DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Finally, Music Suitable For A Blind Buy

By Norman Lebrecht on April 20, 2018

Grazyna Bacewicz: Quintets, quartets (Chandos)

★★★★ (out of five)

How many times have I told you not to buy a record for its cover? Well, this one justifies the purchase. The image shows the central square of a small town in Poland in the 1960s, a place where nothing ever happens yet everything is closely watched. The image has been colourised for added artificiality. It is stifling, cloying, vividly reminiscent of the oppressive dullness of Communism.

The music is made to match. Bacewicz, who lived from 1909 to 1969, was a busy violinist who kept her head down and played well within the rules. Wat is going through her mind can only be guessed but some sonorities in the second piano quintet of 1965 are restlessly modern, reminiscent of Lutoslawski and, beyond, of forbidden Schoenberg.

The first quintet, dated 1952, hints at a repressed spirituality of a kind that would, year later, be associated with Henryk Mikolai Gorecki. And throughout Bacewicz maintains her own personality, with little outbursts of percussive piano rage and buzzy bees’ noises that suggest she is not entirely comfortable with her sheltered existence in the Polish workers’ paradise.

Her music is finally being sponsored on record by the national heritage authorities, but we need to experience its confrontational qualities live. The Silesian Quartet, with pianist Wojtech Switala, are good enough to grace the international stage.

Grazyna Bacewicz: Quintets, quartets (Chandos) is available at amazon.ca.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

LEBRECHT LISTENS | A Case For Clementi On A Hot Summer’s Night

By Norman Lebrecht on August 3, 2018

Clementi on a modern piano with Stefan Chaplikov is enough to engage the ear while easing the mind on a hot summer’s night.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

FEATURE | How Much Does It REALLY Cost To Be A Classical Musician?

By Anya Wassenberg on August 9, 2018

Three professional classical musicians walk us through how much money it takes to make it in this business.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | The Baroness And The Pig Is A Thinking Person’s Theatre

By Paula Citron on August 3, 2018

Shaw Festival's The Baroness and the Pig shows Michael Mackenzie not so much a playwright of passion, but one of inquiry.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.