The Strad issue
Alluring accounts of three concertos by a Polish composer–violinist
Joanna Kurkowicz (violin) Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Lukasz Borowicz
Until her retirement from the concert stage in the early 1950s as the result of a serious car accident, Polish composer–violinist Gra?yna Bacewicz was her own music’s most distinguished advocate – she premiered the Second (1945) and Fourth (1951) Concertos, while the Fifth was first performed by Wanda Wilkomirska. The restless ostinatos of the Second Concerto’s opening movement recall the neo-Classical hustle and bustle of Sibelius’s Third Symphony, the Fourth suggests parallels with the lighter Kabalevsky, while the Fifth is more individual in tone, if with a distinctly Parisian inter-war accent, although the music remains resolutely tonal in essence.
As in her first release in this series featuring concertos nos.1, 3 and 7 (no.6 remains in manuscript form only), Joanna Kurkowicz proves the ideal exponent of these impassioned scores. She propels the music’s many passages of vivacious brilliance with virtuoso élan, retaining absolute tonal focus and immaculate coordination in even the most challenging of coruscating sequences. Yet what makes the deepest impression is her golden-toned sincerity in the slow movements, in which she soars aloft with a cantabile radiance of ravishing allure. Lukasz Borowicz and the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra sound equally captivated by Bacewicz’s exuberant invention, and the sumptuous yet detailed engineering is beyond reproach.