. They are true lights to the world – ‘et vera mundi lumina’. I want to dedicate this album to them.