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Górecki: Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 13 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B0001XAS7Q
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD
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1. Lento (Sostenuto Tranquillo Ma Cantabile) - Joanna Koslowska
2. Lento E Largo (Tranquillissimo - Cantabilissimo - Dolcissimo - Legatissimo) - Joanna Koslowska
3. Lento (Cantabile Semplice) - Joanna Koslowska

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa096a63c) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa06cce4c) out of 5 stars Better than the Zinman/Upshaw Recording Nov. 3 2010
By Michael J. Daum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Although the Nonesuch recording has always been the one to receive most attention, it feels rushed and uncomfortable. As slow as the piece is, I always come away from that recording with the jitters. And it doesn't hit my heart, either. Despite the fact that Ms. Upshaw's voice is exceptionally beautiful, it doesn't pierce, penetrate, and rub away my defenses the way that Joanna Kozlowska's thicker, more emotionally present, voice does.

I hesitate to give the impression that one can "use" a work of art to fabricate a spiritual experience; nevertheless, the Kord/Kozloswka recording is undeniably mystical. The pace is slightly slower than the Zinman/Upshaw, more languid, and much more hypnotic. The ascending figure of the first movement accomplishes the amazing feat of creating the sensation of reaching toward the ineffable. The repeated bursts of dense, atonal chords in the third movement erupt like intense flashes of divine light. And throughout it all Ms. Kozlowska delivers the songs with such refined and masterly pathos that you do not need a translation to understand exactly what she is singing. The lamentation of the second movement, gentle and whisper soft, is almost more profound and intense than one can bear. To listen is to be transformed.

Of course, Henryk Gorecki would probably scoff derisively at my assessment, as well as at this recording, for being as undeniably, unapologetically spiritual as it is. And with good cause. Once something gets labelled "spiritual" it immediately becomes susceptible to criminal sentimentality. But you and I are better than that, aren't we? We can recognize and experience something as sacred without destroying it in the process. Buy this cd and find out.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa06374e0) out of 5 stars Gorecki's Beautiful, Sorrowful Masterpiece Superbly Performed Aug. 2 2009
By Concerned Citizen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Written by Henryk Gorecki in 1976 while the Soviet Union was still occupying Poland, the Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" is a beautiful, sorrowful masterpiece that powerfully communicates the enduring Christian faith of Catholics in Poland who survived five years of brutal German Nazi rule and later four decades of brutal Soviet occupation of their country. He dedicated the symphony to his wife.

Conductor Kazimierz Kord and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra recorded this excellent performance of the "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" in 1994 with Polish Soprano Joanna Kozlowska. Kozlowska's emotive clear voice evokes the suffering communicated by the three different prayers upon which each of the three movements of the symphony are based.

This CD is priced low, but the quality of the recording is excellent. Of the three recordings of this symphony that I have listened to so far, this is by far the best because the Warsaw Philharmonic and Kozlowska perform so harmoniously together.

The 30 minute first movement is centered on a 15th-century lament from the Holy Cross Monastery in Poland in which Jesus' mother speaks to her suffering son. You might be tempted to turn up the volume at first because the lush string chords build very slowly in intensity until the lamentation prayer is beautifully sung. Then the intensity slowly and gently decreases. The timing and the pitch of both Kozlowska and the orchestra are superb.

The very poignant second movement (10 minutes) is based on a prayer to the Virgin Mary that was scratched into the wall of a Gestapo cell by an 18-year-old girl being held prisoner by the Nazis the city of Zakopane. Kozlowska's voice and orchestra blend harmoniously together to convey the emotion intensity of the prayer.

The final 19-minute movement is based on a Polish folk song-prayer that tells the story of a suffering mother who is searching for her lost son who she fears has been killed by enemies and buried somewhere in an unknown place. She prays that God will console her son, wherever he is.

Gorecki's prayer-like music is captivating and conveys his deep spirituality. Anybody who is aquainted with suffering will be able to relate to this sometimes heart-wrenching music. It is an emotionally intense experience but well worthwhile.

If people around the world listen to Gorecki's music they may be able to better appreciate the suffering experienced by Christians, Jews, and other people in Poland during the past century. Perhaps his music will encourage people to work harder to alleviate the suffering of people living in our world today.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa06378b8) out of 5 stars Caution: most reviews here are for the Kord/Kozlowska CD version June 4 2012
By Lost in Siberia - Published on Amazon.com
but the MP3 download here is a different album, by different performers. A Kord/Kozlowska MP3 download is available here: Gorecki Symphony No. 3 Part of the problem in links may be that Kozlowska is also spelled Koslowska.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Douglas - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I must admit that I had never heard of Gorecki until he died last week. Read his obit in the NY Times, noted that this piece sold 1,000,000 copies [for a symphony?!?], bought this version on Amazon because it was cheap. Holy cow. This is one amazing piece of music. There is no instant gratification here. It builds slowly, but what a ride. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0db40b4) out of 5 stars Another Interpretation Feb. 2 2012
By Gio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Who can explain Perception? I listen to a lot of music. I attend a lot of concerts, including some in which I perform myself. I've performed and heard a fair amount of music by living or recently deceased composers. It's often a discouraging chore to attract listeners to concerts of "modern" music, and it's not always enjoyable to hear what they think of it. Henryk Górecki is not a "household name" anywhere except, perhaps, in Poland, but he's as well known a "Modern Composer" as anyone, in the milieu of modern-music makers. But I swear I was unaware of the phenomenal acclaim for his Symphony No. 3, his "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs", especially among people who don't ordinarily listen to music of this genre. There are at least nine different recordings of it available on CD. One of them, the interpretation by singer Dawn Upshaw with the London Sinfonietta, is listed by amazon as the #4 best seller among CDs of 20th C music and has received 136 reviews, including mine of a few days ago. 117 of those reviews are five-star ratings. All of the various interpretations draw a majority of five-star reviews, and all of them are declared "best" by somebody.

Well, dear friends, there's a lot of music in the world, and I haven't heard more than a minor portion of it yet, though my CD collection is endangering the foundation of my house. When I listened to the Upshaw/Sinfonietta performance, I recognized at least some of the qualities that make this composition appealing -- chiefly a kind of unwavering emotional gravity -- but I had an uncertain instinct that other interpretations might reveal more. This, therefore, is my second Górecki Third review, and I intend only to compare the performances without analyzing the work itself.

Listening to the two recordings on the same day, I find that I "trust" this one, performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic with Polish soprano Joanna Kozlowska, more in terms of affect. It isn't that Kozlowska is a better singer than Upshaw. She isn't, but she sounds to my ears more attuned to the "national spirituality" -- I suppose that's risky description -- of Górecki's chosen texts and folk themes. Upshaw is a multi-faceted performer, as eager to sing Handel, Weill, Debussy, or Sondheim as Górecki, and just as excellent at all of them. In this case, her voice sounds more generically artistic, while Kozlowska sounds specifically Polish in her lamentations. Conductor Kazimerz Kord takes the movements of the symphony just a fraction slower than the London Sinfonietta's David Zinman, and he extracts more clarity from the inner instrumental voices. To be metaphorical, Kord etches while Zinman chalks. Any preference would be a matter of personal response. This recording, however, has some engineered distortion, some metallic burr, on the sections of greatest acoustic density, that I find unpleasant. You'll find that I've given both performances four rather than five stars, as a token that I don't consider either of them "definitive".

Beware of the MP3 samples, by the way. Put yellow caution tape around your speakers. The MP3 offered on this product page is NOT this performance. It's the CD by Ernest Bour & Symphonieorchester des Südwestfunks-Baden-Baden.