Contemporary Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

The Portishead singer tackles a symphonic classic, available in Hi-Res 24-Bit on Qobuz.

Door Pierre-Yves Lascar | Video van de dag | 17 april 2019
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Qobuz

For Beth Gibbons’ big comeback, the singer of the group Portishead has the enjoyable (if not daunting) task of taking on not just any Polish classical music, but an iconic score from a minimalist style of Eastern Europe music composed by Arvo Pärt and Krzysztof Penderecki. Górecki’s Symphony No.3 known as “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” lasts for almost fifty-five minutes and is the most famous work of the Polish composer, born in 1933. Over twenty-five years ago, the sublime performance of the American Soprano Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta with David Zinman as conductor (released in 1992) gave this contemporary symphony international recognition and several million copies of the recording from the Nonesuch label were sold.

Beth Gibbons sings the soprano part here, reciting passages that express a mother’s love for her son in the first movement and a mother’s grief after losing her son in the last movement (most likely the same mother and son in both). The second part (Lento e largo) puts a prayer to the Virgin Mary into music in “Zdrowas Mario”, written by a prisoner, Helena Wanda Blażusiakówna, on the wall of her cell in the Gestapo’s headquarters in Zakopane, southern Poland.

Right from the very first note in this symphony, Górecki makes full use of the orchestra’s registers. From the deep bass of the strings which resonates – in a kind of blend between the orchestral tones in SibeliusSymphony No.4 and the wide scope encompassed in Rachmaninoff’s No.2 – to the high notes floating around at the beginning of the second movement. With the ambient, hypnotic and contemplative nature of the themes and atmospheres, it is unsurprising that Górecki No.3 appealed to the singer from Portishead who at the end of her last album, Third (2008), was moving already towards a more thoughtful and assertive style. Beth Gibbons fans in particular will love this.





LISTEN TO HENRYK GÓRECKI: SYMPHONY NO. 3 BY BETH GIBBONS THE POLISH NATIONAL RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA ON QOBUZ


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