The new disc, Satin, presents a vivid cross-section of Bojanowicz and Frackiewicz’s musical partnership, and of Polish composition today. It’s superbly recorded on the Sarton Records label, both in terms of programming – five pieces receive their debut recording, composed for the musicians - and the acute sound quality, revealing the duo's vital readings of new pieces and established repertoire, and the immediacy of their musical interplay.
In pairing cello and accordion, they explore a startlingly distinct sound world, built from familiar component parts. For her encore at a January 2013 concert, Bojanowicz quoted one of Bach’s cello suites, pieces that have helped establish the cello as an important solo voice in our time; the accordion’s dramatic potential, with its harmonic expansiveness and “lung”-driven power, is readily associated with sweet or jaded voices. Midway through Satin’s opening track, by Hanna Kulenty, cascading cello figures with lively overtones meet Frąckiewicz’s ascending, assertive chords. It’s a bracing union, deft and energizing. After Hours of Muteness, by Rafał Janiak, has a raucous passage at a rapid tempo with the two instrumentalists in unison, their daunting precision made all the finer by their fluid, intuitive fusion (they began as a duo in 2007). Even the disc’s faintest moments show this rivetting exactness: Kulenty’s piece takes a protracted fade to silence, while the title track, by Aleksander Nowak, introduces sound and a strand of melody as if from nowhere. At its quietest, in fact, Satin is at its most captivating.
Bojanowicz and Frąckiewicz received the Passport award in January 2013 from Polityka magazine, for their ensemble, TWOgether. (The annual award, a mark of distinction in Polish culture, had its 20th edition and included a readers’ poll in the selection process.) The selections on Satin include solo pieces and is released under their names rather than that of the duo. Hypopnea, for accordion, draws fascinating low registers from an instrument more recognized for fleet high notes. Wojciech Blecharz, the composer, has had pieces in TWOgether’s repertoire since the ensemble’s inception. (He was also nominated for the 20th edition of the Passport awards.) The cello piece is Krzysztof Penderecki’s Divertimento, three virtuosic movements composed in 1994 and subsequently expanded.
Satin’s tracks extend from Penderecki and Kulenty (who received a UNESCO award for her Trumpet Concerto and a commission from the Kronos Quartet), to five composers born since 1979. Nowak, composer of the title track, was presented in a portrait concert at Kraków’s Sacrum Profanum festival in 2012. His Satin includes counter-rhythms for the instruments, compelling moments that pulse with the duo's exceptional interaction in recital. In Dariusz Pryzbylski’s Discours, the cello plays pizzicato, alternating a delicate melody with a strummed rhythm. The accordion hovers quietly – then hurtles into forceful runs and outbursts. Satin shows chamber music at its intimate, engaging peak, in a dialogue between the performers and today's composers that welcomes - and challenges - its listeners.
The two musicians graduated with distinction from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, Frąckiewicz after studies with Klaudiusz Baran, and Bojanowicz from the master class of cellist Andrzej Bauer, who invited her to join his Cellonet ensemble. Both are recipients of competition awards and scholarships in Poland and in Europe. At the Warsaw Autumn Festival in September 2012, their TWOgether recital was a highlight. Their authority in performance showed in dynamic extremes and in the austerity with which they play, focused on dramatics in their exceptional repertoire (none of which is on Satin). They were joined by mezzo-soprano Anna Radziejewska for Means of Protection, a study written for them by Wojciech Blecharz from his opera, which premieres at the National Opera in Warsaw in May 2013.
Satin was released in December 2012, on Sarton Records.