Cumbria Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
1:03 AM 24th February 2024

Classical Music: Bacewicz Orchestral Works Vol 1

Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) Orchestral Works Vol 1

Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Overture

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo
Igor Yuzefovich leader

Chandos CHSA 5316

Having reviewed a Chandos release featuring Grażyna Bacewicz's Chamber Works, (Classical Music: Mendelson And Bacewicz Chamber Works) I was eager to hear this Polish composer’s orchestral music.

I was not to be disappointed. The quality of the orchestral writing, its excitement, and its scale are impressive; this is not surprising because, despite being a first-class violinist, she gave up her solo work to join the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra as its leader and took studies in Paris: composition, with Nadia Boulanger and violin with André Touret (1932–33) and Carl Flesch (1934–35).

Those influences shine through, with high-level energy sparking like a welder creating spangles of light, as Sakari Oramo and the BBCSO entice the listener into Bacewicz’s clever and imaginative symphonies.

Bacewicz was working within the constraints and limitations of the Soviet regime, and despite the extreme experiences and difficulties she faced during this undoubtedly most tragic time in Poland’s history, she managed to compose outstanding works that constitute splendid testimony to the vibrant creative potency for which she was renowned.

Oramo and the BBCSO have anatomized the colourful orchestration and luxuriate in producing a razor-sharp aural narrative that has hints of Shostakovich and Walton. The edginess of the works is skillfully portrayed with moments of powerful drama where fast and furious commotion recedes to beauty. 

The energetic drive is captured brilliantly by the trio of conductor, orchestra and sound engineers; the minutiae are never lost. A disc full of charisma.

The third movement of Symphony 4 is particularly beguiling, with the woodwind and brass yielding the fleeting sounds of Janáček. The moodiness of the final movement creeps up through the strings.

To round off this first volume of Bacewicz’s works, hold on to your hats for a six-minute joyous whirlwind of energetic sparkling and rhythmic fizz in her Overture.

Magnificent playing from all sections. 

Katarzyna Naliwajek, in her thoughtful and well-researched notes, sums it all up: ‘It is thrilling that in this recording by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of its Chief Conductor, Sakari Oramo, orchestral works by Bacewicz should now receive such a beautiful and thoughtful rendering.'