Gorecki: String quartets (Naxos)

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Ever wonder what Henryk Mikolaj Górecki did before he hit the jackpot with that million-selling third symphony?

The sage of Katowice never stuck to any doctrine or style, allowing himself to develop from modernism to minimalism and all points between. His first string quartet, commissioned by Kronos in 1988, is titled ‘Already it is dusk’ and appears to lament the dying day in meditative fragments, as if to suggest that nothing is ever finished.

The second quartet, written three years later, bears the title ‘Quasi una fantasia’ and emerges slowly, hypnotically, from the simplest of themes. In between the two, you can experience the 12-minute adrenalin rush of Elementi for string trio, a work which is so fanatically 1960s it could almost pass for white noise. You’d never mistake it for one of Gorecki’s greatest hits and it will never get played on Snooze Classics FM.

I really like these performances by the Tippett Quartet, less emphatic and showbizzy than the Kronos version, allowing the music to find its inner rhythm. Recorded in an English country church, it sounds just right.

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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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