Henryk Górecki is best known for his now, fortunately for us, fairly frequently performed 3rd Symphony "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs'. And while his other music is less often heard, even in the symphony halls, this recording gives the opportunity to experience yet another of this great Polish composer's major works - O Domina Nostra for soprano and organ.
A collection of musical gems by great contemporary composers of the minimalist and postminimalist trend. Music of Steve Reich (Vermont Counterpoint, New York Counterpoint - first recording of the saxophone version), Arvo Pärt (Pari Intervallo), Hans Otte (Eins), Ludovico Einaudi (Quattro Passi), Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (For you Ann Lill, Op.58), skilfully interpreted by Andrea Ceccomori and Goffredo Degli Esposti on the flutes, Paul Wehage on the saxophones, Cecilia Chailly on harp and Fabrizio Ottaviucci on piano.
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.
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".
World première recordings of works by John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, Valentin Silvestrov and Alexander Knaifel sit alongside pieces by Henryk Górecki and John Cage on the first recording from a new Irish label operated by noted concert promoters Louth Contemporary Music Society (LCMS). All of these very popular contemporary composers have in various ways been deeply influenced by profound spiritual, religious or cultural encounters, and the disc celebrates them in a moving, magical programme. A Place Between intersperses - to wonderful effect - beautiful works for string quartet (Silvestrov's meditative Ikon, Tavener's deeply moving Ikon of Joy/Sorrow, Pärt's reflective Da Pacem Domine) with two solo piano works (Pärt's uplifting Hymn to a Great City, and Cage’s melodic and expressive In a Landscape). Górecki's memorial for Michael Vyner, Good Night and Knaifel’s mystical O Heavenly King both feature the haunting voice of soprano Patricia Rozario. Silvestrov's 25.X.1893 lullaby is a melancholic and lyrical piece for violin and piano.
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