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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Requiem should have been
Electra Nonsuch, a division of Warner Communications, released a CD several years ago of such power, reverence and intensity that it deserves a second look in 2004. The CD, Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3 in three parts is consistent in its elegance and somber tone throughout. Composed in 1976 in the small town of Katowice, the Symphony take us through the account...
Published on July 10 2004 by OperaOnline.us

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3.0 out of 5 stars Unique Simplicity Illustrates a deeper Sorrow
As a composer and musician well acquainted with the work of Henryk Górecki, familiar enough perhaps to allow the free convention of using only his last name, it gives me great sense of pleasure to impart my thoughts on the most popular of his large scale works.
But before I continue, I will amorously confess now that this particular recording has always...
Published on July 9 2003 by E. Walling


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Requiem should have been, July 10 2004
This review is from: Symphony #3 (Audio CD)
Electra Nonsuch, a division of Warner Communications, released a CD several years ago of such power, reverence and intensity that it deserves a second look in 2004. The CD, Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3 in three parts is consistent in its elegance and somber tone throughout. Composed in 1976 in the small town of Katowice, the Symphony take us through the account of what occurred in another small town outside Katowice, named Oœwiecim, better known to the world as Auschwitz. As the name would suggest, the Symphony evokes images of long human suffering, endurance and ultimately salvation from the human condition of a Nazi concentration camp. Nothing cheery here. But there is something uplifting, too; from the moment the first movement begins: "Lento - Sostenuto Tranquillo MA Cantabile", when the almost imperceptible dual bass introduces us to the canon that follows, the slow tempo and evocative dull cadence like the slow beat of a fading heart, one senses the mood will evolve and elevate, and it does, gradually, through a spiritual second movement - "Lento E Largo - Tranquillissimo" in stages until the soprano, Dawn Upshaw, begins her imprisoned prayers and carries us to affirmation in the final and third movement, "Lento - Cantabile Semplice". The words are prayers inscribed on the walls of the cells inside Auschwitz: "18-years old, imprisoned since 26 September 1944". This simple statement of fact, says it all. Symphony No. 3 is, in an odd way, sensual and very personal in the way that music speaks to the soul and what is in our hearts. You play this CD when you are ready to meditate and relax, or when you are with someone you care about and want to hold them close. No words need to be said, the music speaks its own language here. Verdi came close to this with his Requiem, but didn't sustain the mood. Górecki sustains the mood and never deviates or disrupts the spirituality of the tone he creates. Immediately after I listened to this CD I went to my cabinet and took out John William's equally evocative and reverential "Saving Private Ryan". The two should be played one after the other, in the order recommended. There are similarities in the two that make the match a good one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Peaceful, Feb. 3 2014
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This review is from: Symphony #3 (Audio CD)
I heard part of this on the radio, and fell in love with it. I understand from the literature enclosed that it has sad history based on the Second World War and loss, But I found the music so soothing and relaxing and thought provoking too. I would recomend this to anyone who would like "space" from this harried world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Oct. 16 2012
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This review is from: Symphony #3 (Audio CD)
This is an outstanding recording of a sublime piece of musical writing.But make sure you are in the mood for something that is very subtle and does not end loudly. You will be taken on a very rewarding musical journey and when you complete it, feel refreshed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This would be the best version even at non-bargain prices, Jan. 25 2004
By 
Robert Moore (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Symphony No. 3 (Audio CD)
This disc is truly the best of both worlds: an amazingly cheap (cheap! not merely affordable) classical disc of a fascinating piece of musical magnificently performed. Despite the presence of premium priced versions of this haunting piece of music (as well as at least one other very good bargain version), Antoni Wit directing the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra manages to outshine the competition. I knew two previous versions of this before, the famous Nonesuch with David Zinman and Dawn Upshaw, and the Philips with Joanna Kozlowska undertaking the vocals.
I recommend this version over the alternatives for four reasons. First, the price is unbeatable. Second, I believe the performance is marginally better than its competitors. Third, the remarkable singing of Zofia Kilanowicz. Fourth, unlike some recordings of this symphony, the disc contains not only the symphony itself, but "Three Olden Style Pieces," which while not as interesting as the main piece are not without interest. In short, this disc features the best performance, is offered at the best price, and contains more music than its competitors.
I do want to question the logic behind one of the other reviews. A reviewer from Derbyshire has expressed his belief that this music is somehow intellectually inferior and that its effects can be as harmful as a drug. I'm sure this was meant hyperbolically, but even granting this, this seems to me to indicate some confusion. In fact, the point is confusedly made. He grants that in Ravel (in the Bolero, a piece that I like not only less than most of the rest of Ravel's corpus but far less than the Gorecki) repetition is effective, and also in Beethoven. Why Gorecki's use of repetition is supposed (I emphasize "supposed") to be less effective is not made clear. Is it because the symphony is popular? Personally, I find the symphony haunting. The music strikes the listener with the simplicity of simple folks tunes and simple masses. Yes, it produces a stunning emotional reaction and can be almost mesmerizing. I personally do not see how this is a negative.
