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Monday, August 1, 2022

Grazyna Bacewicz, A Portrait, Kinga Augustyn, Music for Solo Violin and Violin with Piano


When I used to get tickets to the NY Philharmonic concerts because I was covering the NY beat for the relevant edition of the monthly Delta Airlines Destination Guide, Kurt Mazur happily programmed a piece by Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) into one of the programs. It was the '90s and for whatever reason I was unfamiliar with her music then. It was the beginning for me of a long appreciation of her works that continues today. Gradually I am coming to know her full output, and now I am especially pleased to hear violinist Kinga Augustyn and her new recording of music for solo violin and violin with piano, Portrait (Centaur CRC 3971).

It is a deeply rewarding collection of wonderfully expressive-Modern vehicles taken with great introspective yet jubilant depth by Kinga Augustyn, seconded admirably by Alla Milchtein on piano for the four short pieces and the 1945 Concertino for Violin and Piano. The remainder of the works cover her well wrought solo violin pieces spanning a rather wide swatch of time from 1935 through 1968.

All of the music fascinates and rewards with the kind of fluid ease and memorability that marks Bacewicz at her best and for that matter gives Polish Modernism a special edge in the most general terms, though Grazyna is her own master and sustains originality. So one might feel at times the affinity with Panufnik, Penderecki, Lutoslawski, Paderewski, of course in varied ways yet happily so, especially if you take a wide view.

The concentrated focus and virtuostic dedication of Ms. Augustyn rings true and makes of it all a wonder, a vivid and contrasting program I find as moving and worthwhile as anything I have heard thus far this year. Bravo! For those reading in August 2022 the CD comes out in September but you can pre-order online.

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