Górecki: Symphony No 2, Etc / Wit, Kilanowicz, Dobber, Et Al

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You might remember Polish composer Henryk Górecki's best-known work for voice and orchestra, 1976's Third Symphony ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs"). After all, David Zinman's recording for Nonesuch with soprano Dawn Upshaw raced to the top of the classical and pop charts when it was first released in 1992. It might be tempting to understand Górecki by that singular success; in the case of the Second Symphony and Beatus vir, you wouldn't be too far off base. The Symphony No. 2 "Copernican" was written four years before the Third Symphony; Beatus vir was written in 1979. Both works call for voice and orchestra (as well as mixed choir). By the late 1960s, the composer already had settled into a signature aesthetic that many came to know in the Third Symphony: a lone voice floating over a murmuring pulse, thunderous blows of percussion, massive blocks of orchestral chords, and religiously oriented texts. (The Beatus vir text comes from the Psalms; the Second Symphony, following the work's subtitle, uses the astronomer's own words in praise of God, taken from De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.)

For better or worse (depending on your response to the Symphony No. 3), Górecki's compositional language in these two pieces will be quite familiar. If you find Górecki a compelling artistic voice--and I do--then these performances will be a worthy addition to your library, if not quite as emotionally harrowing an experience as Symphony No. 3. The ethnic connections on this Naxos release run deep: Copernicus was Polish, Beatus vir was commissioned by the Polish Pope, John Paul II (when he was still Cardinal of Cracow), and these artists, uniformly first-rate, are Polish as well. Baritone Andrzej Dobber turns between despondency and strength as the psalms call for, and soprano Zofia Kilanowicz has an appealingly warm tone. Antoni Wit has an admirable track record with Naxos, and this recording is another win for him. The sound is excellent: very focused and rich.
--Anastasia Tsioulcas, ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8555375

  • UPC: 747313537525

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Henryk Mikolaj Górecki

  • Conductor: Antoni Wit

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Polish Radio/TV Chorus, Silesian Philharmonic Chorus

  • Performer: Andrzej Dobber, Zofia Kilanowisz