66th Duszniki Zdroj International Chopin Piano Festival, Poland (Revised Version)

The Dworek Chopina Duszniki Zdroj where most of the piano recitals take place

The superb 2011 copy by Paul McNulty of one of Franz Liszt's favourite instruments by Boisselot & Fils, Facteurs du Roi, Marseille. The original instrument won a Gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1844. This instrument is exhibited as part of the Franz Liszt - A European in Weimar series of exhibitions in that remarkable town. It is part of the Kosmos Klavier exhibits in the Palace Museum.

   Click on all photographs to enlarge (taken with Leica D-Lux 4)

I will be keeping my customary blog of the outstanding pianists performing at the 66th International Chopin Festival at Duszniki Zdroj from the evening of August 5th to the evening of Saturday August 13th.

It promises to be a particularly remarkable festival this year with so many prize winners performing. Wunda opens the parade of brilliance, Trifonov closes it and in between Avdeeva, Lugansky, Armellini, Bonatta, Goto (winner of the 2011 Utrecht Franz Liszt Competition), Geniusas and Kozhukhin. The Master Classes will be taken by the charming and deeply musical German-Austrian pianist Prof. Jan Gottlieb Jiracek von Arnim, the quite amazing Chopin and Beethoven world authority, Polish musicologist Prof. Irena Poniatowska and the outstanding Italian pianist and conductor Prof. Andrea Bonatta.

One can walk in the morning in the invigorating pine-forested mountains of the former Silesian Bad Reinerz or attend a Master Class followed by a late afternoon and evening recital. The romantic Nokturn event by candlelight lies mid-way and of course each day one approaches in trepidation the Chopin Spring to take the smelly waters with a draught from the traditional spouted drinking cup...rare moments of bliss and oblivion ahead in this crazy and violent world of ours.

Join me if you wish...

Thursday August 4th

The drive from Warsaw to Duszniki yesterday was fairly horrendous. There was an alarm malfunction at my flat which delayed departure until 12.00 noon. Almost gridlocked traffic on the two routes out of Warsaw in a southerly direction. There are major roadworks on both parts of the Krakow or Wroclaw route. Anyway it took around 9 hours with vast trucks and crazy white van drivers everywhere. To bed exhausted.

Long walk in the pine forest this morning to set me up for the inaugural recital this evening. The festival this year is focused specifically on Liszt and Chopin and the relationship between them. Later next week Professor Irena Poniatowska will give a lecture on this concentrating on Liszt's biography of Chopin and its fraught history. Most of the participants are playing Liszt but only Lukas Geniusas has had the courage to tackle the Sonata in B minor - to my mind one of the greatest works in Western piano literature. I recently heard the Alfred Brendel interpretation of this work (many have forgotten he was a renowned Liszt pianist and the final work he played before retiring from the concert platform was by Liszt). He lifts the work to great heights of spiritual intensity and profundity eschewing the surface viruosic rhetoric of most interpretations. A monumental reading which you really must hear on CD before the close of 2011.

The inaugural recital at Duszniki will be given by the very popular Ingolf Wunder who many people (especially Poles) feel should have won the 2010 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. He was awarded joint Second Prize with Lukas Geniusas, who is also performing at this festival. However I remain of the Trifonov camp...

You may like to read some of my report from last year's Duszniki Chopin Festival 2010 as Denis Kozhukhin has returned this year.

Friday August 5th

The 'main men' of the Duszniki Festival in happy mood about to lay flowers at the Chopin memorial at the opening ceremony. Lt to Rt. Piotr Paleczny (Artistic Director), Stanislaw Zielinski (Yamaha Europe) and Andrzej Merkur (Festival Organisation)

Ingolf Wunder (20.00)

Wunder opened his recital with Chopin's Bolero in C major op. 19. He captured the rhythm of this 18th century Spanish dance very well and it was festive way of opening the festival. It has always been my favourite among Chopin's less serious works. The Ballade in F minor op. 52 was sensitively thought through as a narrative, even opera, in absolute music but as Chopin once commented himself in a rather tantalising way 'In an otherwise excellent performance the Polish element was missing.' Would I really know not being born Polish but I did imagine I felt this lack. The Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise op. 22 is clearly a favourite work for Wunder as he often performs it. For me (and such matters are intensely personal - we all have our own concept of how a Chopin piece ought to 'go') his interpretation of the polonaise lacked sparkle and accuracy. If one has studied the art of dance in the 19th century the opening bars of a traditional danced polonaise are a true 'summons to the dance floor' for the assembled company. Although Chopin' s polonaises are not obviously intended to be danced, this earlier work clearly has all the hallmarks of the dance and I was simply not rhythmically carried away. The Polish pianist Wojciech Switala is magnificent in this work if you can obtain a copy of the rare recording he made for Katowice Radio some years ago as a young tyro.

