Friday, November 12, 2010

Gorecki Was the '90s

Gorecki's Third Symphony was all the rage, particular in the UK, after the recording with Dawn Upshaw, London Sinfonietta, and David Zinman became a hit in 1993.

Lamb released a song named after the the composer that was a licensing bonanza (it was used I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, a Femme Nikita TV episode, and a Tomb Raider video game). "Gorecki," as musicologist Luke Howard points out, bears the characteristic mark of Symphony of Sorrowful Songs:

The symphony's trademark sound--slow, thick strings; ethereal, slightly exotic sounding soprano melodies; static harmonies--was everywhere. Even in beer commercials. Howard hears it in the Death Scene to Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luhrmann also used Lamb's lyrics in his Moulin Rouge!).

It's hard to deny that this Polish composer, who passed away today, shaped our everyday musical environment--what we heard in movies, on the radio, on TV, and even in the mall--for a good ten years just as definitively as Kurt Cobain.