Trio of Mikolaj Gorecki works present balanced portrait

The three works in this release each present a different facet of Mikolaj Gorecki’s style. There are similarities: two are for orchestra; two feature a clarinet, horn, and piano trio. But each has its own character.

Gorecki’s orchestral work Zan Tontemiquico was inspired by the pre-Columbian poem of Tochihuitzin. It begins  “We only come to dream. It is a kind of meditation on the human fate.”

The music has a dreamlike quality to it. The strings play long, sustained chords changing very slowly. Other instruments drop in and out, providing color and further enhancing the other-worldly quality of the poem. Marek Mos and the Aukso Chamber Orchestra of Tychy perform with the disciplined sensitivity this music requires.

The Trio Concertante for clarinet, horn, piano, and orchestra is a quite different work. Here Gorecki uses an overlapping series of motifs that guide the listener through the work.

The opening reminded me quite strongly of Stravinsky’s “Firebird.” But that gradually transitioned into a quieter, consonant lyricism.

Trio Titanic may reference the famous tragedy, but don’t expect the music to depict crashing icebergs or sinking ships. Rather, Gorecki’s music is more about impressions than actions. The opening movement (before the collision) is serene, with flowing, consonant chords suggesting a smooth ocean voyage.

Gorecki titled the second movement “Don’t you hear the band?” It references the Titanic’s musicians playing to calm the passengers. But rather than a mournful hymn, we get lively, energetic reimaginings of ballroom dances.

The finale reflects on the tragedy itself. The music is slow, with lots of minor thirds and downward chromatic motions. It’s a true masterwork and masterfully performed by the Silesian Trio.

Mikolaj Gorecki: Zan Tontemiquico;  Trio Concerto; Trio Titanic
Silesian Trio
Aukso Chamber Orchestra of Tychy; Marek Mos, conductor
DUX

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