Conductor Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Record Gorecki's Third Symphony With Soprano Christine Brewer
A new recording of one of the most surprising popular hits in the orchestral repertoire, Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, Op. 36, is set for release by Telarc. Featuring Donald Runnicles conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with soprano Christine Brewer, the CD was recorded live at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center in June 2008 following acclaimed performances in May.
“Any new recording with the Atlanta Symphony is quite special to me,” said Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles. “Working also with my dear friend Christine Brewer is one of my greatest joys, particularly on such a profoundly spiritual piece as the Górecki. Christine and I treasure a long history of collaboration, and we look forward to sharing this new adventure with audiences worldwide.”
Written in 1976, the symphony, which is also known as the “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,” is a setting of three Polish texts with the theme of separation through war: The first is a 15th century Polish lament in which Mary speaks to her son Jesus as he is dying; the second is a message written on the wall of a Gestapo cell by a teenage girl during the Second World War; and the third is a folk song in which a mother grieves for her son killed in the Silesian uprisings.
The symphony marked a change in compositional style for Górecki, who was previously identified as a member of the modernist wing of European music that was prone to compositions constructed of clashing sound masses and serially ordered elements. The symphony’s simplicity, chant-like melodic nature and largely consonant harmonies took many listeners and critics by surprise. The symphony also became an unexpected crossover hit record when a 1992 recording by soprano Dawn Upshaw and David Zinman and the London Sinfonietta was embraced by record buyers. The recording sold more than a million copies and climbed to the top of the classical music charts in both the U.S. and the U.K. It also reached number six on the mainstream U.K. album chart.
Besides its many concert performances, the symphony has also been choreographed for dance companies, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic presented a staged version of the work in 2007. It has also been used on numerous soundtracks including Peter Weir’s Fearless, Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat and an episode of HBO’s The Sopranos.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s performances of Górecki’s Third Symphony in May 2008 were presented as a “Theater of a Concert” production enhanced by lighting effects and visuals by Anne Patterson and Adam Larsen and conducted by the ASO’s Principle Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles. Mr. Runnicles was recently named General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony, effective in 2009, has been Music Director and Principal Conductor of the San Francisco Opera since 1992, and is Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming.
Soloist Christine Brewer is a GRAMMY® Award-winning American soprano whose appearances in opera, concert and recital are marked with her own unique timbre, at once warm and brilliant, combined with a vibrant personality and emotional honesty.