LISTEN: Colin Stetson Shares “Sorrow III,” From His Reimagining of Górecki’s Third Symphony

The avant-garde sax player goes orchestral.

Colin Stetson can make a saxophone shudder. He can make it convulse. He taps, pummels, loops, and groans into his instrument until the woodwind is almost entirely unrecognizable. His ability to call down such thunder on his New History of Warfare series has earned him spots playing with Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, and Tim Hecker, among many others, and he recently released a collaborative LP with Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld.

All of which makes the quiet ambition of his latest project somewhat surprising. On April 8, Stetson will release SORROW — A Reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony, a new album that does precisely what its title says. And though you might be tempted to imagine that the contemporary Polish composer’s third symphony will be getting blasted-out in gasps of circular breath and cacophonic sound, the excerpt Stetson released today suggests otherwise. “Sorrow III,” the symphony’s final refrain, is gracefully executed with an almost crystalline gentleness. In a statement, Stetson notes the refrain’s “peaceful lament” and “immaculate beauty,” all of which he’s kept in tact. Of course, the same statement calls it “one of the lighter, string-led sections of the work,” so if you’re hoping for the kind of symphony you need ear plugs for, you might still be in luck.

Take a listen to “Sorrow III” (as well as a previous excerpt, “Sorrow I”) below.

SORROW is out April 8 on 52Hz via Kartel Music Group.

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