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Gorecki: Works For String Orchestra

Gorecki / Plawner / Polish Chamber Philharmonic
Release Date: 08/27/2013 
Label:  Dux Records   Catalog #: 938   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Performer:  Piotr PlawnerJean-Marc FessardRoman Widaszek
Conductor:  Wojciech Rajski
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The large, bold print on the CD cover says “Górecki” and “Works for String Orchestra”—and you would be forgiven for assuming that this is a program of heretofore unrecorded pieces by the late, famous composer of Beatus Vir, Miserere, a requiem, various works for string quartet, and, most significantly, Symphony No. 3, written in 1976 and topping the sales charts and claiming major classical music awards citations for a recording 16 years later in 1992. But that was Henryk; this recording features six works by his son, Mikolaj (the name displayed in the very thin and very small print), and if you enjoy string music and are interested in hearing a program of relatively new works (the oldest from 1998, the most recent from 2012), a Read more little confusion over names won’t bother you at all.

Górecki’s music is solidly, idiomatically, engagingly written–that is, it is made for serious listening by varied audiences; it is not the experimental, self-consciously “original” academic workshop product we so often find on new recordings these days (especially involving strings). In fact, in an interview, the composer made the point that we are fortunate that in contemporary music we have arrived at a place where the perceived need to include “an element of ‘shock’ in a piece of art is worn out. You need to really have something to say, not just use this or another ‘new technique’ which the next day is forgotten.”

Górecki does have “something to say”—and happily no one will need reams of notes to explain what it means (in fact, there is not a word of commentary on the music in the liner notes). The stylistic point of view doesn’t change much—whether the work includes soloists–violin, celesta, clarinets–or involves string ensemble alone, there isn’t much to distinguish one of these pieces from another. But the music invariably holds our attention–and the performers, all first-class, leave no doubt regarding their commitment to the music’s worthiness and power to affect whoever may be listening. There are some (for me, anyway) “unfavorite” moments—especially the last movement of the Concerto Notturno, with its extended stretch of seemingly random, clashing ugliness, finished with some not-quite-tuned violin harmonics. But the Ivesian final movement (Lento) of the Three Fragments for String Orchestra & Celesta is a bit of genius. And while I’m not a big fan of the clarinet, the Three Intermezzos present the soloists in just the right dose and in perfect balance with the strings—a nicely conceived and skillfully executed work that clarinetophobes can really enjoy! Other highlights include the dynamic nine-minute Overture for String Orchestra and the gripping Farewell for String Orchestra, which fittingly concludes the program. Hopefully, though, this will not be Górecki’s final contribution to the string orchestra repertoire. This is first-rate stuff—and Dux’s sound, from Stella Maris Church in Sopot, Poland, is excellent.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto Notturno, for violin & orchestra by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Performer:  Piotr Plawner (Violin)
Conductor:  Wojciech Rajski
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Stella Maris Church in Sopot 
Length: 14 Minutes 24 Secs. 
2.
Overture, for string orchestra by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Conductor:  Wojciech Rajski
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2000 
Venue:  Stella Maris Church in Sopot 
Length: 9 Minutes 3 Secs. 
3.
Divertimento, for string orchestra by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Conductor:  Wojciech Rajski
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2009 
Venue:  Stella Maris Church in Sopot 
Length: 13 Minutes 13 Secs. 
4.
Fragments (3), for string orchestra & celesta ad lib. by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Conductor:  Wojciech Rajski
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1998 
Venue:  Stella Maris Church in Sopot 
Length: 11 Minutes 26 Secs. 
5.
Intermezzos (3), for 2 clarinets & string orchestra by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Performer:  Jean-Marc Fessard (Clarinet), Roman Widaszek (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Wojciech Rajski
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1999 
Venue:  Stella Maris Church in Sopot 
Length: 9 Minutes 23 Secs. 
6.
Farewell, for string orchestra by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
Conductor:  Wojciech Rajski
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2009 
Venue:  Stella Maris Church in Sopot 
Length: 4 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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