Although this is almost without question the most popular symphony of the past few decades, it has been subject to some criticism because it isn't sufficiently "modern." I worked for a couple of years at Symphony Center in Chicago, where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs. I was fascinated to hear backstage the intense hatred a significant number of the orchestra members had for the work of most recent composers. Someone like Gorecki, however, they liked. To me it seems like a perfect instance of the musicians themselves knowing that the emperors had no clothes. We have, I believe, at present something of a gap between fans of orchestral music and musicians on the one hand, and composers and composition teachers on the other. Contemporary orchestral compositions have been plummeting in popularity in the period following Stravinsky and other composers of the early twentieth century, and I would argue that the impossibility of enjoying these compositions on more than an intellectual level has been one of their greatest problems. I am not arguing that orchestral music should be anti-intellectual, but it can't be merely intellectual, as too much of it is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Minimal and intensely moving, June 24 2004
By 
Bruce Hodges (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Symphony #3 (Audio CD)
When this recording emerged in the early 1990's, it not only shot to the top of the classical charts, but to the top of some pop charts as well, an unusual phenomenon. It's not hard to see why; the composer's simple, but eloquent language here speaks to many types of listeners, even those who might not usually listen to so-called "serious" classical music.
The symphony is in three slow-moving sections, all labeled "Lento" and with heartbreaking texts. As a sample, here are the words to the second movement, based on a message found scrawled on a Gestapo prison cell wall in 1944 by an 18-year-old girl:
No, Mother, do not weep,
Most chaste Queen of Heaven
Help me always.
Hail Mary.
The music accompanying these sometimes agonizingly sad words is shining, gleaming, radiant -- transforming what could be heard as unremitting despair into something more spiritually uplifting. Dawn Upshaw, singing in Polish, sounds gorgeous here, with the simple purity of her voice adding a great deal to David Zinman's unforced interpretation of the work. The renowned London Sinfonietta plays with a delicacy that suits the music, and the recording quality allows all this transparent peacefulness to shine through.
Those familiar with Arvo Pärt or John Tavener's slow-moving, spiritual style should find this work quite rewarding. (Note to prospective Gorecki fans: his style is eclectic, and not all of his work is as placid as this piece.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melancholic Prime, Jan. 4 2001
By 
Jeremy Whitman (Lafayette, Louisiana United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Symphony No. 3 (Audio CD)
For quite some time, this has been one of my most played albums. Henryk Gorecki certainly possesses the power to pen some very moving, albiet dreary symphonies, while disregarding the bouncy aesthetics of most composers, and, in turn, utilizing more emotion and less pretense. What words would be best used to describe such a piece? Brilliant, yes. Sorrowful, definitely.
I actually prefer this version of the symphony more than any others I've heard, as the really slow tempo enhances the overall power of the piece. A clean recording and wonderful presentations also compliment the music within, as well as some terrific linear notes that provide both information on the composer and "The Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs", Symphony no. 3.
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5.0 out of 5 stars an emotional masterwork, June 27 2004
By 
I. Sondel "I. Sondel - lover of the arts" (Tallahassee, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Symphony #3 (Audio CD)
I'm a huge fan of Dawn Upshaw and bought this CD without knowing anything about it. I'll admit that I wasn't blown away by it - at first. I thought: what is this? However, I found myself drawn to it again and again. Now I find myself becoming increasingly emotional while listening to it. It's very affecting music. Upshaw's voice seems a gift from Heaven. Buy it - listen to it - give it an opportunity to soak in - you'll come to cherish it. I did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, April 19 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Symphony #3 (Audio CD)
When I first picked out this CD at a local library, I thought I was being very brave. I had never heard of Henryk Gorecki, and his symphony was dated from 1976. I prepared to listen to some really strange avant garde music, and after hearing the basses and cellos "drone on" for 5 minutes, I thought this was minimalism at its worst. I decided to be patient enough to finish listening to the first movement. I found myself listening to the rest of the entire symphony, wanting to hear it again.
Although(and because) it is extremely slow and repetitious, this symphony will have a memorable effect on you the first time you listen to it. Unlike other music which you have to listen to several times before you come to enjoy it, this piece will immediately get to you. It is so different from any music I have ever heard, yet so easy to understand. Also, the soprano sings Polish, which I think is the perfect language to use for this symphony. It fits the mood of the music perfectly, and is penetrating due to its beautiful use of consonants.
I proudly recommend this music to everyone who is willing to listen to a new kind of music, and say that if this symphony indeed crosses my boundaries of musical tolerance by employing minimalism and tone clusters, it is a grand exception.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally heartwrenching!, March 1 2004
By 
Shari Hoover (New Haven, IN USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Symphony #3 (Audio CD)
I first heard this music on NPR and sat at my desk at work weeping. I called the station and they told me they always received the most calls after they played it from people like me yearning to purchase it. I did just that and never tire of it. I can feel my heart stretching in anguish and sorrow for those that suffered through the horrible times of the holocaust. This is one of the most perfect pieces of music-one that can touch your soul and make you feel pain and redemption at the same time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What is music really about?, Feb. 18 2004
By 
A. Reader (Boise, Idaho United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Symphony #3 (Audio CD)
There are people who will hate this cd, and people who will love it. It all depends on what music is about. Personally, I bought this cd on a whim, having never heard of Gorecki and being less than fond of soprano soloists in general. If music is about technique and style and details, then perhaps you will be disappointed in this cd. If music is about touching something--a feeling, a memory, a thought--inside the listener, if music is about the expression of emotion, then listen to this cd. The words are in Polish, and I have never cared what they meant--the music means different things to me each time I hear it. Sometimes it's about loneliness, or about sadness, sometimes it's about finding the will to live on through tragedy, and sometimes it's about nothing at all. When Dawn Upshaw's voice soars in the second movement, I can close my eyes and appreciate the power of the music and her voice and that particular moment in time. Is it the greatest music ever written--probably not. But if music touches something deep inside you, isn't that what greatness is about?
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Symphony #3
Symphony #3 by Henryk Gorecki (Audio CD - 1992)
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