Moscow 1953: Stalin dies. The Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact pay tribute to the leader of the Communist world and at least officially people are overwhelmed by sorrow. Many thousands who had suffered under Stalin’s totalitarian regime might secretly have celebrate the day. Others may have chosen to stay silent. Or to express what they felt in a more discrete way. Warsaw 1953: Grazyna Bacewicz writes her Piano Sonata No. 2. An uncomfortable work mirroring an uncomfortable time. Stalin is dead, but you cannot rejoice. Stalin’s ghost lingers on, paralysing society, inspiring fear even from his grave.
One of the hottest days of this summer. The air is dead calm and the heat rests like leaden weights on my shoulders. I am walking across a deserted industrial site. I am waiting for the bus. And I make a discovery. A female composer. From a land not exactly predominant in classical music. Grazyna Bacewicz. She was born in 1909 in Lodz (Poland), she died in 1969 in Warsaw of a heart attack. I had been deeply impressed by Krystian Zimerman’s recording of Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 20 in A Major and I was looking for other recordings by Zimerman. And I found Grazyna Bacewicz’ Piano Quintet No. 1 performed by Rafal Kwiatkowski, Ryszard Groblewski, Kaja Danczowska, Zimerman and Agata Szymczewska.