Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Henryk Górecki
WORKS: Little Requiem for a Certain Polka;, Op. 66; Concerto-Cantata, Op. 65; Harpsichord Concerto, Op. 40 (version for piano and orchestra); Three Dances, Op. 34
PERFORMER: Anna Gorecka (piano), Carol Wincenc (flute); Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit


The ferocity of the folk-tinged first and third of the Three Dances (1973) recalls Bartók and Stravinsky. The bustling ostinatos that open the first dance, competing with stabbing chords, pre-echo the closing bars of the third, which climax with pounding chords. The second is quiet and tranquil, but with an edge of unease.

The brief, busy two-movement Harpsichord Concerto (1980) is presented here in a piano transcription. It has been seen as a satire on post-modernism, with its quasi-neo-classical passages and elements suggesting a dig at minimal music. The first movement develops towards a passage of harmonic conflict, which resolves into a consonant, long-held chord from which the second launches with insistent, finger-busting figures for the soloist.

The Concerto-Cantata (1992) receives its premiere recording here, and the Warsaw Philharmonic does it full justice, playing equally convincingly and intensely in the severe, concentrated slow sections and the all-out loud and fast episodes. Carol Wincenc plays the prominent flute part expressively, as much when merged with (and ranged against) the orchestra in full cry as in the extended, contemplative solo passages.

The Little Requiem (1993) is sometimes sparse and reflective, sometimes violent and bleak, sometimes comical and exuberant, but always riveting.


Barry Witherden