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Bacewicz: Divertimento; Sinfonietta etc

Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio/Agnieszka Duczmal (Dux)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Bacewicz
Divertimento; Sinfonietta; Symphony; Concerto
Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio/Agnieszka Duczmal
DUX DUX 1828   54:53 mins

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In a posthumously published collection of autobiographical anecdotes, Grażynza Bacewicz wrote: ‘I normally do not walk but run; I speak fast; even my pulse beats faster than others.’ So it does in the music this major Polish composer wrote, certainly in the outer movements of the spirited string pieces collected here, ranging from the 1935 Sinfonietta, when she was just past her student years in Paris, to an even more pungent Divertimento, written 30 years later. The music’s rhythmic vitality, wonderfully amplified in these gutsy vintage performances (the oldest is from 2004), is the most obvious sign of Bacewicz’s uniquely determined spirit, though her slow movements, whether reflective or anguished, never show any loss of muscle.

Whatever the stylistic influences at work – baroque, neo-classical, early-20th-century French – her bright ideas keep bubbling out, sometimes poured into vessels too small to reap their full benefit (the three-movement Divertimento lasts just over six minutes). She luckily gives herself more room to breathe in the Concerto and Symphony, kaleidoscopic and vital post-war pieces from the 1940s, and among her most impressive.

Agnieszka Duczmal and her Amadeus Chamber Orchestra plunge into every work with tremendous fire and flair: if the movements are marked ‘vivo’, they really move fast, though not at the expense of ensemble precision. The acoustic of the University Auditorium, Poznán, might lend the performances a little shrill edge, but who wants to sink into plush velvet with music and music-making this dynamic and full of life?

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Geoff Brown