dimanche 8 novembre 2009

Henryk Górecki SYMPHONY No. 3

Henryk Górecki has established himself as one of the most well-known composers of the late twentieth century, with a musical style whose poignancy and accessibility found a broad and diverse audience. His worldwide recognition was rather slow in coming, however, and although his orchestral and chamber works from the 1960s and 1970s found favor with audiences in Poland and some critics abroad, it was the Third that eventually catapulted Górecki into the classical music spotlight. The Symphony No. 3, subtitled "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs," is scored for orchestra with soprano soloist and is cast in three somber movements. The first and longest movement, marked Lento, sonstenuto tranquillo ma cantabile, begins with a slow, deliberative canon, the theme of which is adapted from an old Polish folk song. At its apex, the canon is interrupted by a soprano soloist singing a fervent lament for Jesus in the voice of Mary: "My chosen and lovely son, share with your mother all your wounds...." Her text is taken from the Songs of the Lysagóra, a sacred collection dating from the fifteenth century. In the shorter but equally powerful second movement, a spare harmonic background casts a shadowy pall over the heartwrenching maternal words that were found scrawled on the wall of a Gestapo prison by an 18-year-old female inmate. The tone here turns religious, as well: "Little mother, do not weep, Purest Queen of Heaven, pray, do not abandon me, Hail Mary." The third movement, constructed as a set of variations, once again visits the theme of a mother mourning for her son; its text and theme were derived from Polish folk song. Despite the Third's intense expressivity and uncluttered musical language, its fame cannot be attributed to its style alone — and in fact, Górecki remained a relatively obscure figure to American audiences for some time after its composition, while three separate recordings of the piece enjoyed only average sales. However, in a happy convergence of musical style, shrewd marketing, and shifting public tastes, the 1992 recording of the work, featuring Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta, became an overnight hit and climbed up the classical as well as popular charts and sold over a million copies. Górecki's "Sorrowful" Symphony touched a more universal nerve and spoke to a broader audience than virtually any other classical work of its time. (Jeremy Grimshaw)

Henryk Górecki (1933- )
Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs")
1) Lento - sostenuto tranquillo ma cantabile (26:46)
2) Lento e Largo - tranquillissimo (9:45)
3) Lento - cantabile semplice (17:09)

Dawn Upshaw, Soprano
London Sinfonietta
David Zinman, Conductor

1992 Nonesuch

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