Daylight Declines

Nigel Short and Tenebrae

Content by Albion Media.

To mark the composer’s 50th birthday and the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence, Nigel Short and Tenebrae release an album of choral works by Polish composer Paweł Łukaszewski on Signum on 1 June.

There is a sacred theme to much of Łukaszewski’s work which is heard throughout the disc, starting with a psalm Cantate Domino, moving through to the lamentations of Jeremiah and ending with a musical setting of the Beatitudes Beati.  The album also includes two Shakespeare Sonnets Like as the waves and Weary with toil, five Tenebrae Responsories and Daylight Declines, the title track.

This will be Tenebrae’s eighteenth disc on Signum Classics, following the recent release of their Symphonic Psalms and Prayers in February 2018 which marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, a disc which the Financial Times called “a master stroke of programming by Nigel Short”.  Tenebrae also recently received a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Choral Performance’ for their Music of the Spheres album on their own label Bene Arte (an imprint on Signum Records).

“Paweł Łukaszewski has a distinct style of composing whereby the text is always very clear. The intense spirituality of the words is perfect for Tenebrae as we are able to be expressive with the text.”
Nigel Short, founder and conductor of Tenebrae

Ahead of the release of Daylight Declines, Tenebrae has curated a Holy Week Festival at St John’s Smith Square, hosting workshops, concerts and last-night liturgical events. The Festival’s programme will be underpinned by Paweł Łukaszewski’s Responsoria Tenebrae, which are featured on the album, and will be performed by Tenebrae and Nigel Short in a series of free late-night liturgical events on 28 and 29 March.

Watch a behind-the-scenes video from the Daylight Declines recording session.

Paweł Łukaszewski
Paweł Łukaszewski was born in southern Poland in 1968 in the city of Czȩstochowa, a centre of religious pilgrimage owing to the presence there of a statue of the Black Madonna at the Jasna Góra Monastery. There is a predominantly sacred thread to most of his compositions, although his international reputation seems to have blossomed on account of his choral output, the majority of it settings of Latin and English texts as opposed to his native tongue. Revered in his homeland, the list of awards and accolades is substantial including numerous for the Fryderyk Award and, most recently, the Feniks Prize in 2017. He was composer-in-residence with the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra (2011/2012) and has taught composition in the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw since 1996, where he himself had been a student and was awarded a doctorate in composition. He is vice-rector of the University and professor of composition. He has garnered prestigious, national honours and his work has a loyal following around the globe, with over 110 CDs of his work to date.

While it is difficult to categorise Łukaszewski’s compositional style, it has a timeless element and is, in his own words, in a renewed tonality. Any description of this genre risks being subjective but it seems to centre around the use of conventional, choral sonorities, often in a clear, homophonic format, yet in a manner which does not lead the listener on a predictable journey, involving unexpected turns in harmonic juxtaposition and rhythmic techniques which make demands of the listener as much as of the performers. In a sense he has a foot firmly in the ancient style of sacred choral writing, something shared by many major composers such as Brahms, Bruckner and Stravinsky when they wrote for choirs. Some textural methods appear idiosyncratic and intricate on paper but lend soft borders to the effects of the music, as if metaphorically viewed through lenses and filters. There is an easily-discernible cultural link with his Polish predecessors, such as Lutosławski and Penderecki, but the influence of Henryk Górecki and the Estonian Arvo Pärt is evident in the fervent but restrained, spiritual aspect of Łukaszewski’s music, and his individual voice never stoops to mere imitation.


Described as “phenomenal” (The Times) and “devastatingly beautiful” (Gramophone Magazine), award-winning choir Tenebrae, under the direction of Nigel Short, is one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles renowned for its passion and precision.

Tenebrae has twice secured the award for Best Choral Performance in the BBC Music Magazine Awards (2012 and 2016), and its recording of Fauré’s Requiem with the London Symphony Orchestra was nominated for the Gramophone Awards (2013). Music of the Spheres, Tenebrae’s album of part songs from the British Isles, received a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Choral Performance’ in 2018.

Tenebrae is renowned for its highly-acclaimed interpretations of choral music with repertoire ranging from the Renaissance through to contemporary choral masterpieces and has appeared at major festivals including the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival and Montreux Choral Festival (Switzerland).

The 2017-18 season sees the return of Tenebrae’s popular Holy Week Festival at St John’s Smith Square, London, as well as concerts throughout the UK, Europe, USA and the choir’s debut in Australia.

Nigel Short
Award-winning conductor Nigel Short has built up an enviable reputation for his recording and live performance work with leading orchestras and ensembles across the world.

A singer of great acclaim, Nigel was a member of the renowned vocal ensemble The King’s Singers from 1994–2000. Upon leaving the group he formed Tenebrae, a virtuosic choir that embraced his dedication for passion and precision. Under his direction, Tenebrae has collaborated with internationally acclaimed orchestras and instrumentalists and now enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s finest vocal ensembles.

To date, Nigel has conducted the Academy of Ancient Music, Aurora Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, English Chamber Orchestra, English Concert, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Scottish Ensemble. He has directed the London Symphony Orchestra alongside Tenebrae in a live recording of Fauré’s Requiem, which was nominated for the Gramophone Awards (2013) and since then, he has conducted the orchestra at St. Paul’s Cathedral as part of the City of London Festival. Other orchestral recordings include Mozart’s Requiem and Ave Verum Corpus with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and a new release of music by Bernstein, Stravinsky and Zemlinsky with the BBC Symphony Orchestra described as a “master stroke of programming” (Financial Times).

Nigel has vast recording experience having conducted for many of the world’s major labels including Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI Classics, LSO Live, Signum and Warner Classics. In 2018, he received a Grammy nomination in the category of ‘Best Choral Performance’ for Tenebrae’s album of parts songs from the British Isles, Music of the Spheres. As a Gramophone award-winning producer, Nigel works with many of the UK’s leading professional choirs and vocal ensembles including Alamire, Ex Cathedra, Gallicantus and The King’s Singers.

Daylight Declines

Nigel Short and Tenebrae release an album of choral works by Polish composer 
Paweł Łukaszewski to mark his 50th birthday. Release date 1st June.

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