Kraków | Feliks Nowowiejski's "The Return of the Prodigal Son" at the Kraków Philharmonic

FWMOn 12 June 2021 at 6.00 p.m., the Orchestra of the Warmian-Masurian Philharmonic in Olsztyn under the direction of Piotr Sulkowski, accompanied by the Mixed Choir of the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Kraków, will perform Feliks Nowowiejski's oratorio The Return of the Prodigal Son.

Nowowiejski wrote his oratorio The Return of the Prodigal Son in 1901 during his stay in Berlin, where he studied with the outstanding composer and conductor Max Bruch. His influence as well as that of other late Romantics, especially Antonín Dvořák, are heard in this youthful oratorio based on a biblical story. The German librettist Theobald Rehbaum removed the figure of the righteous brother and added the figure of a mother who immediately forgives her lost son. However, the father's heart turns out to be much more hardened than in the parable described by Jesus. The addition of a female voice and a conflict – the wife must persuade her strict husband to forgive their son – gave the composer the opportunity to use a wider range of means of musical expression.

Nowowiejski enchants the listeners with rich, sensual instrumentation: the symphony orchestra has been extended with an enlarged percussion set, including, among others, lyra, a kind of bells, as well as celesta, harp and organ (beloved by the composer). Each of the three parts of the work, entitled Son, Mother and Father, is preceded by a short a cappella motet for four-voice choir. Three solo voices: mezzo-soprano (Mother), tenor (Son) and bass (Father) speak one by one, only to intertwine in the finale, in the trio of a reconciled family. The solo parts during the ucpoming concert will be performed by Agnieszka Rehlis (mezzo-soprano), Arnold Rutkowski (tenor) and Łukasz Konieczny (bass).

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