Though in the years since her death Grazyna Bacewicz has become regarded primarily as a composer, during her lifetime she was mainly known as one of the top violinists in Poland, in addition to being a fine pianist and teacher of music. Bacewicz's output for the violin is both large and significant and spans the whole of her compositional career; a compilation of her complete efforts in this realm would span several CDs. On Cambria's Grazyna Bacewicz: Music for Violin and Piano, violinist Arnold Belnick and pianist Sergei Silvansky usefully concentrate on accompanied violin works leading up to Bacewicz's masterwork in the genre, the Partita of 1955. Beginning with the Violin Sonata No. 3 of 1947, we can hear Bacewicz's style evolve from a hybrid resting comfortably on the border between neo-Classic and expressionism, progressing through some tougher material that takes into consideration the influence of Bartók into her mature, unique voice. This consisted of a highly rhythmic and chromatic approach, somewhat thorny but highly intense and reflecting Bacewicz's impressions of ideas found within Polish folk music.
The Partita marked a highpoint in Bacewicz's production; just around the corner was the advent of international serialism and its fetish for tonal organization, a development Bacewicz only half-heartedly adopted and later abandoned. Grazyna Bacewicz: Music for Violin and Piano contains dazzling virtuosic passages that would challenge even the most capable hands, but violinist Arnold Belnick has the situation well under control, with solid support from pianist Sergei Silvansky. The recording is a tad more reverberant than one might like, but this does not obscure the proceedings to a great extant. For those interested in Polish music after Szymanowski and before Penderecki, Grazyna Bacewicz: Music for Violin and Piano will serve as a more than suitable introduction to Bacewicz's music and overall style.