Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs in Athens


Last night I had the chance to listen live to one of my favourite contemporary works, Henryk Górecki's Symphony No.3, The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

At Wiki we read:

Symphony No. 3, Op. 36, also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Polish: Symfonia pieśni żałosnych), is a symphony in three movements composed by Henryk Górecki in Katowice, Poland, between October and December 1976. The work is indicative of the transition between Górecki's dissonant earlier manner and his more tonal later style.

A solo soprano sings a different Polish text in each of the three movements. The first is a 15th-century Polish lament of Mary, mother of Jesus, the second a message written on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II, and the third a Silesian folk song of mother searching for son killed in the Silesian uprisings. The first and third movements are written from the perspective of a parent who has lost a child, and the second movement from that of a child separated from a parent. The dominant themes of the symphony are motherhood and separation through war.

Until 1992, Górecki was known only to connoisseurs, primarily as one of several composers responsible for the postwar Polish music renaissance.
That year, Elektra-Nonesuch released a recording of the 15-year-old symphony that topped the classical charts in Britain and the United States. It has now sold more than a million copies, vastly exceeding the expected lifetime sales of a typical symphonic recording by a 20th-century composer. This success, however, has failed to generate interest in Górecki's other works.


Soprano Irini Kyriakidou shone in this amazing, minimalistic score. Beauty of tone, wonderfully shaped floating high notes, lotsa feeling. I wouldn't say the same for the Athens State Orchestra under maestro Alkis Baltas. Minimal music is all about details and short, perfectly shaped, repeated phrases with the strings being the protagonists in Górecki's score. But with an orchestra that has at it's disposal a second rate group of string players and is used to play like a big band instead of a symphony orchestra, we were already aware of what we would hear. (But who am I to judge). No wonder why the performances of the Athens State Orchestra are so disappointingly "deserted" by the athenian concert-goers. Once again, last night, there were about 150 people present (more or less) and most of them were friends and relatives. (Au contraire, the 2 concerts of the Wiener Symphoniker under Fabio Luisi with soloist Hélène Grimaud last weekend sold-out in a couple of hours. But no need to compare a real orchestra with the Athens State Orchestra).

It would be an omission not to mention that in the first part of the Concert, promising pianist (and blogger) Stefanos Nasos, played with the ASO the Concert for piano and orchestra "Man of Sorrows", a contemporary work by greek composer George Tsontakis. Not my cup of tea though.

Listen to Irini Kyriakidou and the Athens State Orchestra
Lento e largo—Tranquillissimo of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony.

Photos of Irini Kyriakidou from previous performances

3 comments:

spiretos72 said...

Δεν έχασα και πολλά πράγματα απ'ότι καταλαβα.

Πως ήταν το προηγούμενο σκ η συμφωνκή της Βιέννης;

Parsifal said...

Κοίτα, δεν έχω ποτέ μεγάλες προσδοκίες απο την ΚΟΑ. Ήθελα πάρα πολύ να ακούσω το έργο ζωντανά κ παρότι δε συνηθίζω να συχνάζω σε συναυλίες της ΚΟΑ (θου Κυριε) ομολογώ οτι τουλάχιστον αυτή τη φορά δεν ήταν ενοχλητικό το παίξιμο τους. Είναι κ το έργο τέτοιο. Αλλά βεβαίως εδώ αναδεικνύεται η λεπτομέρεια κ φυσικά αυτή επ ουδενί δεν τη διέθεταν...

Καημένε Jonas Kaufmann τι σου μελε να πάθεις. Μετά το φιάσκο της ΚΟΑ στη Φλέμινγκ τώρα θα φροντίσουν να καταστρέψουν κ το ρεσιτάλ ενός εκ των σημαντικότερων τενόρων της εποχής μας...

Orfeas said...

Και εσύ έλεγες ότι η Νίνο ήταν η πιο όμορφη γυναίκα επί σκηνής...