While there are many similarities between the music of Mikołaj Górecki and that of his father, Henryk, the younger Górecki has clearly (and in all likelihood, with a purpose) developed his own distinct sound, producing highly nuanced, interesting and compelling music. This title from the Polish DUX label contains the composer’s works for string orchestra. There are six pieces in all, including Three Intermezzos for two Clarinets and String Orchestra. The fine performances are by the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Sopot conducted by Wojciech Rajski.
Mikołaj Górecki was born in Katowice, Poland in 1971. Following years of study with his father at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, several years of formal training were spent in North America – Banff Alberta, Indiana University and McGill University in Montreal. Mikolaj Górecki now makes his home in Laredo Texas.
I would describe Mikołaj Górecki’s music as, within a modern context, tonal and melodic. The music can often be multi-tonal or contain tone clusters, and there are some unpredictable harmonic directions taken (not to mention some ambiguous locations), but the harmonic setting overall satisfies the ear’s desire for a tonal center. It can be lyrical, aggressive, playful or stringent. His ideas are quite original and engaging on many levels; his idiomatic writing for strings is very effective.
As happens so often with a great recording, I wish I could share so much of the music with you – if you enjoy the sample, I suggest you buy the album! The program opens with the Concerto Notturno for Violin and String Orchestra, with violin soloist Piotr Plawner. The opening movement is meltingly lovely, but alas, I don’t think it represents how dissonant the composer’s music can be. Instead, with the kind permission of Dux, I’ve supplied the third movement of this same work, which contains many examples of Górecki’s effective use of multi-tonality and tone clusters. This work, along with the Divertimento and especially Three Fragments for String Orchestra, I’ve enjoyed the most, but after listening to the entire hour of music many times, I don’t feel there’s a weak composition here, and am very interested in hearing more of Mikołaj Górecki’s music.
The Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Sopot was established by Wojciech Rajski in 1982 and consists of dynamic musicians, all of whom are soloists in their own right. Its typical sound – fire, precision and lightness or, to say it with others words, vitality, discipline and elegance – is praised by the critics worldwide.
Concerto Notturno for Violin and String Orchestra
1 I Lento 4:24
2 II Allegro 4:59
3 III Molto lento 5:31
Overture for String Orchestra (2000/2012)
4 Uwertura na orkiestrę smyczkową / Overture for String Orchestra (2000/2012) 8:53
Divertimento for String Orchestra (2009)
5 I Lento espressivo e legato 6:17
6 II Con moto, ma non tanto 3:43
7 III Allegro 3:44
Three Fragments for String Orchestra and Celesta ad lib. (1998)
8 I Lento. Sempre molto legato e molto cantabile 4:38
9 II Ritmico 2:18
10 III Lento 4:21
Three Intermezzos for two Clarinets and String Orchestra (1999)
11 I Animato 2:29
12 II Espressivo 4:30
13 III Molto animato 2:14
Farewell for String Orchestra (2009)
14 Pożegnanie na orkiestrę smyczkową / Farewell for String Orchestra (2009) 4:37
Mikołaj Górecki, composer
The son of legendary composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, composer Mikołaj Górecki is plenty accomplished in his own right. Born in Katowice, Poland, Górecki studied with his father at the Szymanowski Academy of Music before receiving his doctorate at Indiana University.
Rajski Wojciech, conductor
Between 1971 and 1981 Rajski held the position of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra in Poland and that of a leading conductor at the Bonn Orchestra of the Beethovenhalle in Germany.
Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Sopot
The Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Sopot was established by Wojciech Rajski in 1982 and consists of dynamic musicians, all of whom are soloists in their own right. Its typical sound – fire, precision and lightness or, to say it with others words, vitality, discipline and elegance – is praised by the critics world-wide.
Piotr Plawner, violin
Piotr Plawner is one of the most creative and talented violinists of the younger generation. “This young man is truly a phenomenon, a genius on the violin. His playing, into its last nuance, is fascinating. The interpretation of every phrase has been deliberated. Everything must be described in superlatives”, acclaimed the Stuttgarter Zeitung.
Jean-Marc Fessard, clarinet
Jean-Marc Fessard comes from the great tradition of the French clarinet school that he represented at the International Congress at Phoenix, USA. He holds a degree from the Conservatoire National de Musique in Paris, where he obtained the highest distinction for clarinet, bass clarinet, and chamber music, as well the Diplome Superieur.
Roman Widzszek, clarinet