Composed in 1976, Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,” describes the anguished, raw pain of separation and death with music of a timeless, almost primitive quality. Its performance demands an emotional directness from both orchestra and soprano soloist, and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki, is in searing form alongside the fragile, unvarnished voice of Beth Gibbons, singer of UK trip-hop pioneers Portishead. Gibbons intones the tragedy of each movement with an earthbound purity and honesty, and her voice carries aloft the almost unbearably powerful second movement. That this is a live recording makes her performance all the more impressive.
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