Sunday, April 27, 2008

Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

Gorecki's Symphony #3 has been one of my favourites for a good few years. It's one of these few classical pieces that has made it to the Top 10 of popular charts. It's a gorgeous piece that gets to your gut. No need for elaborate understanding of music to love it.

It was performed at the National Concert Hall last Friday, and we were lucky to get tickets. I booked online and thought that I had tickets at the back of the hall, but I was wrong, and we were at the very first row - right at the foot of the stage. A bit too close for comfort, and we got to see the artists' shiny shoes (first violin, first cello and conductor had the shiniest of them all!).

The first part was a Beethoven piece - quite good, but we were too close to appreciate it. The instruments at the back of the orchestra were drowned out by the cellos and violins, from which we could hear every note and murmur.

But for Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, it doesn't matter, as it's all double-bass, cello, violas, violins and soprano - pretty much all at the front of the stage. We would have enjoyed it better if we had been a few rows back, but it was fabulous all the same - the music in the first part sweeps through the stage, building up slowly through the instruments for a good 15 minutes before the soprano starts singing (it must be nerve-wracking for her - sitting at the front of the stage with nothing to do for 15 minutes). The soprano was Orla Boylan (for some reason, I thought she was Eastern European), and the orchestra the RTE NSO. All very good.

Have a look at YouTube for a very vivid rendition of the second part.

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