About this Recording
8.550822 - GÓRECKI, H.: Symphony No. 3 / 3 Olden Style Pieces (Kilanowicz, Polish National Radio Symphony, Wit)
English 

Henryk Górecki (b. 1933)

Symphony No.3, Op. 36 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs)
Three Pieces in Olden Style

The Polish composer Henryk Górecki was born in Silesia in 1933 and studied at the Katowice Conservatory and in Paris with Olivier Messiaen. He has made his subsequent career largely in Katowice, where he was appointed as a member of the Conservatory teaching staff. He has won a number of important awards for composition both at home and abroad, but earlier successes have been eclipsed by the phenomenal popularity of his Third Symphony, which has had a much wider appeal than could have been forecast, in part because of the relatively approachable musical language in which it is couched and in part because of its peculiar relevance to the mood of today, its anxieties, sorrows and hopes.

Górecki's musical idiom has developed gradually into a language of great originality. In earlier years influenced by serialism, in common with many other composers, he later shows the more overt influence of Messiaen and above all a preoccupation with instrumental sonorities. His interest in earlier music, in devotional texts and music often of Medieval origin, coupled with a fascination with the resources of the modern orchestra is often evident.

The Third Symphony was written in Katowice between October and December 1976 and dedicated to Górecki's wife. It was first performed at the avant-garde Festival of Royan the following year. The first movement opens with a canon for strings, building gradually through the possible orchestral register, starting with the double basses and mounting in pitch and intensity, as each part enters in imitation. At the heart of the movement is the 15th century Polish Lamentation of the Holy Cross Monastery, in which the Mother of Christ begs her dying Son to speak to her. After this the canon resumes, descending, as before it had risen, in both pitch and intensity, slowly unwinding to end with the single melodic line, the cantus firmus with which the movement had begun.

The second and third movements of the symphony together are as long as the first movement. All three are marked Lento, but this direction conceals many nuances of tempo, delicate and subtle changes of pace. The second movement offers an immediate contrast to the sombre elegiac tone of the first. The words of the song are none the less tragic, a prayer scratched on the wall of a Gestapo cell by an eighteen-year-old Polish girl seeking the protection of the Queen of Heaven. The melodic line, with its accompaniment of clustered sonorities, is sad but lyrical in its gentle beauty, touching the heart of the listener in part because of its textual and historical source, to which the music adds even greater poignancy. A repeated motif introduces the third movement, with its folk-song in which a mother laments the loss of her son, whose body she now seeks, the insistent ostinato of the orchestra pointing a melodic line of the greatest simplicity. The symphony ends with an expression of hope, allowing the boy, killed by cruel enemies, to rest in peace, lulled by God's song-birds and surrounded by the flowers of God.

In 1963 Górecki wrote Three Pieces in Olden Style for string orchestra, combining elements of folk origin with more recent musical techniques. The three pieces, which in many ways suggest something of the mood and technique of the Third Symphony, open with music that gradually builds in intensity. A quicker second piece is followed by a final piece that echoes the mood of the first.

I. Lamentation of the Holy Cross Monastery (15th century)

Synku mily i wybrany
Rozdziel z matka swoje rany
A wszakom cie, synku mily,
/w swem sercu nosila,
A takiez tobie wiernie sluzyla,
Przemow k matce,
bych sie ucieszyla,
Bo juz jidziesz ode mnie,
moja nadzieja mila.

My son, chosen and loved,
Let your mother share your wounds
And since, my dear son,
I have always kept you in my heart,
And loyally served you,
Speak to your mother,
make her happy,
Though, my dear hope,
you are now leaving me.

II. Prayer of the eighteen-year-old Helena Wanda Blazusiakowna, inscribed on the wall of a Gestapo cell in Zakopane

Mamo, nie placz, nie,
Niebios Przeczysta Królowo,
Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie.
Zdeowas Mario.

Mother, no, do not cry,
Queen of Heaven most chaste
Help me always.
Hail Mary.

II. Folk-Song in Opole Region Dialect

Kajze mi sie podziol
moj synocek mily?
Pewnie go w powstaniu
zle wrogi zabily.
Wy niecobrzy luzie,
dlo Boga swietego
cemuscie zabili
synocka mojego?

Zodnej jo podpory
juz nie byda miala,
chocbych moje stare
ocy wyplakala.
Chocby z mych lez gorzkich
drugo Odra byla,
jesce by synocka
mi nie ozywila.

Lezy on tam w grobie
a jo nie wiem kandy,
choc sie opytuja
miedzy ludzmi wsandy.
Moze nieborocek
lezy kaj w dolecku,
a móglby se Iygac
na swoim przypiecku.

Ej, cwierkejcie mu tam,
wy ptosecki boze,
kiedy mamulicka
znaleze go nie moze.
A ty, boze kwiecie,
kwitnijze w okolo,
niech sie synockowi
choc lezy wesolo.

Where has he gone,
My dearest son?
Killed by the harsh enemy, perhaps,
In the rebellion.
You bad people,
In the name of the Holy God,
Tell me why you killed
My dear son.

Never more
Will I have his protection,
Even if I weep
My old eyes away,
Or if my bitter tears
Were to make another Oder,
They would not bring back
My son to life.

He lies in the grave
I know not where
Though I ask people
Everywhere
Perhaps the poor boy
Lies in a rough trench
Instead of lying, as he might,
In a warm bed.

Sing for him,
Little song-birds of God,
For his mother
Cannot find him.
And God's little flowers,
May you bloom all around
So that my son
May sleep happy.

Zofia Kilanowicz
The Polish soprano Zofia Kilanowicz was born at Novy Targ and had her musical training at the Academy in Cracow, winning important awards in national and international competitions. She has appeared principally as a soloist in oratorio and in the concert-hall, with a repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the contemporary. This has not prevented appearances on the operatic stage, with her debut in 1988 as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Warsaw Chamber Opera. Further performances led to her appearance at the Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie in 1990 as Drusilla in Monteverdi's L 'incoronazione di Poppaea. Her recordings include a release of the complete songs of Chopin.

The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice (PNRSO)
The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice (PNRSO) was founded in 1935 in Warsaw through the initiative of well-known Polish conductor and composer Grzegorz Fitelberg. Under his direction the ensemble worked till the outbreak of the World War II. Soon after the war, in March 1945, the orchestra was resurrected in Katowice by the eminent Polish conductor Witold Rowicki. In 1947 Grzegorz Fitelberg returned to Poland and became artistic director of the PNRSO. He was followed bya series of distinguished Polish conductors - Jan Krenz, Bohdan Wodiezko, Kazimierz Kord, Tadeusz Strugala, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Stanislaw Wislocki and, since 1983, Antoni Wit. The orchestra has appeared with conductors and soloists of the greatest distinction and has recorded for Polskie Nagrania and many international record labels. For Naxos, the PNRSO will record the complete symphonies of Tchaikovsky and Mahler.

Antoni Wit
Antoni Wit was born in Cracow in 1944 and studied there, before becoming assistant to Witold Rowicki with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw in 1967. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and with Penderecki and in 1971 was a prize-winner in the Herbert von Karajan Competition. Study at Tanglewood with Skrowaczewski and Seiji Ozawa was followed by appointment as Principal Conductor first of the Pomeranian Philharmonic and then of the Cracow Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1983 he took up the position of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice. Antoni Wit has undertaken many engagements abroad with major orchestras, ranging from the Ber1in Philharmonic and the BBC Welsh and Scottish Symphony Orchestras to the Kusatsu Festival Orchestra in Japan.


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