This morning, Ray put on Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 for us to listen to as we worked in the living room. Within minutes, Ray was sniffing and I had tears running down my cheeks. This music, which is also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, is so beautiful that it literally will make you weep.
Gorecki, who was Polish, wrote this symphony is 1976 and it is composed of three movements, each featuring a solo soprano. Each movement is about the relationship of a mother with her child. The first centers on Mary, the mother of Jesus and is a lamentation from the “Lysagora Songs” collection of the Holy Cross Monastery in the second half of the 15th century. The second is a daughter’s prayer to her mother inscribed on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II. The third is a folk song from the Opole region of Poland called Silesian and is about a mother searching for her son who has been killed in an uprising against the Germans. These uprisings occurred between 1919 and 1921. Each is hauntingly beautiful even without being able to understand the words, which are in Polish.
This recording was released in 1992 and features the London Sinfonietta conducted by David Zinman. Dawn Upshaw is the soprano soloist. Anyone familiar with Ms. Upshaw knows she has one of the purest soprano voices on earth.
I have included the recording below. There is a slow build-up, but it is well worth the wait. You may find yourself tearing up – or not – but in either case, I believe you will find this music gorgeously evocative.