The essay in the program booklet for this release of Górecki's String Quartet No. 3 (…songs were sung), makes much of a supposed caesura in Górecki's creative output following the phenomenal success of Nonesuch's 1992 release of this Third Symphony, with soprano Dawn Upshaw, which elevated him practically to the level of a pop star. The essay implies that his meteoric rise to being one of the most famous and popular contemporary composers may have produced a creative crisis that caused him to wait until 2005 to finally deliver the score of his Third Quartet, which he had written in the winter of 1994-1995. In fact, Górecki's sudden notoriety seems to have had little effect on his creativity; between 1993 and 2004, he wrote 16 opus numbers.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Although admittedly a posthumous release, I was very surprised at the rather dismissive tenor of many of the reviews of this album to date. Hopefully this record will be reappraised soon as being a release worthy of anyone's consideration as I feel it does enhance an already rich legacy left behind by this very fine and innovative band. (So what if Charisma wanted to ride the slipstream of the lucrative ELP juggernaut?)
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.
These four works, written between 1973 and 1993, fully reflect Górecki’s expressive variety. The Little Requiem for a Certain Polka, for piano and thirteen instruments, combines a wide range of moods. The Concerto-Cantata, which received its world première from the soloist on this recording, alternates a moving vein of melancholy with a charged, violent energy. The radical, energetic Harpsichord Concerto is heard here in the version for piano, performed by the composer’s daughter. The Three Dances are hugely approachable and full of exciting contrast.
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.Bob Briggs@musicweb-international