Monday, 16 January 2017

Henryk Górecki ‎- The Essential Górecki (1993 compi of works 1958-69, rec. '67/'69)

Strictly speaking, we had the truly essential Górecki just under a year ago with the premiere recording of his his 3rd symphony, but this early stuff is a different beast entirely, and well worth hearing.  I have wondered since getting this disc if anyone in 1993 was fooled into thinking it would be another nice, melancholy companion to the Nonesuch/Dawn Upshaw Third, and getting a rude awakening with what lay beneath that deceptive album cover above...

This CD, then, is Essential - in giving a neat portrait of the angry young Górecki carving out his early style in the late 50s through to late 60s.  These first four pieces were released on LP in 1967, and include the huge blocks of oddly-scored sounds collapsing into each other of Zderzenia-Scontri (Collisions) (1960), setting the stage for the Polish school of sonorism over the next decade.  Genesis II (1962) is an even more explosive work that brings prime early Xenakis to mind, with its opening air-raid glissando collapsing into scratches and scrapes before the whole ensemble kick in.
Selected Compositions LP, Poland 1967 (tracks 1-4 on Essential CD)
Refren (1965) shows Górecki's style gradually maturing, and starting to point the way towards the 3rd symphony a decade later.  Lastly, to fill out this compilation we get 27 minutes of Muzyka Staropolska (Old Polish Music) (1969), in its premiere recording - fascinating stuff, with its recurring brass fanfare glueing it together and combining old folk melodies in a great modernist whole, not unlike Three Pieces In The Old Style.

Polskie Nagrania Muza

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