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Bacewicz: Piano Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 etc (Jablonski)

Peter Jablonski (piano) (Ondine)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Bacewicz
Piano Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; 10 Concert Etudes for Piano; Etudes in Double Notes; Concert Krakowiak
Peter Jablonski (piano)
Ondine ODE 1399-2   71:24 mins

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Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-69) was one of Poland’s leading composers, a fine concert pianist and a professional violinist. She credited her productivity to having a ‘motorek’, or little engine, that kept her going. She was fast, energetic, focused. And although there’s a risk in conflating biography and music, it’s hard not to hear that propulsive drive at play in the Ten Concert Etudes of 1956-57, performed with muscular conviction by Swedish pianist Peter Jablonski.

He’s the latest in a series of pianists giving overdue attention to Bacewicz, with Krystian Zimerman’s 2011 recording of the Second Piano Sonata (Deutsche Grammophon) a landmark, and recent discs from Ewa Kupiec (Hänssler), Morta Grigaliūnaitė (Piano Classics) and Joanna Sochacka (Dux). This latest offering from Jablonski is well worth hearing: it’s intelligently played and sensitively recorded.

Aside from the Ten Etudes, which put Jablonski through his technical paces, the programme includes the lively Concert Krakowiak(1949), the Etudes on Double Notes (1955) and, best of all, the two piano sonatas. There’s a sense of Bacewicz’s compositional imagination really taking wing in these pieces, and Jablonski commits to her vision. The First Sonata feels full of ambition, and Jablonski draws out all of its rhythmic and emotional complexity.

He also draws out the brooding moods of the Second Sonata’s opening movement, which gives way to a contemplative Largo, its chorale chords beautifully balanced by Jablonski. And the piece ends – how else? – with a dancing finale that bursts with energy.

Rebecca Franks

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