CD review: Grazyna Bacewicz chamber music

First published in the Guardian on 2 March, 2017

Bacewicz: chamber music
Diana Ambache etc (Ambache)

Polish composer/violinit Grazyna Bacewicz summed up her music as “aggressive and at the same time lyrical.” She was right — try the 1949 Quartet for Four Violins as proof, with its fearless dashes from bruising dance to sparse elegy and back again. The piece is tactile and gritty; it was meant for teaching but never in a dry way. A handful of decent recordings in recent years have bolstered an interest in Bacewicz’s feisty music and this disc led by pianist Diana Ambache fills in more chamber music gaps. There’s the eerie Trio for Oboe, Harp and Percussion and the brilliantly dense, scurrying Quartet for Four Cellos. All the other works in the programme (folk dances, a theme and variations) show evidence of what a spirited violinist Bacewicz was herself. The sound of the recording has a homemade grain to it but the playing is top-notch, with violin duties shared out between David Juritz, Victoria Sayles, Richard Milone and Charlotte Scott and Diana Ambache unshakable at the piano.