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Posted August 14, 2012
Everyone knows Gorecki’s “Third Symphony” which, though written in 1976, brought him worldwide fame in the 1990s. Much less familiar (though undeservedly so) are the four works on this CD, yet they resound with all the particular genius that the late Polish composer brought to his medium: hypnotic lyricism, intense tonal contrasts, forbidding blocks of sound, and glorious spiritual and emotional release. The compositions range from 1973 to 1993, and present a broad stylistic and thematic range. Highlights for this listener are the “Little Requiem for a Certain Polka,” stunning in its economy of means and power of expression; and the by turns haunting and disconcerting “Concerto-Cantata,” which contrasts dirge-like passages with Stravinskyian outbursts of orchestral rhythm and color. Gorecki’s “Harpsichord Concerto” (piano and orchestra version) and “Three Dances” are scarcely less compelling: Both are notable for their rhythmic tension and melodic luminosity. The appearance of Gorecki’s daughter Anna on piano lends a nice personal touch, and she and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra deliver assured and inspired performances of these essential additions to the composer’s canon.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2012
For many, Henryk Gorecki is a one-hit wonder. The Polish composer’s 3rd Symphony, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs became an international sensation. But as well-crafted as the work is, it’s not fully representative of the composer’s style. Gorecki continually developed and grew as a composer over the course of his fifty-year career, and the 3rd Symphony was just a milepost along the way.
This current collection from Naxos helps fill in some of the gaps, and does so quite effectively.
The earliest work on the album, Three Dances, sounds something like a very conservative Stravinsky. And as they were written in 1973, that makes them practically mainstream. Simple scales and repeated patterns drive these dances forward.
Also presented are two concertos. The Cantata-Concerto for flute was commissioned by flutist Carol Wincenc, who performs the work on this recording. As the name implies, the work isn’t so much a showcase for the flute, as a lyrical work that often uses the flute as a solo singer. The second is Gorecki’s harpsichord concerto from 1980. In this recording, the composer’s daughter performs the solo part on the piano, and keeps the energy level high on this short-but-sweet concerto.
Included is the Little Requiem for a Certain Polka (1993). It’s a work for a chamber ensemble, that moves between slow, meandering melodies and large, static blocks of sound.
Antoni Wit leads the Warsaw Philharmonic with authority, and provides sympathetic readings for these works. For anyone wanting to know more about Gorecki and his music, I highly recommend this recording.
Posted June 26, 2012
This new Naxos disc in Antoni Wit's survey of music by Henryk Gorecki includes some well-known pieces as well as a world premiere recording of an important work.
The Harpischord Concerto, written in 1980, shows up here in the alternate version for piano. The piece loses some of its colour and texture without the harpsichord, though perhaps its underlying driving structure is more obvious. The composer's daughter, Anna Gorecka, plays the piece with panache. This is Gorecka's second recording of the concerto. Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra provide a superior accompaniment and Naxos a much better recorded sound than the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra under Agnieszka Duczmal on a Classicord disc from Polish Radio in 1991.
It's also great to see a new recording of The Three Dances op. 34, which are favourites of mine. The Warsaw musicians shine in these delightfully virtuosic pieces. Delightful is also the perfect word for the Little Requiem for a Certain Polka, a puzzle-piece for orchestra that's spooky, mocking, seductive and funny by turns.
The strongest, most important work on the disc, though, is the Concerto-Cantata from 1992, which for some reason is receiving its premiere recording. There aren't so many flute concertos out there that such an interesting work for flute & orchestra can afford to be ignored. I trust that this will be the first of many recordings to come in the future. Carol Wincenc provides an assured performance on the flute, and again Wit and the Warsaw orchestra provide impressive support. It's easy to recommend such a varied and interesting CD!