Chamber music by Bacewicz with Diana Ambache

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COMPOSERS: Bacewicz
LABELS: Ambache
ALBUM TITLE: Bacewicz
WORKS: Chamber music
PERFORMER: Jeremy Polmear (oboe), Lucy Wakeford (harp), Tristan Fry (percussion), David Juritz, Victoria Sayles, Richard Milone, Charlotte Scott (violin), Ashok Klouda, Rebecca Knight, Sarah Suckling, Morwenna Del Mar (cello), Diana Ambache (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AMB 2607

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Following her previous recordings devoted to chamber music of women composers, Diana Ambache turns her attention to Grażyna Bacewicz. Not long ago largely neglected, Bacewicz is at last being recognised as one of Poland’s outstanding – regardless of gender – 20th century composers, every bit the equal of her contemporaries Lutosawski and Panufnik. Though she died younger (aged 63) than either of them, she produced a considerable output covering the major genres.

The chamber music, though, is an ideal place to start for those new to her music, and this disc features an attractively wide range of works and styles. Bacewicz was a violinist herself (and leader of the Polish Radio Orchestra before World War II) and wrote rewardingly for her instrument. Admired for her contribution to the string quartet literature, she also composed the Quartet for Four Violins that opens this disc, a work showing her fresh approach to musical texture. Other unusual combinations heard on this recording are the Quartet for Four Cellos and Trio for Oboe, Harp and Percussion – dating from 1965, four years before her death, this is the latest of the works here.

The earliest works on this disc, from 1934, show a leaning towards neo-Classicism: the Theme and Variations for violin and piano receives a performance of striking panache from David Juritz and Ambache. They also play a series of dances showing how Bacewicz dealt with the strictures of Socialist Realism; intriguingly, the Mazovian Dance (1951) has a motif in common with Lutosawski’s Concerto for Orchestra of the same period.

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John Allison