Behind the continuing appeal of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3

Posted on: March 28, 2019

“Something weird happened in the UK album chart” in 1993, writes Phil Hebblethwaite in Wednesday’s (3/27) (U.K.). “A piece of contemporary classical music that had inexplicably made it into the Top 40 the week before shot up to No. 8…. The album—a recording of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 by the London Sinfonietta with soprano Dawn Upshaw, conducted by David Zinman … wasn’t an obvious pop hit….. The melancholy, three-movement work concerns ‘the great grief and lamenting of a mother who has lost her son,’ Górecki said…. The Polish text … was taken from … a 15th-century lament of Mary, mother of Jesus; a prayer-like message inscribed on the wall of a Gestapo jail cell by a teenage girl during World War II; and a Silesian folk song. To listeners … Symphony No. 3 … seemed to provide spiritual respite from complicated political and societal change…. Domino Records … are … releasing a new, live version of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 with Portishead’s Beth Gibbons on vocal duties … with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki…. After the piece became a hit [Górecki said] he was delighted that, ‘Perhaps people find something they need in this piece of music.’ ”

Posted March 28, 2019