Gorecki: Symphony No. 1 (1959); Choros I; Three Pieces in the Old Style

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LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Symphony No. 1 (1959); Choros I; Three Pieces in the Old Style
PERFORMER: Kraków PO/Roland Bader
Lovers of Górecki’s Third Symphony, beware: the composer’s First Symphony (scored largely for strings and percussion) inhabits another world. The rather suspect booklet notes argue the work’s significance in the composer’s move away from ‘that primarily intellectual vein of music then represented above all by Pierre Boulez’. But there’s no getting away from it: even this symphony’s first movement, with its huge string chords and relative emotional directness, is quite abrasive in manner as well as serial in structure, while the remaining three movements are essentially second-hand pointillism.


The other two compositions here, both for strings alone, are likewise rather unsuccessful examples from the time when the still young Górecki was trying to establish his own style. Choros I (1964) is a rather dull representative of the Polish ‘texture music’ typical of the period. The short Three Pieces in the Old Style (1963) are closer to the Third Symphony; but the mystic visions of the outer pieces are spoilt by the sub-Vaughan Williams ‘rum-ti-tum’ of the middle one. If you’re interested in early Górecki, try Scontri or Refren instead. Keith Potter