Bacewicz: Violin Concertos Nos 2, 4 & 5

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LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 2, 4 & 5
PERFORMER: Joanna Kurkowicz (violin); Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Lukasz Borowicz


This is a superb follow-up to Joanna Kurkowicz’s first disc of the Violin Concertos by Graz·yna Bacewicz. It eloquently demonstrates not only that the Polish composer must herself have been a first-rank violinist (she premiered her first four Concertos herself) but how significant she now seems as a linking figure between the idioms of Szymanowski and Lutosławski. Echoes of both composers can be heard in the Fifth Concerto (1954), probably the finest of the three on display here. She composed the Second Concerto at the end of World War II, and the Fourth during the Stalin era of aesthetic hegemony.


They both craftily combine elements of neo-classicism with a folk impulse in the manner of Bartók, without once compromising Bacewicz’s personal voice or her sense of passionate determination. But what impresses most, throughout, is Bacewicz’s continual inventiveness: she displays vital rhythmic energy in her fast movements and penetrating expressiveness in the slow ones. She also shows her command of orchestration and violin technique.Anyone who loves the concertos of Szymanowski, Bloch, Martinu˚ or Bartók will surely adore these works. Every one is a premiere recording, played with fire and passion. Calum MacDonald