Thursday, January 05, 2006

Lento E Largo - Symphony # 3 -Henryk Gorecki


How can one construct a sincere expression of mourning? It is one of the most difficult things to do, I expect. To compose an authentic expression of sadness and to be able to convey that authenticity to the listener- that will never cease to amaze me. 19th century diminished harmonies and loud minor chords aren’t going to do it these days, they're hackneyed, melodramatic and as insincere as any music can sound. It wasn’t clichéd in Chopin’s time, but today, thousands of movies later, it is.

still, quiet, sweet and expressive as hell. This is very simple, very elegantly sad music. Those lush chords in a very tight musical format- one could imagine Ravel's hand was in this... Speaking of which, Ravel was quite the master of understated emotion. Works like Petit Poucet from Ma mère l'oye or the Minuet from Le Tombeau de Couperin express so much sorrow in so few notes and with great simplicity, not unlike this particular movement. Here, Gorecki has constructed some genuinely tragic music, stripped of any histrionics or artificiality.

7 comments:

moondial said...

"very elegantly sad music" -- indeed.

Re: the painting(?), yours?

Bryant Manning said...

I have that piece. Maybe I'll play it Sunday night.

PWS said...

Not to be the "snob", but I hate this piece with a passion and not just because it's "popular". Gorecki is one of those composers, along with some Glass,Taverner and Nyman, who make classical music for the Soccer Mom Sophisticate to listen to in her bath. No depth, just lots of nonsense sensuous moaning and groaning.

M. Keiser said...

Painting? you mean the photograph? its just a shot one of my friends took of the forests in the mountains.

PWS said...

Holy dang that's a good picture. Very pretty. I am spending all my days now thinking about the idea of "forest music" which I plan to make my compositional niche. I am serious. If I start composing seriously again-I will write forest music. Imagine Berg, Dutilleux, Saariaho, Schreker and Tallis combined into a canopy of sound. This is my goal.

Oh and I responded to your thingy bob.

Trevor Murphy said...

Gorecki is an okay composer - I don't go out of my way to hear his music, but it doesn't actively piss me off like, say, some Carter orchestra pieces can. So, I gots nothing against the guy.

That being said, I think the soccer mom thing holds water. In the early '90s Gorecki was being touted as the Guy Who Was Writing Classical Music That Wasn't Ugly. He got a lot of publicity: life-size cardboard cutouts in the classical section of Tower Records, profiles in magazines, etc. I think the major record labels were looking for composers like him and John Corigliano to fill the niche of 'accessible' classical music, and Holocaust anniversary pieces and AIDS quilt symphonies made for good newspaper copy. As a result, these are the composers that casual soccer moms know- there are better living composers, but unless they get busy writing some music for horrible tragedies, they're never going to get noticed. My oratorio about the Flesh-Eating Bacteria wasn't my ticket to the big time, but I'm thinking this Bird Flu Sinfonietta has real potential.

Anonymous said...

'Soccer Mom Sophisticate'?

Get over yourself you pretentious cow.