Henryk Gorecki (1933-2010) became best known for his Third Symphony, the ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ that became a hit in the 1990s, tapping into a new hunger in the listening public for serious new music that was nonetheless melodically inspired and spiritual in sensibility. These qualities can be readily discerned in much of the rest of his small and fastidious output. The Kleines Requiem für eine Polka (1993) is itself at once a profoundly serious work and a curiously elusive one, a blend of warm expressive directness with almost Brechtian alienation. It is scored for a chamber ensemble: like Henze’s late masterpiece, it is an instrumental Requiem, in which words are felt to be otiose to the direct expression of grief and consolation.
The full title is "Symphony of the Damned - Re-symphonised." It is a re-recording of the band's debut album, originally released in 1990 when they were known as Morgana Lefay, printed on vinyl in only 537 copies. The last four songs are bonus tracks that were not part of the original recording. The guys decided to go back in the studio in 99 as Lefay and give it a fresh take and release it to the masses.
Sony has packaged this album like a 1980s disc of music to snog by, but the saxophonist Amy Dickson’s new release is an intriguing and entirely serious collection of recent works by Australian composers, works she did much to create. The title work, premiered by Dickson in 2012, is a late score by Peter Sculthorpe. The first movement is sun drenched and full of yearning, the saxophone soaring over a teeming orchestra; the second is a more unsettled expression of homesickness. Ross Edwards’s concerto entitled the Full Moon Dances – recorded, unlike the rest, live in concert – is elegantly scored and evocative, especially in the opening Mantra, in which the saxophone interweaves with the orchestral soloists, and in the pulsing, almost Stravinsky-esque First Ritual Dance. But it is Brett Dean’s 2007 flute concerto The Siduri Dances, here arranged for saxophone, which offers the most wide-ranging demonstration of Dickson’s mastery with its note-bending, buzzing effects and hectic rhythms.
Nonesuch Records releases the late Henryk Górecki’s final composition, Symphony No. 4, Tansman Episodes, on January 22, 2016. The recording was made during the 2014 world premiere performance at Royal Festival Hall with co-commissioner London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andrey Boreyko. The piece, which pays homage to Górecki’s fellow Polish composer Alexsander Tansman, was incomplete at the time of Górecki’s 2010 death and thus missed its previously scheduled premiere. However the score had precise indications for orchestration, which Górecki’s son Mikolaj, also a composer, used to complete it. The Daily Telegraph said the piece "caps Górecki's reputation as an orchestral composer, but it also contains some surprises. The music … features some brutal juxtapositions of massively powerful music with slow, intimate passages for solo instruments, including prominent parts for piano and organ".
Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, SYMPHONY OF THE SOIL is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil's key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental problems of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, SYMPHONY OF THE SOIL is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.
I well remember reviewing one of the first recordings, possibly the first in the West, of Górecki's hypnotising 3rd Symphony (Stefania Woytowicz with the Berlin Radio Symphony orchestra, conducted by Wlodzimierz Kamirski (Schwann CD 11615 (Koch-Schwann SCH 361-302)). I can remember my excitement at such a simple, yet moving, work. These folksong arrangements are in the same mould as the Symphony – slow and quiet, simple and direct. They are very beautiful. They’re neither as complex, nor as demanding, as either Szeroka Woda (Broad Waters), op.39 (1979) or Wislo moja, Wislo szara (My Vistula, Grey Vistula), op.46 (1981), but in their own way they are affecting ………This is a most interesting and satisfying disk and it’s good to hear such fine choral singing.
"This sacd is truly wonderful. Under the leadmanship of Stokowsky all music becomes something extraordinary. Start with the majestic notes of Liszt's Hungarian rhapsody & end with Wagner. And don't forget smetana's moldau! Then I switched to the 3-channel mix on the SACD. The orchestra became much wider & deeper on the soundstage, with the flute solo in the Moldau front & center with greatest clarity & presence…" ~audiophile-audition