A stupendous spinner of sorrowful songs, Henryk Górecki left us with all we could possibly need to mourn him. So Saturday night, a year after his death, the new music series Jacaranda was at no loss for material with which to remember the wondrous Polish composer whose sad but transcendent Third Symphony became an international sensation in the 1990s.
Still, it wasn’t just a haunting melancholy that made Górecki great. It was his vitality. A living heartbeat is palpable in every measure he wrote, no matter how slowly the music moved. He was also funny -– wacky, even. And extraordinarily physical. He had a resonant keyboard technique that could make any piano sound twice as large as it was.
The centerpiece of Jacaranda’s all-Górecki program was a performance of “Quasi una Fantasia,” the composer’s second string quartet. Written for the Kronos Quartet in 1991, the 33-minute score, which is bitter and sweet, was performed with a radiant warmth at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica on Saturday (with a repeat Sunday evening) by the Calder Quartet.