Maria Sławek - Reviews


“Rejoice” reviewed by Fanfare Archive

This is a wonderful collection. It takes its title from Sofia Gubaidulina’s Rejoice! (Freue dich!), which accurately reflects my mood after hearing it. The sonata by Ysayë is for solo violin; the remaining works are for violin and cello duo.

The Bach Two-Part Inventions, of course, are keyboard works, but the arrangement by the present performers, violinist Maria Sławek and cellist Marcin Zdunik, is absolutely delightful, and the music is impeccably played. Their spot-on intonation is remarkable, and they interact with the same unity of purpose you would expect from the two hands of one player on a keyboard instrument. This is playing with expression and a variety of touch and color that maintains the listener’s interest throughout the 26-minute length of the set. The music becomes a true conversation between violinist and cellist, each playing off the other. As a different take on these 15 Inventions this is an extremely refreshing and engaging experience.

‘Rejoice’ reviewed in

Auf den ersten Blick stehen bei dieser Aufnahme die Inventionen von Bach den Werken des 20. Jahrhunderts gegenüber. Doch diese drei moderneren Kompositionen haben jeweils ihren Bezug auf den barocken Komponisten, sei es durch direkte Bezugnahme, den Titel und die Ausgestaltung oder auch die tiefe religiöse Vertiefung der Musik. Die Sonate von Ysaÿe und das Duo Rejoice von Gubaidulina sind in der Originalbesetzung zu hören. Die Inventionen von Bach waren ursprünglich für Cembalo gesetzt, die Ciaccona von Penderecki wurde aus der Streichorchesterversion übertragen.

Maria Slawek und Marcin Zdunik zeigen diese verschiedenen Sichten in der ganzen Breite der technischen Anforderungen und der stilistischen Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten. Während sie bei Bach die melodischen Linienführungen gestalten, modellieren sie im Übrigen harmonische und technische Gestaltungsmomente heraus und geben damit jedem Werk eine individuelle Prägung. Dabei ist ihr Diskurs mitunter auch harsch, aber nie abweisend zueinander. Man spürt bei beiden Musikern ihre jeweilige Kenntnis der Merkmale der Stile als auch die Verbundenheit der Instrumentalisten miteinander. Diesem Gespräch lauscht man gerne.

In this combination of works by Bach and by some modern composers the latter are in various ways connected with the baroque composer. Maria Slawek and Marcin Zdunik show these different perspectives in the full range of technical requirements and stylistic expressions. In one inspired dialogue, they succeed in giving each work an individual character.

The Strad

Kraków-based violinist Maria Slawek wrote her doctoral thesis on the violin sonatas of Mieczyslaw Weinberg, and her interpretations undoubtedly benefit from her academic explorations and her knowledge of the background against which the music was written. These three works – his last two sonatas and a Sonatina – date from 1947 to 1953, years that were dominated by the anti-‘formalist’ doctrine of Andrei Zhdanov when everything had to be easy on the ear and project a positive view of life. All three end in the requisite major key but, as with the music of Weinberg’s mentor Shostakovich, the way to that resolution is not always simple or free from irony. The last of these pieces, indeed, was composed after Weinberg had just been released from the Lubianka prison – thanks both to Shostakovich’s intercession and the fortuitous death of Stalin – after his arrest for the ‘crime’ of promoting Jewish nationalism in his music.

Fanfare Magazine

The dark shadows of Mieczysław Weinberg’s music recall the works of his friend, mentor, and sometime protector Dmitri Shostakovich—a grim yet noble power comes to the fore in Weinberg’s moments of intense, almost Expressionistic declamation, although it’s not relieved, even periodically, by Shostakovich’s nose-thumbing sardonic humor. Maria Sławek wrote her doctoral dissertation on Weinberg’s works for violin and piano, but that in itself would hardly qualify her to play them with the authority she brings to them. She draws a rich, strong tone from her Charles Gand violin from 1817 — who says you need a Stradivari or a Guarneri? — a tone that recalls the strength of David Oistrakh’s in works by Shostakovich or Prokofiev, along with a similar sense of absolute conviction. These qualities characterize her performance, with pianist Piotr Różański, of the composer’s Fourth Sonata, from a bleak period in his life — unfortunately, all of his periods seem to have been bleak in one way or another, as both Nazis and Soviets oppressed him—and the sonata seems to reflect the period of its origin. From march-like episodes to soaring lyricism, perhaps too sinuous to sound entirely ingratiating, Sławek holds the listener’s rapt attention. The Allegro ma non troppo that follows seems to provide relief, but its more rapid tempo gives no distraction from its somewhat lean emotional power. In the finale’s transitional cadenza, it’s clear that Sławek can create an almost overwhelming impression all by herself — place a violin in her hand and be prepared to be lifted from your seat (or squashed into it).

Skip to content