Joanna Kurkowicz, violin; Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Lukasz Borowicz
Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969)
Violin Concertos Nos 2, 4, and 5
Wholenote Discoveries - September 2011
Chandos has issued Volume 2 of the Violin Concertos of the Polish violinist and composer Grazyna Bacewicz, and it’s quite stunning. Bacewicz (1909-69) was that 20th century rarity – a world-class violin virtuoso with compositional skills to match. Volume 1 featured Concertos 1, 3 and 7, and this new CD completes the set with Nos. 2 (1945), 4 (1951) and 5 (1954) (No.6 exists only in manuscript, and has never been performed). The three works here range from the somewhat Prokofiev-like No.2, with its mix of melodic and strongly rhythmic material, to the much tougher, terser world of No.5, as Polish music began moving away from the “formalist” Communist days. All three demonstrate Bacewicz’s innate understanding of the instrument, and her assured grasp of form and orchestration. The Polish-born violinist Joanna Kurkowicz, now resident in the United States, is wonderful throughout, and given terrific support by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lukasz Borowicz. An absolutely essential addition to the 20th century violin concerto record catalogue. Terry Robbins
This is Volume 2 in our series devoted to the music of Grazyna Bacewicz who was regarded by Witold Lutoslawski as 'a distinguished Polish composer of the twentieth century and one of the foremost women composers of all time'. Bridging the gap between the neo-romanticism of Karol Szymanowski and the modernism of Witold Lutoslawski, she deserves much wider recognition than she has received to date outside her native country of Poland.
The first volume was released in 2009 to worldwide critical acclaim, and the same strong partnership that achieved glowing accolades for the first volume here performs the stylistically diverse and technically brilliant Violin Concertos Nos 2, 4, and 5. On this recording, the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lukasz Borowicz is once more joined by the soloist Joanna Kurkowicz on a Petrus Guarnerius violin dating from 1699.
Praised in Gramophone magazine for 'disciplined virtuosity', Joanna Kurkowicz enjoys an active and versatile career as an award-winning soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. She has performed on many of the great concert stages of the world, including the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall, Boston, and the Große Saal, Salzburg, and has appeared as a soloist with the likes of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and the New England String Ensemble.
In the words of Joanna Kurkowicz, this recording project has been 'a tremendous journey through the incredible music of this fascinating composer... deeply personal and satisfying', and she continues: 'These works are like rare stones. You have to find them but once found they shine brilliantly.'