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Górecki: Symphony No. 2 Copernican; Beatus Vir

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 17, 2001
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Product Details

  • Performer: Zofia Kilanowicz, Andrzej Dobber, Silesian Philharmonic Choir
  • Orchestra: Polish Radio Orchestra & Chorus Katowice
  • Conductor: Antoni Wit
  • Composer: Henryk Gorecki
  • Audio CD (April 17, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • Run Time: 68 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005A7KC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,330 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This CD is an absolute steal at the current price. The works within contain numerous surprises of harmony, dissonance, orchestral, and choral music. Though, as everyone knows, the Polish composer G'órecki (now in his seventies) attained international fame with his 3rd Symphony, his skill as a composer receives an ominous display on this disc.

The second symphony, written to mark Nicolaus Copernicus' 500th birthday in 1972, contains just as much emotion as Gó'recki's far more popular third symphony. But it's not too difficult to figure out why the second didn't make the charts: the first movement blares out a rhythmic hammer blow timpanic cacophony. It conjures up images of huge objects inexorably shifting and changing while the helpless listener sits in raptured awe. The music of the planets shifting, descending, or presenting themselves in full view slaps the listener right in the cochleas. It's not restful nor peaceful: it's disturbing. Here lies a representation of what the Copernican revolution of the 15th century might have felt like: Pregnant with strife, doubt, challenges, accusations, violent arguments, heresy, the very dignity of humankind at stake. No serenity, no calm summer day. A revolution is underway. The entrance of the choir towards the end of the movement provides a knock-down sonic experience. Something unavoidable has happened and the listener gets transported to that experience.

By startling contrast, the second movement provides the listener with a calm, peaceful, heartbreakingly beautiful landscape with which to ponder the violence that preceded it. Fans of Gó'recki's Third symphony will likely love this movement. Copernicus' own words float above the bubbling strings which wax and wane with intensity.
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Format: Audio CD
As is often the case when a piece of classical music "catches on with the public" the composer is disregarded by the cognescenti as "too accessible" at best, or "banal" at worst. Such is the case of Gorecki who surprised the world when his 'Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (#3)' became a best selling album some 10 years ago in the hands of David Zinman and Dawn Upshaw. Rarely has a contemporary classical piece has such an immediate and persistent positive effect on the consuming public. Yes, other composers' works have now become part of many movie scores (Barber's 'Adagio for Strings', Orff's 'Carmina Burana', Albioni's plagent music for organ and strings to mention only a few), but Gorecki's Symphony rose in popularity because it spoke directly to the heart of a saddened world without the need for visual distractions on film. Now we are finally able to hear more of Gorecki's earlier works, music that is more demanding of the listener but equally as satisfying to the need to give utterances to the unutterable.
His Symphony #2 is subtitled 'Copernican' because it seeks to musically explore the universe as seen by Polish astronomer Copernicus who forever changed man's view of the universe. Having been introduced to this symphony live in a concert hall in Amsterdam I was at first disappointed by the lack of spaciousness when the massive sound blocks of Gorecki are confined to this disc. But repeated hearings dispell that problem as the magnitude of the music simply takes over without overwhelming. The first movement is typical Gorecki blocks of sound moving slowly as though they seem at the core of something that is to come.
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Format: Audio CD
Most people, I suspect, are familiar with Gorecki through his 3rd Symphony. His 2nd is not quite as accesible as the 3rd, but is quite rewarding in its own way. A touch more dissonant, perhaps, but it contains a lot of the same slowly building sequences and gradually increasing dynamics. It's definitely music that should be paid attention to as opposed to played in the background. The performance is quite competent and somewhat idomatically Polish. Although the sound is not always perfect and the performance is occasionally shaky, this disc is great value for money and an excellent choice for people interested in further exploring Gorecki's orchestral writing.
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Format: Audio CD
"Beatus Vir", 1979, after the election of Pope John Paul II, the first Polish Pope, the first non-Italian Pope for quite a long time. This fundamental work is supposed to express through some verses chosen in the Psalms the full confidence and trust of man in God. That was a time when Poland had to live through several difficult periods, and even one full decade of agitation, submission or resistance. The communist order was running on its very last leg and the road had not been paved lately, so the trip to the gate out of this pseudo-socialism was rough, chaotic and definitely full of discomfort and pain. This "Beatus Vir" expresses this atmosphere, this desire and dream that was no promise in 1979 though it was an absolute certainty. The choice of a baritone to sing these verses is one of the best choices that could be made. It is deep enough to reverberate with the suffering and the sadness of reality. And yet it is not too deep to become unfathomable and desperate. The choir of course provides the baritone with the deep and versatile forest of life, of a life under some kind of limited freedom. And it creates the continuo the baritone needs to go up and reach the sky of hope and the future. At times, for instance with "Domine Deus meus es tu", Gorecki recreates some of the darkest pages of Bach's "Saint John's Passion", and yet you can feel a modernity that was not present in Bach's music. The modernity of the holocaust, of the sudden realization that there is no truth left, nothing but points of view, no search possible for truth, only the cultivation of our points of view in self-righteousness and absolute tolerance and cooperation.Read more ›
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