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Gorecki, Henryk – “Symphony No. 3 ” – [Electra/Asylum/Nonesuch]

By 1992, go-RET-ski was nearing 60 years old, and his 3rd symphony was 15 years old. Gorecki hadn???t achieved any composing fame, except among the choicest circles. This symphony marked a turn towards a more traditional/tonal and less forward-thinking/avant-garde feel, much like compatriot Penderecki did at the same time. It draws on medieval modal tonalities without reverting to medieval rules. It???s mournful like Mahler but without any of the bombast. The Polish subtitle is unsatisfactorily translated as ???Symphony of Sorrowful Songs???, but it???s as accurate a translation as we could hope for. Dawn Upshaw rips your heart out with maternal laments while Gorecki???s strings draw out painfully slow canons. The texts are mournful: laments to Mary, a prayer to Mary found written on a concentration camp wall, and Mary???s words to her son as he hung dying. Some find redemption in the last movement, I just find more sorrow. In 1992 this disk was released and inexplicably sold nearly one million copies in two years, becoming the most successful album by a 20th century ???composer???. Naturally, the critical reception has never been so warm. Critics are never right. This is sublime.

The freak of the industry.

–Cujo, KFJC September 2007

  • Reviewed by cujo on September 16, 2007 at 10:02 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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