Piano Sonata No. 1 op. 6
As a result, Eugeniusz Knapik played the first movement at the festival, and the whole was performed in public for the first time seven years later by British pianist Paul Crossley, in Helsinki. The recording presented here comes from the Marathon of Górecki’s Music held at the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice on 6 December 2003, the composer’s 70th birthday. The performer of the Sonata is the composer’s daughter, Anna, who recalls that her father never interfered with how she played his compositions and that it was only at the concert that he heard the Sonata in her interpretation for the first time.
The three-part Sonata makes use of the traditional formal model, without the scherzo. The powerful first movement, Allegro molto, akin to Bartók in character and following the ABA model, is based on incessantly repeated, strongly dissonant ostinati. The central movement introduces a calm melody, distinctly of folk provenance, accompanied by “walking” chords, after which the initial material returns with all its energy. The nostalgic Grave pesante a corale proves to be a brief 24-bar repose, as if suspended in time, before the vigorous Allegro vivace. This finale, though perhaps less turbulent than the first movement, has a strong dance-like mazurka quality. Dissonant harmonies distort the folk melody. In this part we also hear strong rhythmic accents and repeated syncopated ostinati, but the texture is not as dense as in the first movement.
in other of Górecki’s pieces from that period, the Piano Sonata is characterised by a specific, explosive energy of
sound, briefly held back in the slow middle movement. The work demands from its
performers a strong, resolute attack and extreme rhythmic precision.