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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grazyna Bacewicz's Violin Concertos Nos. 2, 4, 5: Premier Recordings of Substantial Works, Well Played

If you aren't all that familiar with the music of Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) you are not alone. I have only come to her music recently. She left behind a body of works that may be more well-known in her native Poland than they are in the States, but that may be ending as her work becomes heard increasingly.

For instance we have the second volume of her violin concertos (Chandos), played with brilliance and sensitivity by Joanna Kurkowicz, with the Polish Radio Symphony under Lukasz Borowicz.

Bacewicz wrote extensively for the violin, and the concertos certainly show that she was well in command of expressive idiomatic writing for the instrument. The works cover a nine year span from the end of World War II through to 1954. The three works at hand (Concertos 2, 4, & 5) show originality within an overall Eastern European stylistic continuity. They have a moderately modernistic tone with a good deal of deftly handled, continually shifting chromaticisms and some melodic passages that echo Polish folks strains without exactly engaging them. The violin parts are virtuostic and expressive and her handling of the orchestra is sure.

The Chandos recording has good presence; the orchestra is in excellent form. It is a very good introduction to a composer that deserves more recognition in North America.

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