Acte Préalable and
the confidently capable Amar Corde quartet continue their foray
into the world of Bacewicz’s works for string quartet in this,
the second of the series. Volume One began with one of her most-performed
works and continued with her intriguing and wonderfully-written
Piano Quintet No. 1.
This volume begins
with one of her least-compromising works, the 6th
quartet, written in 1960, and first performed posthumously ten
years later. This piece fits in with her seventh quartet, composed
five years later, in its focus on colour and texture over theme
and development. The result is a work of high tension as it
begins — loud exclamations, intense conversations between parts,
and quickly-whispered sections fill the first movement.
The second movement
starts immediately with a great deflation, then expands into
a virtuosic piece full of great technical demands on the ensemble.
The string parts slide as if chasing each other across an oiled
floor, skittering in their individual progress, but also sliding
past each other as well. The slow movement centres around one
note which is obsessively returned to. A restless piece, which,
with this note, implies a period of held breath before the outburst
of the final movement. This busies itself with its various parts
before suddenly joining forces in an emphatic statement that
is just as rapidly deflated with downward glissandi.
String Quartet No.
3 follows. Composed in Paris in 1943, it begins as emphatically as many of the statements
in the final movement of the 6th, but not long after
we find ourselves in a more familiar tonal world. Immediate
parallels here are Prokofiev and especially Shostakovich. Bacewicz’s
voice here is confident and this first movement sparkles. The
Amar Corde quartet throws off such sparks casually and truly
The second string quartet,
here a world premiere recording, begins with more of the extrovert
tendencies of the third quartet. This piece begins more shyly
though, with the main theme brought out by the cello as the
others pick out notes pizzicato. The melodic line transfers
effortlessly to the first violin, where it soars. This is a
war-time piece — and, for that, not at all a nostalgic work,
though one in which one hears the stresses of that era. The
quartet was premiered in Warsaw in the
Boleslaw Woytowicz café, a haven for Warsawian musical culture.
With other works already available, this quartet fell by the
wayside in post-war Poland. It is
ably presented here.
As in Volume 1, the
Amar Corde quartet performs these works with great confidence
and assurance. These are world-class performances of works that
deserve a wider audience.
Acte Préalable Catalogue