Friday, June 16, 2017

Grażyna Bacewicz; George Enescu - Works for Violin and Piano (Lydia Mordkovitch; Ian Fountain)


Composer: Grażyna Bacewicz; George Enescu
  • (01-03) Enescu - Violin Sonata No. 2 in F minor, Op. 6
  • (04-08) Bacewicz - Sonata da camera
  • (09-12) Bacewicz - Violin Sonata No. 3
  • (13-16) Bacewicz - Partita

Lydia Mordkovitch, violin
Ian Fountain, piano
Date: 2008
Label: Chandos



Chandos’s first foray into the music of Grazÿyna Bacewicz (1909-69) was “Polish Capriccio” and featured Joanna Kurkowicz playing the Fourth and Fifth Sonatas with piano and Second without, plus a smattering of other works including the Partita (1955), a surprisingly tough suite written at a time of official scrutiny when chamber music was actively discouraged. Surprisingly perhaps, Lydia Mordkovitch has repeated it here; but with such a compelling account one has no complaints. Taking its cue from early classical forms with a slow-fast-slow-fast layout (not unlike a sonata da chiesa but without a fugal first allegro), the Partita is a way-station between her folk-dominated early style and the more abstract, harmonically freer music made possibly by the cultural thaw initiated only the next year.

The Sonata da camera (1945) doubles as her First for violin, in five delightful movements based even more closely on classical models. In places – for instance, the Trio of the central Tempo di menuetto – it comes close to salon music of the kind Bacewicz must have been only too familiar with as a player, but with a harmonic spice not normally associated with such works. Lighter in tone than many later pieces, it is an appealing and revealing portrait of her brilliant violin technique. So, too, is the enjoyable and compact Third Sonata (1948), bizarrely for such a well made piece one of her least well known. After a vigorous opening Allegro moderato – Allegro appassionato and beautiful Adagio, the Vivo scherzo does round the work off in very definite fashion but is succeeded by the work’s longest movement, an Andante – Moderato compound finale. Mordkovitch is in fine form throughout, ably accompanied by Ian Fountain, and the sound is excellent. There’s a fine account of Enescu’s glorious F minor Second Sonata (1899) to open proceedings, too.

-- Guy Rickards, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: ****


Grażyna Bacewicz (5 February 1909 – 17 January 1969) was a Polish composer and violinist. She is only the second Polish female composer to have achieved national and international recognition, the first being Maria Szymanowska in the early 19th century. Bacewicz studied with teachers such as Nadia Boulanger and Carl Flesch, among others. After completing her studies, Bacewicz took part in numerous events as a soloist, composer, and jury member. Many of her compositions feature the violin. Among them are seven violin concertos, five sonatas for violin with piano, three for violin solo and four numbered symphonies.


George Enescu (19 August 1881 – 4 May 1955) was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, and teacher, regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century and Romania's most important musician. He was the youngest student ever admitted to the Vienna Conservatory at the age of seven. Many of Enescu's works were influenced by Romanian folk music, his most popular compositions being the two Romanian Rhapsodies. He was also a noted violin teacher. Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux, Serge Blanc, Ida Haendel and Joan Field were among his pupils.


Lydia Mordkovitch (30 April 1944 – 9 December 2014) was a Russian-born British violinist. She studied at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory under David Oistrakh, then serving as his assistant from 1968 to 1970. Mordkovitch settled permanently in the UK signed a recording contract with Chandos in 1980, after the company RCA, with which she had previously had a contract, went bankrupt. She was featured in over 60 recordings for Chandos. Mordkovitch became a professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1995 as a specialist in Russian music.


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