The Strad Issue: January 2007
Musicians: Patrycja Piekutowska (violin) Beata Bilinska (piano)
Composer: Szymanowski, Bacewicz, Lutoslawski

This refined recording, uniting three of the landmark works to emerge from Poland in the last century, provides a perfect showcase for two exciting young Polish performers.

This is an inspired reading of Symanowski’s early sonata, not least because Patrycja Piekutowska contrives to bring out the pervading lyricism while also successfully addressing the piece’s more abrasive side. Despite its bravura demeanour, parts of the Allegro are approached with marked tenderness, and Piekutowska is helped by the skill with which Beata Bilinska lightens Szymanowski’s obtusely thick textures. Some confidential pizzicato in the trio cheerfully offsets the entrancing falling motif that dominates the central Andantino. A couple of shifts of pacing in the bustling finale feel marginally less secure, but overall the work is splendidly advocated.

Although Szymanowski was Grazyna Bacewicz’s initial inspiration, the spare mood of her Fourth Sonata (notably the forlorn Andante) ventures closer to stark – or sprightly – Shostakovich. Both performers capture rivetingly the contrast between the Classical main theme and the folk-like subsidiary material of the opening Moderato. Bacewicz’s Scherzo, brimming with audacious wit, is taken at a lick, and Piekutowska, with attractively restrained vibrato, loses none of her rich tone as the movement hurtles to its enticing close. The finale is more spectacular still, with dazzling pyrotechnics.

The questing Largo and varied Presto of Lutoslawski’s Partita are both appealingly presented, and especially effective are two cadenza-like passages linking the three main movements, which draw beautifully expressive playing from these two striking, characterful performers. All three works come alive, thanks to the immediacy of this fine Polish recording.    r

Roderic Dunnett