Alexander Tansman wrote his Piano Concerto No. 1 while living in Paris. Its neo-classical styling strongly reminded me of another composer who was there around the same time — Bohuslav Martinu. The concerto has some distinctive syncopations and modal harmonies that I really enjoyed.
I was most familiar with Grazyna Bacewicz through her string quartets, which are aggressively avant-garde. So her 1948 Piano Concerto took me by surprise.
It’s an energic, modernist work. But it still has a clearly defined tonal center and (relatively) smooth, flowing melodies.
Kociuban is well-known for her performances of Bacewicz’ Piano Sonata No. 2. That deep understanding of this work informs her interpretation here. Kociuban is very much in control. Her enthusiastic playing adds to the excitement of the music.
Before this recording, the piano concerto had lapsed into obscurity. This performance should bring it back into the repertoire. Artists and orchestras looking to increase the presence of women composers should start here.
Alexander Tansman, Grazyna Bacewicz: Piano Concertos
Julia Kociuban, piano
Arthur Rubinstein Philharmonic Orchestra; Pawel Przytocki, conductor