GÓRECKI Symphony No 3 'Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’
My first, instinctive, impression of the first movement in this live recording – made in 1995 – was that it was too fast. But the earthy yet precise sound of Górecki’s monumental canon for strings gripped me almost immediately (I had never before considered how this work might sound on period instruments …). Boreyko drives the music hard, certainly, but the last thing he does is skimp on detail. There is, in fact, a sculpted precision to the sound that I have not heard in any other recording. The tension before the entry of the solo soprano has you on the edge of your seat, and Ewa Iżykowska does not disappoint: she has that magnificent rich sound that only Polish sopranos seem to be able to muster, her sound only enhanced against the almost vibrato-free strings. I have never heard better than Stefania Woytowicz for Bour – she was the soloist at the first performance – but Iżykowska is her equal. Dawn Upshaw does not come close.
The orchestra’s clarity of sound and precision of articulation also serves the opening of the second movement well, and not only is Iżykowska’s lower register much darker than one would expect but her ascent to higher regions is of an extraordinary subtlety. Boreyko is masterly in sustaining the tension throughout the movement, right to the almost motionless final chords. In contrast to the first, the third movement initially seemed to me slightly too slow, but Boreyko knows exactly what he is doing – again, the tension never flags and the pacing is exactly right – and Iżykowska is simply superb, perfectly at one with the orchestra.
If you have not already guessed, I was in tears almost throughout the disc. Even if you have every other recording of this work in the catalogue, you should still buy this one. It is a masterly performance of a masterpiece.