Los Angeles Master Chorale / Grant Gershon

Górecki: Miserere

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AllMusic Review by

Among the Eastern European composers classified as Holy Minimalists, Henryk Górecki's music most closely adheres to the conventions of traditional choral writing. Apart from some pieces that use repetitive structures and characteristic minimalist harmonic patterns, his choral works could be taken for the work of more traditional 20th century composers, and some of the pieces on this album, especially a few of the Five Marian Songs, might even be mistaken for the work of late Romantic 19th century composers. The appeal of the album is broad enough to reach anyone who loves that repertoire, and not just fans of minimalism. All of the three (mostly) a cappella pieces, Lobgesang (2000), the multi-movement Miserere (1981), and the Marian Songs (1985), are warmly lyrical with lush, radiant harmonies. Górecki favors straightforward homophonic textures over complex contrapuntal writing. In spite of the album's title, Miserere, most of the music is not mournful but gently benevolent and optimistic. The music's tone is largely subdued, reverent, unhurried, and only occasionally blooms into ecstatic effusion, as in the eighth movement of the Miserere. Lobgesang differs from the others in that its conclusion is accompanied by a starry, ethereal xylophone solo, creating a transcendent, magical moment. Los Angeles Master Chorale, under the leadership of Grant Gershon, sings with gorgeously blended tone and sensitive, beautifully shaped phrasing. Decca's sound is topnotch: clean, spacious, immediate, and warmly ambient.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 07:50
Miserere, Op. 44
2 02:59
3 02:16
4 02:31
5 02:37
6 03:47
7 04:34
8 03:06
9 01:20
10 04:29
11 02:58
12 02:50
Piesni Maryjne, Op. 54
13 03:34
14 10:28
15 03:20
16 04:46
17 04:34
blue highlight denotes track pick