String Quartet No. 3 “…Songs Are Sung…” op. 67
Still, the first performance took place only in 2005. Why did the composer wait a decade before he presented his last string quartet to the world? It is hard to find a satisfying answer, especially since it is an extraordinary work – one could even say a consummate masterpiece.
The composition, nearly an hour long, consists of five parts, of which only the shortest, the four-minute central part, brings a livelier and brighter mood – still far from the impetuosity and dance-like intensity of fast sections from Górecki’s earlier quartets. The other “movements” of Quartet No. 3 last roughly 12 minutes each and are imbued with an atmosphere of deep, sorrow-laden lyricism. The moving effect of this work was achieved thanks to a maximum reduction of means of expression, for instance through the repetition of short motifs and of single tones in low registers, and the slowed pace of narration. The extremely intimate, reflective, focused, even mournful tone of this music penetrates deep into listeners’ hearts.
quartet makes a powerful, unsettling impression, which corresponds to the
poetic motto selected by the composer, a quatrain by the Russian poet Velimir
Khlebnikov: “When the sun dies – it goes out / when horses die – they neigh /
when grasses die – they wither / when people die – songs are sung”. Górecki
wrote a highly personal “song” that undoubtedly touches on ultimate things.
Could this be the reason he postponed the presentation of this work for such a