Polish composer Henryk Górecki, whose popularity exploded after the success of his Third Symphony, had an interest in and talent for chamber music throughout his long career. Unlike many composers, though, Górecki did not turn to the genre of string quartet until late in his life. It was the Kronos Quartet that provided the impetus and was to commission and premiere each of the composer's three string quartets. Like any of Górecki's works, inspiration is drawn from composers of the past (particularly Beethoven), literary verse, and Polish folk music. Górecki transforms each of these muses into works of his own unique musical language that purposefully explores dissonance, contrasting textures and rhythms, and extremes of both dynamics and tempo. This Hyperion album brings together the three string quartets as performed by the Royal String Quartet. Precision technical skills are a must for any successful performance of Górecki's works, as a lack of pristine intonation or rhythmic exactness can easily prove disastrous. Fortunately for listeners, the RSQ possesses these skills in abundance. Armed with a detailed and easy-to-follow set of liner notes, listeners are guided through emotionally vibrant, stunning performances of these works. The RSQ achieves a remarkably low dynamic level while maintaining a pleasing tone, contrasting with appropriate vicious, aggressive fortes. Hyperion's sound is clean and almost sterile, an appropriate attribute for Górecki's quartets.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Quasi una fantasia (String Quartet No. 2), Op. 64|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|... songs are sung (String Quartet No. 3), Op. 67|