Beth Gibbons Of Portishead And The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra Release New Album Today
Domino is proud to release Henryk G recki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) performed by Beth Gibbons and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki, today.
The performance took place November 29, 2014 at The National Opera Grand Theatre in Warsaw, and was part of an evening of programming that also featured Jonny Greenwood's (Radiohead) 48 Responses To Polymorphia and the world premiere of Bryce Dessner's (The National) R ponse Lutos awski. Both an audio and film recording (produced by the National Audiovisual Institute, Poland and directed by Micha Merczy ski) of Gibbons's performance are out today. The release is available physically in CD, LP, deluxe CD and deluxe LP from Domino. The two deluxe formats include the concert film on a NTSC formatted DVD.
Following an invitation to collaborate at the concert, Beth Gibbons the elusive yet iconic frontwoman of Portishead, one of the most important British bands of the last two decades undertook an intense preparation process, including tackling the challenge of learning the Polish original text (and the emotional weight it carries) without speaking the mother language. The other challenge was the music itself. Beth's voice is, in classical terms, a contralto; G recki wrote for a soprano, one register higher. While she had ventured into the soprano range before, she hadn't spent a sustained stretch of time there in performance; she sought the help of both English and Polish vocal coaches. Typical to Beth, the challenge was met and exceeded.
The apparent simplicity of G recki's third symphony its straightforward harmonies and rhythmic regularity is belied by the score; this is not an easy piece for any of the performers. Dynamic changes happen over vast stretches of time; canons build and interweave; there are sustained stretches in which singer and orchestra have to keep the music hovering, almost still the same effect you witness when a bird coasts alongside a boat at the same speed: everything is moving but seems motionless. The texts themselves bear the same contradictions simple language and exposed sentiments, beneath which are pain, loss, tragedy, and horror.
Beth's guiding principle, into which she packed all the technicalities of performance and language and character, was to engage emotionally with the piece. Whether singing one of her own lyrics or one of the symphony's, she aims at a direct emotional injection from performer to audience. Her performance alongside the maestro Krzysztof Penderecki has been hailed as triumphant.