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LABELS: Hänssler faszinationmusik
WORKS: Piano works
PERFORMER: Ewa Kupiec (piano)
Grazyna Bacewicz, unquestionably Poland’s greatest woman composer of the 20th century, was a fascinatingly rounded artist. Apart from her activities as a composer, she was a virtuoso violinist, the leader of the first Polish radio symphony orchestra, and, if that were not enough, a novelist, dramatist and writer of short stories. Musically, her style is as wide-ranging as her artistic interests. Study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris confirmed a marked inclination toward modernism manifested in an often abrasive style and a use of serialism.


The modernist side is well to the fore in the Little Triptych of 1965 and the Sonata No. 2 from the early Fifties which opens this impressive disc, but the coherence of its musical argument and some gentle, almost impressionistic colouring in the slow movement ensure the work’s overall approachability. A more conservative accent is to be heard in the distinctly Parisian-sounding Scherzo (along with the Drei Burlesken, a world premiere recording) and the Children’s Suite of 1933. Occasionally, clear influences emerge, for example a glimpse of Prokofiev in the 1953 Rondino, but Bacewicz is much more than a sum of influences and repays careful listening. Ewa Kupiec’s well-recorded performances are marked by both insight and sympathetic virtuosity. Jan Smaczny