Like the poetry of Wallace Stevens, Henryck GÃ³recki 's music seems cerebral almost to the point of insularity. Stevens wrote: "Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves." Of course, no art exists in a vacuum, carrying as it does an... [more]
Like the poetry of Wallace Stevens, Henryck GÃ³recki 's music seems cerebral almost to the point of insularity. Stevens wrote: "Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves." Of course, no art exists in a vacuum, carrying as it does an inherent quality of communication. Yet, there are those artists who, through their use of symbolism, create an atmosphere that leads to a profound sense of contemplation and loneliness. These artists accompany us, like Dante's Virgil, to the deepest ramparts of our own being. It is here where our faith lies, the most private of human dwellings.
Walking alone in a forest conveys this sense. Long limbs lazily blowing in the wind, creating a latticed pattern across the gray sky. There's snow on the ground, muting all sounds save that of one's own boots crunching the white fabric. GÃ³recki, who hails from southern Poland, looks to these aspects of his native landscape for inspiration.
However, GÃ³recki looks to other sources besides nature. The Catholic composer, in the great European tradition, employs his imagination to invoke God. Here again is faith: GÃ³recki paints a musical landscape that thrusts us into lonely spirituality. Take his 1976 "Symphony No. 3," subtitled, "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs." The piece repeats through three movements, all in lento, evoking a universe of anguish. Though simple, the music contains many subtleties of variation and orchestration through color and stillness. GÃ³recki can't exactly be called a Minimalist.
Then there are women's voices, stretching into the piece as if from a cloud's balcony. In the first movement, it's the voice of a fifteenth-century Mary, lamenting the death of her son. We then move on to a prayer as written on the wall of a Gestapo prison. In the third movement, GÃ³recki presents a plangent folk tune from the Opole region. The piece was originally commissioned in 1967 for the opening of a memorial at Auschwitz. GÃ³recki, too involved with its genesis, never finished it for the occasion. Upon its completion nine years later, this piece catapulted him to international recognition.
Why, in a time of increasing atheism, does his music resonate with us? Why, when it employs many indigenous aspects of Poland, does it speak to the world over? Perhaps the answer lies in its mysticism. While looking back to Europe's long tradition of religious music, GÃ³recki also moves beyond, presenting an architectural scale that reflects our very contemporary spiritual landscape. Along with composers Arvo Part and John Talender, GÃ³recki stretches the thread of modern music in a very hypnotic and mesmeric direction. [show less]