"On this disc, the Chicago Symphony and Opera Choruses explore three powerful sacred works by this remarkably tranquil composer whilst the Lira Chamber Chorus looks at secular works in his native language. As far as the singing and direction goes, this is a brilliant performance- attuned to the passion and the detail in the music. Although these works are not without their problems- "Miserere" is half an hour long, and "Amen" and "Euntes ibant" both feature harmonies that are (to say the least) harrowing on the ear and on the mind- they are a fine selection indeed. However, if I were Gorecki I would be ready to throttle the producers: the recording is cluttered with background noise such as a door slamming, a heavy vehicle passing (to say nothing about the constant 'dripping' sound that comes through the music particularly early on). Were it not for this, this disc would have my highest recommendation. Nonetheless, I will say that for those who can 'digest' it, this is pure and austere music that is simply written and sensitively performed. In particular, I find "Wislo Moja, Wislo Szara" to be wonderfully haunting and very reflective of the troubled country from which it originates."
Power of the Human Voice in Concert: Hope for Brotherhood
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Henryk Gorecki is able to achieve so much power and transcendence with so very little that his music for unaccompanied chorus stands as a metaphor for we as the global community cold achieve if we believed in the motivation that soars through this selection of music.
MISERERE is a stunning work, a response to the political upheaval in Poland that surrounded the United Peasant Party in 1981 when members of the Rural Solidarity were slaughtered by the militia. In response to this Gorecki immediately composed this work for large unaccompanied chorus which for the first thirty minutes intones the words 'Domine Deus Noster' (Lord our God), first by massive male voices intoning, plea-like, then joined by women's voices in agitation and ultimate reverence, adding only are the very end the words 'Miserere nobis' (have mercy on us). If any listener fails to be moved by this quiet, urgent, sonorous plea for peace, then we as a universal people have much work to do!
Appropriately, MISERERE is followed by a performance of Gorecki's AMEN. Again, this work does not change key, uses only the single word 'Amen' as text, but packs so much power and finally closes with the choral forces closing the 'n' in sustained echo. Following the simplicity of this six-minute work is Gorecki's first work composed for unaccompanied voices - the Psalms setting titled EUTES IBANT ET FLEBANT and is reminiscent of the mood of his now famous "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs". And dating back to the year of MISERERE is his setting of 'My Vistula, Grey Vistula', a brief but compelling setting of the folk music of Poland.
The final work on this very fine recording is a secular setting of Polish folksongs SZEROKA WODA, charming in its simplicity and unfettered by complicated messages or writing.
The Chigago Symphony Chorus and the Chicago Lyric Opera Chorus are impeccably conducted by John Nelson for the first four works and the Polish Folksongs are performed by the Lira Chamber Chorus conducted by Lucy Ding. The sound of the recording is resonant and rich and I must admit that the music speaks so strongly on this recording that I was not hampered by the extraneous sounds mentioned by other reviewers. And there may be a message there about priorities and responses... Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, February 2005
Bumps, Crashes and Beautiful music
Lorin Kee | Thompson's Station, TN United States | 07/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Beautiful singing. It's unfortunate that some poor guy was made to fold chairs in the room throughout the entire recording. I only wish this was an exaggeration. Listening in the car may alleviate some of the problem . . ."
Purest music of all
Benjamin | Antwerp | 09/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'domine, deus noster' (Lord, our God). These words are repeated for almost half an hour in Miserere. I know this can sound boring, it is certainly not the case. The words never sound the same, the music is always evolving. And then, at the end, quietly, the choir sings 'miserere nobis' (save us), creating maybe the purest, most emotional moment in music history I ever heard. It simply is breath-taking."
Wide ranging voices, very attractive choral music
Benjamin | 10/13/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who like wide-ranging choral music, this recording is awesome! Play through the CD and you will hear a progression of different voices and emotions. From the beginning of the disc, you have extremely low voices which build to a wonderful choral song over 20 minutes later. The simple line: "Lord our God, have mercy on us." repeated over and over, makes the first track almost mesmirizing. From there, there are eight other tracks ranging in many different vocal styles, all in wonderful choral voices. This CD is well produced and recorded. I highly recommend it to anyone serious about choral music."