Bacewicz: Piano Quintets Nos 1 &2; Piano Sonata No. 2

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WORKS: Piano Quintets Nos 1 &2; Piano Sonata No. 2
PERFORMER: Krystian Zimerman (piano); Kaja Danczowska, Agata Szymczewska (violin), Ryszard Groblewski (viola), Rafal Kwiatkowski (cello)

A contemporary of Lutos√awski, Grazyna Bacewicz trod a similar path, developing from a folklore-oriented neoclassicism distinctly influenced by Bartók to a freer, more dissonant approach in the wake of the cultural freeing-up occasioned by the Warsaw Autumn festivals. She died comparatively young, yet her music’s international reputation has steadily risen. For her birth-centenary in 2009 Krystian Zimerman mounted a series of concerts in her native Lód´z, from which these performances stem.
The four-movement Piano Quintet No. 1 (1952) displays Bacewicz’s textural refinement, elegant formal sense and creative transformation of folk-intonations and dance rhythms. Her Piano Sonata No. 2 (1953) inhabits a similar ambience but with more impressionistic keyboard writing, a darker harmonic spectrum and greater sense of virtuosic display, and it proves a real display piece for Zimerman’s pianism.
Piano Quintet No. 2 (1965) uses more avant-garde techniques, but it’s never less than cogent and carries the listener in a kaleidoscopic stream of varied phrases, sounds and textures. Exemplary performances. Calum MacDonald