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String Quartet No.1 Op.62 'Already it is dusk'

Henryk Górecki (b. 1933 - d. 2010)

Apollon Musagete Quartet (photo credit: Marco Borggreve)

Apollon Musagete Quartet (photo credit: Marco Borggreve)

Composer
Henryk Górecki (b. 1933 - d. 2010)
Composition Year
1988
Work Movements
1. Deciso: Molto lento - Tranquillo
2. Allegro Deciso: Energico - Ferocissimo - Molto furioso
3. Molto lento - Tranquillissimo
Artists
Apollon Musagète Quartet (Paweł Zalejski, Bartosz Zachłod [violins], Piotr Szumieł [viola], Piotr Skweres [cello])

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

I think that music is one of the domains that people really need, and its importance only depends on whether one knows how to receive it. Every person needs to be prepared to know how to ‘use’ music. Not only music – also literature, painting, sculpture, and film. Tarkowski said that art is prayer. It is something that I also emphasize. But it is difficult to understand: one has to mature to this thought.

This work last appeared in the Festival in 2003 as our celebration of the composer’s 70th birthday. Now nine years later we must mourn his passing in November 2010. This quartet is based on the melodic and programmatic ideas of an early sixteenth century Polish hymn by Waclaw of Szamoutuly. Already it is dusk and total darkness approaches. Let us ask God for his care and protection. May He guard us against the spells of the wicked, who are drawn by the dark void to wreak their vengeance.

The work is in three movements with a coda, played without a break. The striking opening chord symbolises the approach of darkness, immediately calmed by the prayer for God’s protection. As the movement advances the chaos of night grows ever closer, and the prayer becomes more insistent, and we realise that the darkness may not be overcome. When night closes in – ferocissimo and molto furioso – we are overwhelmed by the terror that is unleashed. This music is inspired by the colours and rhythms of Polish folk music – the harsh timbres and relentless ostinati of the mountain dances from the Tatras.

Eventually the long night draws to an end with a reprise of the opening, but now shorn of the sinister and terrifying threat of chaos. Instead we have the comforting cadences of the prayer that concludes with the quiet tolling of a bell, before the coda’s tender and peaceful conclusion.  

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String Quartet No.1 Op.62 'Already it is dusk'

Composer: Henryk Górecki (b. 1933 - d. 2010)
Performance date: Wednesday 4th July 2012
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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http://archive.westcorkmusic.ie/details/view/cmf/161

Composer Henryk Górecki (b. 1933 - d. 2010)
Work Title String Quartet No.1 Op.62 'Already it is dusk'
Composition Year 1988
Work Movements 1. Deciso: Molto lento - Tranquillo
2. Allegro Deciso: Energico - Ferocissimo - Molto furioso
3. Molto lento - Tranquillissimo
Artist(s) Apollon Musagète Quartet (Paweł Zalejski, Bartosz Zachłod [violins], Piotr Szumieł [viola], Piotr Skweres [cello])
Performance Date Wednesday 4th July 2012
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:17:11
Recording Engineer Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category String Quartet
Instrumentation 2vn, va, vc
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

I think that music is one of the domains that people really need, and its importance only depends on whether one knows how to receive it. Every person needs to be prepared to know how to ‘use’ music. Not only music – also literature, painting, sculpture, and film. Tarkowski said that art is prayer. It is something that I also emphasize. But it is difficult to understand: one has to mature to this thought.

This work last appeared in the Festival in 2003 as our celebration of the composer’s 70th birthday. Now nine years later we must mourn his passing in November 2010. This quartet is based on the melodic and programmatic ideas of an early sixteenth century Polish hymn by Waclaw of Szamoutuly. Already it is dusk and total darkness approaches. Let us ask God for his care and protection. May He guard us against the spells of the wicked, who are drawn by the dark void to wreak their vengeance.

The work is in three movements with a coda, played without a break. The striking opening chord symbolises the approach of darkness, immediately calmed by the prayer for God’s protection. As the movement advances the chaos of night grows ever closer, and the prayer becomes more insistent, and we realise that the darkness may not be overcome. When night closes in – ferocissimo and molto furioso – we are overwhelmed by the terror that is unleashed. This music is inspired by the colours and rhythms of Polish folk music – the harsh timbres and relentless ostinati of the mountain dances from the Tatras.

Eventually the long night draws to an end with a reprise of the opening, but now shorn of the sinister and terrifying threat of chaos. Instead we have the comforting cadences of the prayer that concludes with the quiet tolling of a bell, before the coda’s tender and peaceful conclusion.