The Sinfonietta, which was premiered in 1936 by the Polish Radio Orchestra under its renowned conductor Grzegorz Fitelberg, was written after Bacewicz had returned from her studies in Paris. That same year it received an honourable mention in a competition run by the Society for the Publication of Polish Music, when she used the pseudonym ‘Simplicity’. In fact, although its three movements are quite brief, they are anything but simple. Regular structures and neat recapitulations were not for her. The outlines of sonata and ternary forms are just about discernible, but this very early work is notable for its free spirit. Bacewicz teases the listener with her metric and rhythmic ingenuity, with juxtapositions of exuberance and lyricism, in which forward development and momentum are more important than exact recall or traditionally balanced structures. These features are particularly prevalent in the opening Allegro, whose recapitulation is a subtle and intuitive reconfiguration of earlier ideas.
The central Andante has an altogether darker hue, with a harmonic palette somewhat reminiscent of Hindemith. Here, as elsewhere, the string textures are prescient of later pieces, including the combination of harmonics, pizzicato and lyrical melody, or the concertante interplay, derived from the Baroque concerto grosso, of solo trio (violin, viola and cello) and tutti. Although the finale is notated in 3/4, it frequently cuts across this metre, and its structure is the most daring of all: hints at a fugal texture seem to suggest an imminent reprise, but the movement suddenly shifts into the coda and finishes with a cadential flourish.
from notes by Adrian Thomas © 2009