It’s not surprising that Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) wrote with great sensitivity for strings, beginning her career as a virtuoso violinist. Her body of work, which includes seven violin concertos and four symphonies, is receiving long overdue recognition. Bacewicz’s chamber works have been attracting particular notice, due in no small part to the fine work of the Silesian Quartet. Their recording of her seven string quartets was a finalist in many Best of 2017 polls (including Limelight’s), and rightly attracted rave reviews.
Here, the Silesian Quartet turn their attention to four other chamber works, beginning with the two Piano Quintets, for which they’re joined by pianist Wojciech Switała. The First, better known, Quintet dates from 1952 and is neo-classical in style with folkloric elements. Bacewicz’s Second Piano Quintet, from 1965, is considerably more experimental, with textural explorations, elastic glissandi and darker undertones. Both are superbly performed with palpable excitement, excellent balance and great dynamism and nuance.
Two other unusual quartets are included: the Quartet for Four Violins (1949) is an expressive masterclass in interplay between the four instruments, and the Quartet for Four Cellos (1963) a mysterious and quite riveting exploration of deep string resonances. The recording is stunning, with great depth and presence. Lovers of innovative high-quality writing for strings will find much to enjoy.