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Customer Reviews

Intense, beautiful, and disturbing

This CD is an absolute steal at the current price. The works within contain numerous surprises of harmony, dissonance, orchestral, and choral music. Though, as everyone knows, the Polish composer Górecki (now in his seventies) attained international fame with his 3rd Symphony, his skill as a composer receives an ominous display on this disc.

The second symphony, written to mark Nicolaus Copernicus' 500th birthday in 1972, contains just as much emotion as Górecki's far more popular third symphony. But it's not too difficult to figure out why the second didn't make the charts: the first movement blares out a rhythmic hammer blow timpanic cacophony. It conjures up images of huge objects inexorably shifting and changing while the helpless listener sits in raptured awe. The music of the planets shifting, descending, or presenting themselves in full view slaps the listener right in the cochleas. It's not restful nor peaceful: it's disturbing. Here lies a representation of what the Copernican revolution of the 15th century might have felt like: Pregnant with strife, doubt, challenges, accusations, violent arguments, heresy, the very dignity of humankind at stake. No serenity, no calm summer day. A revolution is underway. The entrance of the choir towards the end of the movement provides a knock-down sonic experience. Something unavoidable has happened and the listener gets transported to that experience.

By startling contrast, the second movement provides the listener with a calm, peaceful, heartbreakingly beautiful landscape with which to ponder the violence that preceded it. Fans of Górecki's Third symphony will likely love this movement. Copernicus' own words float above the bubbling strings which wax and wane with intensity. The movement fades out slowly and almost silently. A relaxation of almost insurmountable tension fills the relatively harmonic and lovely second movement. Apparently the happening of the first movement has ended peacefully.

This symphony presents challenges that the third doesn't touch. The range of emotions is startling and even unnerving at times. The juxtaposition of the two movements creates deep meaning. Add to this a monumental historical event and a great symphony emerges. It also points the way towards the Third (finished some four years later in 1976).

"Beatus Vir" from 1979 opens the disc with over 30 minutes of gorgeous vocal work. It doesn't contain the dissonance of the second symphony, but the intensity rises and falls in a similar manner. The entire disc sounds classical yet modern. The music demonstrates simplicity, beauty, complexity, and meaning. One listen will not reveal all this music has to offer.

Górecki apparently deserves the acclaim he had garnered for his compositional skills. This very very very low-priced CD will leave listeners wanting more from one of our greatest living composers.

Terrifying and beautiful!!!

Pure Genius!!!


Born: February 7, 1944 in Cracow, Poland

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the latter quarter of the twentieth century, Antoni Wit was often called by critics one of the most underrated conductors of his time. Indeed, he had numerous acclaimed recordings to his credit and held distinguished conducting posts in Poland, but remained largely little known until the new century. Perhaps he had unwittingly impeded his career by championing the music of many contemporary Polish composers: Penderecki, Wojciech Kilar, Krysztof Meyer, Eugeniusz Knapik, and a long list of others....
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Gorecki: Symphony No. 2 'Copernican' - Beatus Vir, Antoni Wit
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