Grazyna Bacewicz: Music for Strings a Must-have
This release presents four different takes on the string orchestra by Grazyna Bacewicz. Bacewicz was a concert violinist. So as a composer, she understood the potential of such an ensemble better than most.
The earliest work is the Sinfonietta from 1935. At the time, Bacewicz was writing highly rhythmic works. Dissonant motifs would break apart and return. And that’s what happens in this Sinfonietta. It’s an intense piece, especially as played by the Primuz Chamber Orchestra.
Her Symphony for String Orchestra was written eleven years later. This is the longest work on the album. The music is smoother and more lyrical. There’s still an urgent forward pulse, but it’s been sublimated.
The 1948 Concerto for String Orchestra has been called neo-classical. It has some of those elements. The block-like structure mimics the Baroque concerto grosso form. And some of the motivic developments seem inspired by Haydn and Mozart.
But there are other things at play here. Bacewicz’s harmonies seem inspired by her interest in Impressionism. Bacewicz uses these as a springboard for her creativity.
The Divertimento for String Orchestra was composed in 1965, four years before her death. It’s the shortest work on the album, lasting about seven minutes. It’s also the most densely packed. Bacewicz is economical in her use of material. Each gesture, each motif, is serving two or three different functions simultaneously.
The Primus Chamber Orchestra directed by Lukasz Blaszczyk turn in some tremendous performances. This is music they care about. And that dedication comes through in the recordings. If you’ve not heard these works before, let this release be your introduction.
Heck, if you’ve not heard any of Bacewicz’s music before, let this be your introduction. It’s that good.
Grazyna Bacewicz: Music for String Orchestra
Primuz Chamber Orchestra: Lukasz Blaszczyk, conductor