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Gorecki: Symphony, No. 3, Opus 36

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Audio CD, May 5, 1992
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$14.20 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 15 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Symphony No. 3: I. Lento - Sostenuto Tranquillo Ma Cantabile26:47Album Only
listen  2. Symphony No. 3: II. Lento E Largo - Tranquillissimo 9:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Symphony No. 3: III. Lento - Cantablile Semplice17:09Album Only

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Frequently Bought Together

Gorecki: Symphony, No. 3, Opus 36 + Gorecki: Miserere + Gorecki: String Quartet No. 1, Already It Is Dusk; String Quartet No. 2, Quasi una Fantasia
Price for all three: $46.27

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Product Details

  • Performer: Dawn Upshaw
  • Orchestra: London Sinfonietta
  • Conductor: David Zinman
  • Composer: Henryk Gorecki
  • Audio CD (May 5, 1992)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Elektra Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000005J1C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (207 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,666 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Upshaw/London Symphony Orchestra. This recording went to the top of the Pop charts in England, and it's been at the top of our classical chart for 17 weeks last time we looked!

This album, which catapulted Polish composer Henryk Gorecki to into the international spotlight, takes texts born in pain and turns them into statements of affirmation through the use of music that ebbs and flows in mystic minimalism. The clear voice of soprano Dawn Upshaw, singing the Polish texts, is a large part of the success of this particular recording, but the music, contemporary without either dissonance or movie-music mawkishness, clarifies and uplifts the words. This is a moving and essential element of the modern repertoire. --Sarah Bryan Miller

Customer Reviews

The music and the words are moving.
Oposum in the Garden
I bought the CD today and as a huge classical music listener I can tell you that no single piece has ever affected me more.
Robert Thomas
A great 20th century piece of music.
R. W. Rasband

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 137 people found the following review helpful By Harvey on March 31, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 is a powerful, prayer-like setting of instrumental and vocal music. While considered a modern composer, the work is firmly rooted in the tonal world, often creating a mantra/meditative feel; the 1976 composition is as emotional today, as it was in its own time.

The subtitle "Sorrowful Songs" is lost a little in the Polish translation, where the sense of "Wordless song", "prayer and exhortation", and "elegiac and redemptive lullaby" are qualities involved in the literal translation. The unique orchestration (4 flutes, 2 piccolos, 4 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 4 trombones, harp, piano, and full string ensemble) give a full, rich, intimate, chamber sound, but the beauty of a solo soprano voice adds to the absolute quality of the instruments. In three movements, each conveys a prayer in a contrasting, yet peaceful manner. Ingeniously, the 26-minute first movement is dominated simply by a canon; based on a folk song, the tune is taken up by the double-basses in low tessitura, and each voice enters at a fifth. It begins rather muddy in the lower voices, but, the gently shifting, repetitious nature, as well as the natural crescendo (achieved by adding instruments and increasing register) comes to a powerful climax, of which the movement ends the opposite by subtracting voices. 13 minutes into the opening movement, the mood changes from the kaleidoscopic motion of shifting strings, to full chords, piano attacks, and a prayer sung by soprano over huge, lush string chords. The effects of the first movement are intriguing and intense, but highly satisfying. The nine-minute second movement's text was found on the wall of Cell No. 3 in "The Palace", a Gestapo's headquarters in Zakopane, written by an 18-year old imprisoned in 1944.
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117 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 25, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc is truly the best of both worlds: an amazingly cheap (cheap! not merely affordable) classical disc of a fascinating piece of musical magnificently performed. Despite the presence of premium priced versions of this haunting piece of music (as well as at least one other very good bargain version), Antoni Wit directing the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra manages to outshine the competition. I knew two previous versions of this before, the famous Nonesuch with David Zinman and Dawn Upshaw, and the Philips with Joanna Kozlowska undertaking the vocals.
I recommend this version over the alternatives for four reasons. First, the price is unbeatable. Second, I believe the performance is marginally better than its competitors. Third, the remarkable singing of Zofia Kilanowicz. Fourth, unlike some recordings of this symphony, the disc contains not only the symphony itself, but "Three Olden Style Pieces," which while not as interesting as the main piece are not without interest. In short, this disc features the best performance, is offered at the best price, and contains more music than its competitors.
I do want to question the logic behind one of the other reviews. A reviewer from Derbyshire has expressed his belief that this music is somehow intellectually inferior and that its effects can be as harmful as a drug. I'm sure this was meant hyperbolically, but even granting this, this seems to me to indicate some confusion. In fact, the point is confusedly made. He grants that in Ravel (in the Bolero, a piece that I like not only less than most of the rest of Ravel's corpus but far less than the Gorecki) repetition is effective, and also in Beethoven.
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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Niall Munnelly on December 9, 1999
Format: Audio CD
i think gorecki's third was released for the first time back in '92 or so. according to _the economist_, it outsold madonna and stayed at the top of the pop charts for a time unprecendented by any symphonic recording. it should come as no surprise, i suppose, that even the artists of the then-burgeoning u.k. techno scene (such as beaumont hannant and pentatonik) were namechecking or sampling outright the third symphony, and with good reason.
gorecki's third is, to quote one of my old professors, 'heartbreakingly beautiful'. the raw, emotive phrases make the hair stand on end; the grayest windy-city mornings assume redemptively tragic proportions when this is your soundtrack.
i prefer this version to every other that i've heard, including the much-hyped, but kinda flat, nonesuch version with dawn upshaw. i'm uncertain about squishy notions like 'national character', but this presentation, performed by polish citizens, eclipses the exercise-like renditions of their american and british counterparts in depth and power. each movement develops slowly, taking its time and giving the listener an opportunity to find the right headspace. wit or whoever recorded this performance also downplayed the unnecessary french horn lines and gave more attention to the piano - the result is a much more striking and poignant piece.
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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Karl Miller on May 28, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I certainly don't have the skills to write a critique of classical performances - but I know what sounds amazing to my own ears, and Gorecki's 3rd draws you in and captivates you like no other music I have ever heard.
The piece is broken down into three movements - Sostenuto Tranquillo Ma Cantabile opens the symphony - this portion is dominated by a 15th century Polish Prayer, sung by the ethereal Dawn Upshaw (with an incredible soprano voice), which is enveloped in strings that sound both maudlin and lush. The entire piece is incredibly soft, yet deeply stirring. This is the portion of #3 that is at the center of the movie "Fearless", one of a number of Hollywood productions that have used Gorecki's Third as a theme.
The Second and Third Movements ("Tranquillisiom and Cantabile Semplice) rework the central themes, and instrumentation of the First movement - Upshaw's heavenly vocals resurface in even more desperate pleas, and the strings slow in tempo, making the emotional effect of the piece even more stirring. One thing that is absolutely captivating about this piece is the way that the strings command your attention without being loud or overbearing.
It's impossible not to be deeply moved by Gorecki's Third. And this recording, with the London Symphony and the incredible Dawn Upshaw is an absolutely perfect recording.
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