Grażyna Bacewicz realised at a very early age that her main purpose in life was to compose music. Already during the 1920s, as a student of Łódź Conservatoire, as part of her lessons in harmony and counterpoint, she made attempts at composing, in which she tried to resolve nagging technical problems and impart an artistically satisfying form to them. She grew up in an atmosphere of anti-romantic tumult and the emerging neoclassical style. She assimilated the main attributes of that current in a natural way: the need to forge logical formal constructs based on new harmonic principles, not determined by the major–minor system, and also a freedom in the shaping of textures, a fixed element of which was the combining of homophony with more or less strict polyphonic forms.
One example of such a strategy is the String Quartet from her student years, signed with the date 1929–1930, which the composer did not include in her official catalogue of works. In the first movement (Allegro moderato), one can distinguish two principal subjects, served in the form of the incomplete exposition of a fugue. The chromaticised first subject, with its strongly highlighted head motif, appears in the cello, with an answer coming four bars later in the first violin. After a short bridge, the first violin intones the second subject, of a different character (dolce), and the answer appears a bar later and an octave lower in the viola. Both subjects can be heard also in the closing coda, and the space between them is filled by counterpoints based largely on ostinato figures of various sorts – a technique that Bacewicz would hone to perfection in her later work.
The middle fughetta (Molto adagio), with a subject stated just once, and in only three parts (cello, first violin, viola), acts as an intermezzo.
The third movement (Allegro molto moderato) is a double fugue with strongly contrasting subjects. The first subject, in the form of a chromaticised melodic continuum, exposed by the cello, is initially shown with the traditional arrangement retained (answered by the viola and second violin at a fifth, and by the first violin an octave above). The second subject (energico) is a structure shaped by the opening repetition of a motif of perfect fifths, then octaves combined with staccato-tremolo figurations. As the work unfolds, the two subjects appear simultaneously in original and inverted form, coming together in the closing Cadenza in a uniform idea crowned by strong (fff) chords repeated towards the end. - Małgorzata Gąsiorowska
- ISMN 979-0-2740-3104-6
- Language of edition: pol, eng
- Cover: softcover
- No. of edition: 1
- Published: 2021
score and parts