This is the type of programme we hear all too often as young performers seek to show that they are all things to all men. Alicja Śmietana’s account of Bach’s Second Partita displays her impeccable technique, perfect intonation, a nicely rounded tone and a feeling for period correctness. Yet when you compare it with other performances, such as Alina Ibragimova’s on Hyperion, she doesn’t delve very far below the surface of the music. The opening Allemanda is wanting in subtle shades; the Corrente is vivacious, yet responds to a more playful approach; and though her final Ciaccona is a bold statement, it lacks contrasts. She muses her way through a lovely account of the Sarabande, however.
She shows that she is a most sensitive artist with the finely spun peace and tranquility of Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, although the atmosphere is somewhat compromised by the overly bright tonal quality of the piano. Glenn Gould’s Bassoon Sonata takes on a very different life when transferred from the pithy toned woodwind to smooth violin tones, and best of all is Previn’s Two Little Serenades, soothing and joyful. Sound quality is good.
From the November 2013 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.