I was so excited when this album came out a few years ago. Kilar's non-film music is very hard to come by and his return to concert music after spending most of his career in film music is welcome.
Kilar wrote two symphonies when he was young in the 1950s. So this symphony, September Symphony, is actually Symphony No.3 (he has since written Symphony No.4 "Symphony of Motion" and Symphony No.5 "Advent Symphony" as he is now in his 70s and in his words has no more time for music not of a singular authorship (meaning no more film music).
Many composers had reactions to the 9/11 tragedy in New York. Kilar is not unique in that regard but I assert that this symphony is the most effective artistic testament to that event.
The first movement begins with two falling figures in the brass, then an immediate shroud of darkness in thick chords in the strings. The second movement, acting as the scherzo, is a straight-forward grotesquerie. This all leads to the heart of the symphony, the third movement. In it, some have considered it being problematic because of the obvious Americana quotations. I don't consider that a problem at all. It begins with a somber canon which grows and swells until an unbearable climax when we again hears the towers falling with the descending brass figures from the beginning of the symphony. It's incredibly cathartic and it subsides to reveal blue sky of harp and piano with a small quotation, an allusion to America the Beautiful on celeste. The Americana concludes in the fourth movement which actually gets sorts of upbeat and glorious at the end. I've always considered that movement a denouement and a requisite afterthought to the larger statement of the work. In any case, I believe this work to be a masterpiece.
Most people in the US market, if they have ever heard of Wojciech Kilar it's because of his debut in the US film music world for Francis Ford Coppola's DRACULA. As important and influential as that score was, it came very late in Kilar's career which in truth was spent mostly in film work and mostly in Europe. However, though he is less famous than his concert hall contemporaries Penderecki and Gorecki, Kilar's signature sound has been intensely dark and horrifying just like his film music. As he's retired from film music, we're being treated to more concert work including his effective Missa Pro Pace, Piano Concerto, and other works available from Naxos and Polish labels.