For many, Henryk Gorecki is a one-hit wonder. The Polish composer’s 3rd Symphony, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs became an international sensation. But as well-crafted as the work is, it’s not fully representative of the composer’s style. Gorecki continually developed and grew as a composer over the course of his fifty-year career, and the 3rd Symphony was just a milepost along the way. This current collection from Naxos helps fill in some of the gaps, and does so quite effectively.
The earliest work on the album, Three Dances, sounds something like a very conservative Stravinsky. And as they were written in 1973, that makes them practically mainstream. Simple scales and repeated patterns drive these dances forward.
Also presented are two concertos. The Cantata-Concerto for flute was commissioned by flutist Carol Wincenc, who performs the work on this recording. As the name implies, the work isn’t so much a showcase for the flute, as a lyrical work that often uses the flute as a solo singer. The second is Gorecki’s harpsichord concerto from 1980. In this recording, the composer’s daughter performs the solo part on the piano, and keeps the energy level high on this short-but-sweet concerto.
Included is the Little Requiem for a Certain Polka (1993). It’s a work for a chamber ensemble, that moves between slow, meandering melodies and large, static blocks of sound.
Antoni Wit leads the Warsaw Philharmonic with authority, and provides sympathetic readings for these works. For anyone wanting to know more about Gorecki and his music, I highly recommend this recording.
Henryk Gorecki: Concerto-Cantata for Flute; Three Dances; Little Requiem for a Certain Polka
Anna Gorecka, piano; Carol Wincenc, flute; Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra; Antoni Wit, conductor