Jablonski Aces Bacewicz Piano Works

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

This splendid disc will appeal both to piano mavens and fans of good twentieth-century music alike. Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-69) was a very distinguished composer, and although better known (perhaps) for her solo violin pieces, she had a real feel for keyboard sonority and color. All of the music on this splendidly played disc is worth hearing. As with any self-respecting Polish composer, she follows in the footsteps of her great predecessors, Chopin and Szymanowski in particular, and yet manages to inject her own energetic and forceful personality into the mix.

The two piano sonatas are impressive works. No. 2 was said to be her favorite piano piece, and it has been recorded several times, most notably by Krystian Zimerman for DG, but Jablonski has nothing to fear from the competition. It’s a richly expressive yet compact work in three strongly etched movements, and Jablonski captures the energy of the two outer ones (the final Toccata is quite a ride) brilliantly, while offering an island of bittersweet lyricism in the central Largo. The First Sonata was only recently published, edited by Jablonski, who can claim a certain proprietary right to its four passionately expressive movements. You can’t come away from hearing this without being impressed.

The two sets of etudes are delightful, mostly vivacious (a couple are more introspective), aptly challenging, but also musically interesting. Bacewicz wasn’t a tunesmith, but she had a splendid feeling for harmony–when to indulge the more spiky kind, and when to suggest something more traditionally consonant. Her music moves forward with purpose, and rewards the time and attention that you give to it. You can listen to this first-rate disc straight through without a moment’s hesitation. It should win her many friends, I should think, not just for Jablonski’s excellent interpretations, but also for Ondine’s gorgeous sonics.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None for this coupling

    Concert Krakowiak; Ten Concert Etudes; Two Etudes on Double Notes; Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2

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