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Bacewicz: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Oramo

Bacewicz: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Oramo

Chandos  CHSA 5316

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Bacewicz: Symphony No. 3, Symphony No. 4, Overture

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo (conductor)

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Review by Graham Williams - December 5, 2023

Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969), often hailed as a trailblazer in 20th-century Polish music, takes centre stage in this groundbreaking SACD release, the inaugural volume of a series dedicated to her orchestral works. In the more than capable hands of Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, here playing with considerable commitment, this collection showcases Bacewicz's significant role in shaping the musical landscape of her time.

Bacewicz's illustrious career, praised by luminaries like Witold Lutosławski, is marked by a prolific output that includes four symphonies, seven string quartets, seven violin concertos, and two piano quintets. This release, spanning the years 1943-53, offers a captivating journey through her evolving style, blending native Polish folksong with a daring embrace of modernism.

Grażyna Bacewicz may not be a household name in British audiences, but this release serves as a testament to her enduring legacy. Her departure from Szymanowski's lush Romantic style to embrace neoclassicism in the 1930s is evident in the balance she strikes between tradition and innovation, a feat that garnered recognition in her lifetime, regardless of gender.

Symphonies 3 and 4 were composed a year apart in the early 1950s and both adopt a conventional 4-movement format. Bacewicz's white-hot inspiration is evident in every bar of these compelling compositions. The music teems with ideas that are developed with absolute confidence throughout the course of each work and it possesses an unrelenting drive and energy, that is especially evident in the Symphonies’ whirlwind scherzos. The inclusion of the short yet vibrant 'Overture' from 1943 adds a delightful dimension to the collection, showcasing Bacewicz's ability to infuse her music with irrepressible vitality and exuberance.

The clean acoustic of Fairfield Halls, Croydon where the recordings were made in February this year, allied to the excellent engineering of Ralph Couzens, ensure an impactful and crystal-clear sound quality that allows the intricate details of Bacewicz's compositions to shine, making for an immersive and rewarding journey for the discerning listener.

It would be hard to imagine finer performances than these from Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and I await with eager anticipation the next instalment in this series.

Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2023 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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