5 Songs, 46 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

4.2 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

GustafNeilson ,


Gorecki's String Quartet No. 2, Op. 64 - Quasi una Fantasia - is an intense and heart stirring composition I have no doubt about rating five stars.
There is, however, a preliminary consideration to be made: this piece of music, more than others, asks for cooperation, lots of it, and it will not satisfy listeners who are unwilling to award it with such cooperation. The reason for this, paradoxically, rests in the quartet's overtly simple and stubbornly repetitive inner structure, which is very likely to annoy listeners who either are untrained to minimalist music, or (even more so, perhaps, in this case) believe that simplicity of form essentially entails a lack of ideas. In other words, in order for those approaching Gorecki's Quasi una Fantasia to thoroughly enjoy it (and comprehend it), they must cooperate - that is, suspend skepticism and let the music exercise its hypnotic suggestion on them. If they do not, they'll inevitably miss its point and therefore find it exceedingly simple and consequently discharge it.

But now, lets take a closer look at Gorecki's quartet from the standpoint of those who, like myself, through cooperation, allow it to function effectively... Quasi una Fantasia - in my opinion very nearly a "hallucination," rather than merely a "fantasy" - is a well spun, taut web it's hard for one to get out of, once one has fallen into it. In general, it steps forward by means of constant and cumulative repetitions, which gradually produce a snowball effect, inevitably submerging its listeners: very brief themes are reiterated and lengthened in the process, thus leading to immensely long bars, which cause one, literally, to skip a heartbeat. This development is not unaccompanied: deeply-set and never-so-stubborn ostinatos give the piece further cohesion, while swelling its unhealthy, beautifully morbid quality. Although fragments of Polish folk music shed light on the composition, its general mood, as I see it, is rather dark. The third movement, in particular, conveys a sense of gloominess which is so desperate it may be thought of as pure madness. The last movement, however, seems to state that there is hope, and that joy - often unexpectedly - emerges from and defeats anguish.

Essentialism ,


This seems to be music for psychotics, or to induce a psychotic episode even in the normally tranquil. Unnecessarily jarring and random. Using the strings only to disturb and irritate. Not up to par with Gorecki's greatest works. Disappointing.

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