Friday, November 12, 2010

More on Gorecki

As Tom Service points out in the Guardian, Gorecki's legacy is much more--and much more varied--than the Third Symphony that brought him worldwide notoriety in the 1990s:
The thing is, the Third Symphony is untypical of Górecki's earlier work, and only partly reflects his later. Górecki began his musical life as an uncompromising modernist in Poland. His orchestral works of the late 50s and early 60s made him a new-music sensation at the Warsaw autumn festival, and his music was heard at the same bleeding-edge events as that by Xenakis and Boulez.
His listening suggestion: the 1956 Piano Sonata. He links to one version; here's another:

I don't know if I would call this bleeding-edge modernism, certainly not at all like Xenakis or Boulez, but it does show a more lively, aggressive side. At the same time, there is a directness and consistency of affect to the Piano Sonata that is similar to the Third Symphony.

Another piece to look at is the Second Symphony, commissioned by the Kosciuszko Foundation in honor of Copernicus's 500th anniversary in 1972. It opens with the driving rhythm of the piano sonata and a final movement that presages Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

If you want to hear Gorecki discussing his music, go to NPR's Deceptive Cadence blog, which has a 1995 interview with the composer posted.