Hyperion Records

1946; for string orchestra

'Bacewicz: Music for string orchestra' (CDA67783)
Bacewicz: Music for string orchestra
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67783 
Movement 1: Allegro ma non troppo
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Allegretto
Movement 4: Theme and Variations: Misterioso

In the last ten years or so, the Polish music publisher PWM has issued a number of works, including the first two string quartets, which Bacewicz had either held back from publication or had never included in her official list of works. The Sinfonietta is an example of the former and the Symphony for strings of the latter. The Symphony does not seem to form a direct link in the stylistic lineage between the Sinfonietta and the Concerto, and perhaps this was Bacewicz’s original reason for its exclusion. Its four movements are also altogether more serious, replacing the lightness of these flanking works with an earnestness that belies her innate sense of fun, as testified by everyone who knew her.

Like the Sonata da camera for violin and piano which Bacewicz had written the previous year, the Symphony has strong elements of Baroque stylizations. Yet the language of the opening movement of the Symphony can be gritty, disjunct and rhythmically driven in a way that anticipates the postmodern trends that emerged long after her death. Bacewicz remains true, however, to her idea of through-composed movements that merely nodded in the direction of conventional structures. The ensuing Adagio has a much thinner harmonic language and texture, at moments akin to Shostakovich, and there are passages where the music achieves a yearning, almost anguished intensity, anticipating the expressive depth that she would achieve in the later works on this disc. After the scurrying, relatively diatonic Allegretto, the Symphony ends with a Theme and Variations. It is perhaps not surprising that the formal divisions suggested by this title are by no means transparent and that the movement seems to develop across them with increasing vigour.

from notes by Adrian Thomas © 2009

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