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Whispers of Titans


Górecki’s Elementi is music of extremes. The music is defined by a bold, physical aspect, with the sheer energy of the performance an integral part of the listening experience. Elementi dates from 1962, early in Górecki’s career, and demonstrates the increasing sophistication with which he was then handling Modernist techniques. Elementi dates from 1962, early in Górecki’s career, and demonstrates the increasing sophistication with which he was then handling Modernist techniques.By combining serial structuring with a sonoristic approach to sound colour, Górecki creates a musical language that balances the concerns of texture and progression. Unlike the contemporaneous sonorist scores of Krzysztof Penderecki and Tadeusz Baird, Górecki’s work here always has a sense of movement, of musical argument; his concern with texture never risks stasis. Although written for string trio, Elementi does not seem like chamber music. The scale of the music’s gestures belies its chamber forces. That scale is also apparent in the performance directions, which specify that the players should sit in a triangular formation, at least six metres apart. The present recording has been made with the musicians in this arrangement, and the aural perspectives it creates can be clearly heard, especially when listening in surround sound.

Medieval, Romantic, Minimalist, Avant-garde – all find a place in the music of Nikolai Korndorf. Yet his work rarely sounds eclectic, the ideas and techniques combining to form a focussed, and often uncompromising, musical language. Korndorf’s compositional career falls into two periods. His early work follows the Modernist trends of the time. But from the early 1980s, Korndorf adopted a new approach, more diverse, if no less austere. Tonality became an important element of his music, although more as a point of reference than an integral part of his harmonic language. The String Trio was completed in 1986, so dates from the early years of this second style. It was written in homage to Alfred Schnittke, a mentor figure for Korndorf and many other composers of his generation. “He was a teacher. His ideas, his oeuvre, his moral position, his attitude towards art were teachers as well….Influence, the effect of Schnittke on younger composers was much wider than the influence of style, it was an influence of world outlook.” The result is a work that draws on many aspects of Schnittke’s compositional technique, while only occasionally sounding like him. Korndorf’s own compositional outlook is just as significant to the work, especially his interest in Medieval Russian hymnody and American Minimalism.

sound engineer: Piotr Furmanczyk


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no picnic with Gramophone

Saturn mutilating Uranus

intense music-making

NRC loves tickling

in his element

a rewarding journey