Friday, June 16, 2017

Grażyna Bacewicz - Piano Sonata No. 2; Piano Quintets (Krystian Zimerman)


Composer: Grażyna Bacewicz
  • (01-04) Piano Quintet No. 1
  • (05-07) Piano Sonata No. 2
  • (08-10) Piano Quintet No. 2

Krystian Zimerman, piano
Kaja Danczowska, violin
Agata Szymczewska, violin
Ryszard Groblewski, viola
Rafał Kwiatkowski, cello

Date: 2011
Label: Deutsche Grammophon



The challenging yet beguiling music of Grażyna Bacewicz

“A lot happens in my music,” Bacewicz is quoted as saying. “It’s aggressive and at the same time lyrical.” That, according to the booklet writer, “says all that needs to be said about her music”. A moot point. I came to this as a Bacewicz virgin, not knowing what to expect other than what one would anticipate from the composer’s dates (1909‑69) and nationality (Polish). Sure enough, her music is dissonant, involves complex tone colours, occasionally aleatory features and fearsome technical challenges. Yet all three works here fall back on Classical models, and while there are some gritty passages, I found myself drawn into the sound world with its nods to Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Bartók, Szymanowski and even Ravel.

All three works use the full sonority and dynamic range of the instruments, from the piano’s crunching bass clusters in the four-movement Piano Quintet No 1 (1952) and Second Piano Sonata (1953), to the plaintive fragmented string motifs of the Larghetto from the Second Piano Quintet (1965). The outer movements of the Sonata make huge demands on Zimerman. He has had the work in his repertoire since the early 1970s (he recorded it in 1977 – Olympia, 12/93) and makes a convincing case for it. Though Bacewicz is unlikely to become a composer of mass popular appeal, this is a fine tribute, vividly recorded.

-- Jeremy Nicholas, 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.


Krystian Zimerman (born December 5, 1956 in Zabrze, Poland) is a Polish virtuoso pianist who has been hailed as one of the finest living pianists. He studied at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice under Andrzej Jasiński. His career was launched when he won the 1975 Warsaw International Chopin Piano Competition. Zimerman is best known for his interpretations of Romantic music, but has performed a wide variety of classical pieces as well. He has also been a supporter of contemporary music. Zimerman has toured widely and made a number of recordings. Since 1996, he has taught piano at the Academy of Music in Basel, Switzerland.


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