The devastation of Europe, and notably the eastern stretches, through
the forties gave artists of whatever discipline they pursued a climate which
they either resisted or not according to their circumstances and inner strength.
Regardless of such personal decisions, as artists they suffered with everybody
else the harshness of conditions and the miseries of daily living.
Therefore, a generation of creative people who reached maturity after
the formal end of the war had a heavy burden of seared feelings with which
to attempt a reconciliation of war and peace, and the necessity of searching
within themselves for a spark to rekindle the flame that was their gift
as an artist.
Polish composer Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, born in 1933, was in the
grip of revolutionary musical ideas as World War II ceased and life staggered
to its feet to find means of survival. By the early sixties Górecki
was enthralled with musical elements used in different ways, especially
in the interaction of time, space, and material shaped for a deliberate
slowness of development. This was maximum to minimum, of which there came
a worldwide following generating new ideas, and quite a few bad ones as
This record contains Górecki's
Miserere of 1981, Totus tuus of 1987 and Choros I for 56 strings
of 1964. The string work as the earliest of the three, uses a wider
stretch of canvas with monochrome to garish colours. [listen
- track 2, 15:52-17:00.] Motion is part of the construction as
well as developments. The ear is busy absorbing the interaction of elements,
so there is a path and we perceive the music in transit.
With voices alone the parameters change inevitably to accommodate vocal
mannerisms created out of the range of possibilities. And these two works
are 20 years later than Choros. Górecki moved on to a stronger
conception of the language he had chosen, therefore stood a greater chance
of involving the listener in the experience. [listen
- track 1, 3:19-4:14.]
His compatriots are extremely convincing in their presentation here of
what they undoubtedly feel. Without it Górecki's musical language
would shrivel to nothing, and we would be deprived of a composer remote
from the usual run of things.
Copyright © 9 February 2000 by Basil
Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK
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