WORKS: Three Pieces in Old Style; Kleines Requiem für eine Polka; Good Night
PERFORMER: Elzbieta Szmytka (soprano)Paul Edmund-Davies (alto flute) Mireille Gleizes (piano) Huub Righarts (percussion); I Fiamminghi/Rudolf Werthen
CATALOGUE NO: CD-80417
I Fiamminghi has strong competition: Kleines Requiem für eine Polka and Good Night, the most substantial works here, are available on a Nonesuch disc by the London Sinfonietta, and recordings of the Three Pieces in Old Style are numerous. The abbey acoustic chosen by this Belgian group, however, suits Górecki’s predominantly slow, ritualistic music very well. In Kleines Requiem für eine Polka, reverberation adds grandeur and pathos to the outer movements. Inevitably, the fast music in the middle ones has its edges blunted, and the Belgians don’t possess either the finesse of the Sinfonietta or the swagger of the Dutch Schönberg Ensemble (on Philips). But resonance adds extra manic meaning to the second movement’s trumpet fanfares. There are few experiences more moving than hearing Górecki’s chamber music in a church late at night. The recording of Good Night – his memorial for Michael Vyner, scored for soprano, alto flute, piano and, at the end of the last three movements, three tam-tams – recreates that experience for a work which only raises its volume twice in 25 minutes.