recommended music

Fr. Dawid Kusz: Witaj Maryjo

by Mark Nowakowski

When our Church leaders talk about creating art within the tradition of the Church, Dawid Kusz's (pronounced: David Kush) music might be exactly what they are ordering. A recently ordained Dominican, the Krakow-based Fr. Kusz writes with an incredible expressive range, all while remaining faithful to ancient forms and textual clarity. In his second recording titled "Witaj Maryjo" (Hail, Mary!), Kusz presents a mix of individual sacred pieces and music specifically suited for the liturgy. Receiving this recording as a gift, I was positively shocked when I finally placed it into my car's CD player. Kusz's music is unlike anything I have ever heard before, floating somewhere between the timelessness of Gregorian Chant and ancient Polyphony while somehow being decidedly modern.

Fr. Kusz's stylistic mastery and diversity can be immediately heard in the first three tracks. The initial piece, "Ave Maria," sounds decidedly modern in its narrow (but never uncomfortable) harmonies, while the textual clarity is uniquely reverent. The following Kyrie begins with a chant section in the altos, mournfully expanded-upon in clear and lush polyphonic gestures throughout the remainder of the choir. The following Gloria, by contrast, is as joyful as a renaissance-era Easter morning.

Fr. Kusz uses gentle smatterings of organ throughout these works, while sometimes even including hauntingly orchestrated ancient instruments. Despite clearly being a thorough composer, a masterful contrapuntalist, and an expert in ancient styles, Fr. Kusz's music has no intellectual pretension or academic posturing. Rather, it subjugates all style and skill to sacred substance, making for music suited both ideally for Catholic liturgy as well as private prayer. We can only hope that this is only the beginning of the young Dominican's public output, as the Church is sorely in need of such music. Fr. Kusz is a composer to both imitate and admire.

While the CD can only currently be purchased from overseas websites, the two stores on the left represent trusted companies. Shipping generally takes one week, and is well worth the effort.

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