Showing posts from August, 2010

Chopin and His Europe Festival 2010 - Martha Argerich, Maria Joao Pires with Frans Bruggen and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century - Warsaw 30 August 2010

Am very pleased to hear that all my endless discussions concerning the importance of playing period pianos (at least as an educational experiment and not necessarily a career) was  justified in a live concert last night. Both Maria Joao Pires and Martha Argerich decided to do so and are such consummate musicians they adapted very quickly to the early piano unlike many others. I feared the worst – so happy that my expectations were not realised. If the publicity is to be believed this was the first time either pianist had played a period piano in a public concert. Amazing really. Nelson Goerner, the great Argentinian pianist and an Argerich protege, has made some superb recordings of Chopin on the Chopin Institute Pleyel ( The Real Chopin Series ) so Martha Argerich must have had some familiarity with older instruments I would imagine. I am sure that both pianists learned a great deal and had some fun too. Rather oddly (but very much in the spirit of nineteenth century practice) Pi

Chopin and His Europe Festival 2010 - Jan Lisiecki at the Filharmonia, Warsaw - Evening of August 25

In previous Chopin i jego Europa Festivals this almost indecently young genius of the instrument and  academic studies at school (15 years old and leaping years of formal teaching with ease and negligence) gave scintillating and idiomatic performances of both Chopin concerti. This evening's concert featured him in Mozart (the Concerto for Two Pianos in E major KV 365) with Howard Shelley on the second instrument and conducting the fine Sinfonia Varsovia. Lisiecki's limpid style, acute articulation and sense of grace suited the music to perfection. The fact that Chopin was to follow Mozart showed perceptive programming as his stylistic origins lie there and in the counterpoint of Bach rather than Rachmaninov, Scriabin and Prokoviev as so many seem to think. There was also a pleasant Overture by Chopin's contemporary, the popular Polish composer Karol Kurpinski and the first performance in modern times of an inoffensive Piano Concerto in C major Op. 14 by a forgotten con

65th. Duszniki-Zdroj International Chopin Piano Festival 6-14 August 2010

The 65th. International Chopin Festival at Duszniki Zdroj (a charming tiny spa in Silesia on the mountainous Czech-Polish border not far from Wroclaw) began on Friday August 6th. My enthusiasm for it and description will be familiar to all the readers of my literary travel/residence book on Poland A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland  (Granta, London 2009) now translated into Polish as Kraj z Księżyca: Podróże do serca Polski (Czarne 2010) Not all the music is by Chopin - Liszt, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Scriabin.....the entire piano repertoire is on offer. This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Chopin who visited Duszniki Zdroj in 1826 (then Bad Reinerz  in Silesia) for a cure suggested by his teacher the Silesian composer Joseph Elsner. Chopin gave a charity concert there and this is celebrated in modern times by an annual piano festival. Mendelssohn also came to  Duszniki Zdroj on ma