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David Dalle
Thursday June 16th, 2016 with David Dalle
Colin Stetson's "Sorrow - a reimagining of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony"

Today I am very pleased to present a brand new recording by adventurous American-Canadian saxophonist Colin Stetson “Sorrow – A Reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony”. This symphony is a very important piece of music for Colin Stetson, clearly it has had the same enormous impact on him as it has for many who have loved this music (myself included). He is joined by a group of 11 fellow musical travellers in essentially an unusual transcription of the complete symphony for various saxophones, guitars, cellos, violin (with Sarah Neufeld), keyboards, synthesizer, drums and his sister Megan Stetson singing. Colin Stetson and musicians will be performing their reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd symphony at the Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 27th. This will be incredible live! The work is originally for orchestra and solo soprano who sings 3 sorrowful songs in Polish. The first is a 15th-century Polish lament of Mary, mother of Jesus, the second a message written by a Polish teenage girl on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II, and the third a Silesian folk song of a mother searching for her son killed by the Germans in the Silesian uprisings in 1919-1921. For me, the symphony is primarily about the 1st movement, at around 30 minutes it is longer than the other two movements combined and it is overwhelming. The 1st movement is simple in construction but devastating in effect. It is a slowly unfolding 10 part canon, which just repeats the lamenting theme, starting with the double-basses, it slowly grows and climbs from lowest to highest as each new part is added (all repeating the same theme, but starting slightly later-which is a canon, a type of contrapuntal form, “Row row row your boat” is a simple example, Bach wrote a lot of canons, Pachelbel’s Canon in D is, well, a canon). As it builds to an enormous texture--an ocean of sound--then the voices start to thin out starting from lowest to highest when the solo soprano enters. She sings her heartrending lament and at the peak of her song, the full 10 parts suddenly come crashing in at full strength. I have always thought of it as the solitary voice is like Moses parting the sea and at that point is when he stops and the sea comes crashing back in. It is one of the most powerful moments in music I know. This 1st movement is a LOT like Bach. It reminds me very much of the opening Kyrie from the Mass in b minor. They are both using very dense counterpoint (one a canon, the other a fugue), and using the lowest bass parts to move the whole heavy structure. And they are both lamenting, but not like a single individual crying out in great distress (like in Schubert’s darkest music), but like all of fragile, suffering, humanity crying out (“Kyrie eleison” – Lord have mercy—have mercy on all of humanity, on all of suffering Earth in this vale of tears). In Colin Stetson’s transcription this 1st movement is truly apocalyptic, the ocean of sound threatens to almost drown the listener in noise. The 2nd and 3rd are more song like, and true to Gorecki’s intention, very sad songs, however the piece does conclude with a feeling of sublime peace. We heard Gorecki's posthumous 4th symphony a couple of weeks ago, still available on-demand: I am dedicating this show to LGBTQ victims of violence and hate everywhere.
Symphony no. 3
Henryk Gorecki arr. Colin Stetson/Colin Stetson - Sorrow - a reimagining of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony - Colin Stetson Canadian New
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