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Gorecki: Church Songs, Op. 84

Gorecki: Church Songs, Op. 84

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Henryk Mikolaj Górecki (1933–2010) achieved an international success in the mid-1990s, with his Symphony No. 3, “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”. Since then, Górecki’s name has been associated almost exclusively with this piece. However, his music is much more than this one brilliant work. Górecki never looked at musical fashions, but consistently created his own sound universe. In the 1980s Górecki, feeling misunderstood, stepped back from the official concert life in Poland. He reached out to simple folk and church melodies, making their choral arrangements. He treated them with a great devotion and humility. In 1985, the composer drew on traditional church songs collected in the 19th-century Spiewnik koscielny (Church Songbook) by Jan Siedlecki. He first selected five songs from it, which made up the cycle of five Marian Songs, Op. 54, for mixed choir a cappella. A year later, Górecki decided to compile other church songs of various character and associated with different liturgical seasons. This led to a collection of twenty Church Songs for a cappella choir today known as his Op. 84. Apart from two, the songs were not published during composer’s lifetime. This album by the Polish Chamber Choir led by Jan Lukaszewski offers this choral gem for the first time sang in Latin.


Mostly dating from 1986 but published in 2013, three years after the composer’s death, these 20 pieces range from between one and almost 13 minutes in duration. Recorded in Latin for the first time, they have a consoling lilt and occasionally (as in ‘Sicut parvi amplectamur’) dance along gently; ‘Beati qui eligunt Joseph’ is a rare example of a more striking harmonic treatment. Under its conductor of 40 years’ standing, Jan Łukaszewski, the Gdańsk-based Polish Chamber Choir produces beautifully smooth and glowing tone. The overall effect is sweet, like eating too much sernik (Polish cheesecake) and washing it down with communion wine.

-- BBC Music Magazine

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 2
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Ondine
    • UPC/Barcode: 0761195142820
    • Item Number: ODE 1428-2D