By the interval it was clear that Wunder appeared rather tired and not on top of his form for some reason. The Mozart Sonata in B-flat major KV 333 was a fine restrained 'classical' performance but lacking a little in the refined elegance, and underlying conversational, operatic aria nature of so much of Mozart's keyboard music. Staying in Vienna Wunder then took up the Liszt/Schubert arrangement of his Soiree de Vienne No. 6. This is such a beautiful work my heart rises with nostalgia for a more civilised past every time I hear it. Wunder's performance was subtle and refined with all the organic understanding of the Viennese dance forms one could expect from an Austrian pianist. However this piece was often played and recorded by the giants of nineteenth century pianism such as Josef Hofmann, Leopold Godowsky and perhaps the greatest recording of all by Josef Lhevinne. I have many of these historic recordings and of course having become a spoilt brat musically I am unreasonably demanding whenever I hear anyone at all play this work other than such titans.

The final work was Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.6. The Gypsies had held Liszt in thrall since childhood and his own written account of his visits to their camps is a brilliant piece of descriptive travel writing. Seated on a pile of fur skins eating meat and honey offered by wild men and wilder women, rings and bangles glinting in the firelight, he observed: 'Flying to their violins and cymbals, they began a real fury of excitement. The friska ('fast') was not long in rising to a frenzy of exultation, and then almost to delirium.' Wunda certainly adopted a demanding tempo and in many ways brought off a pretty abandoned performance. I noticed what I thought were the sound of castanets clicking away in perfect rhythm to the music. 'Now that's odd' I thought. 'How is Wunder producing a castanet accompaniment? What a wonder!' Then I noticed the little elderly lady sitting in front of me tapping the heels of her sandals in time to the music on the wooden floor of the room. Click-clack went her feet and her tiny grey head bobbed up and down in abandonment to the rhythm and melody. 'Ah yes' I thought 'The great F. Liszt still weaving his popular magic across two centuries!'

Saturday August 6th

Masakata Goto (16.00)

As he had just won the 2011 Liszt Competition in Utrecht I had high expectations of this pianist but they were only satisfied to a limited degree. He began with Beethoven as I imagine he wanted to point out the profound influence Beethoven had on Liszt. He chose the Sonata No. 30 the E major Op. 109. This is an ambitious choice for such a young pianist and although digitally it held no terrors, his control and variety of dynamics, articulation and inner structural harmonic meaning could have been more representative in the 'classical' sense. Beethoven, despite his revolutionary nature and inadequate instruments that only just coped (and sometimes simply did not) with the demands of his musical imagination, he did belong to a tradition. The Rondo in G major op.51 although not lacking in period charm, suffered similar problems of depth and variety.

He chose the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.13 which was a particularly discriminating choice. Not a warhorse by any means, it is a piece full of sad Gypsy yearning with many anguished intervals typifying the lassan or 'slow' type of Gypsy improvisation. This was a fine peformance of the work to my mind only slightly in need of more cultural bridges to a fuller understanding of the music of these passionate wandering people. His technique was quite breathtaking in the last and 12th. Transcendental Study Chasse-Neige (literally translated as 'snow plough'). This superb and difficult piece of musical narative describes in sound the inexorable build up of a covering of snow over the landscape from those first tentative swirling flakes of white.

Of course if one can play the piano like this digitally (a miracle in its own way - a gift of God surely this inexplicable natural degree of fantastic brain hand co-ordination) teachers have a responsibilty to provide a deep and proper cultural and historical context of both composer and piece for the student. So few teachers do this - pressure of time, guiding the student's technical mastery, structural analysis (the bete noir of our times), competition preparation, their own careers also on the line. This lack could not have been clearer in the Polonaise No. 2 in E major which showed little understanding of the nobility and slow commanding grace of this dance with its military bearing - the movement of the cloth of the kontusz and zupan (traditional items of Polish costume in the nineteenth century), the smoothing of the moustaches with an aristocratic gesture, the arrangement of the sabre. Every young pianist should watch the final scenes of Andrzej Wajda's film of the Polish literary epic Pan Tadeusz, in fact the whole film, before playing polonaises. I also feel they should actually learn to dance as well - it is so helpful in sorting out rhythm and beat emphasis and feeling the dance in your body - indispensible. The fact many polonaises, mazurkas and waltzes were not intended by composers to be danced is irrelevant to an understanding of the danced source.

Masakata finally and courageously chose to play the relatively rarely performed operatic paraphrase Reminiscences de Norma of Bellini. His lack of dynamic variety and understanding of bel canto song made the work a tremendous piece of virtuoso piano music but it remained mired in its magnificent display. Norma is such a superb tragic opera. Before attempting a Liszt paraphrase one should study not only the operas of the period and their cultural traditions but in the case of Norma listen to Dame Nellie Melba's rendition of the aria Casta Diva which made her so famous and the Tsar and Leo Tolstoy weep. Such an historic recording is thin in sound, alarming even to our modern high-fidelity ears, but it is a cultural link, however tenuous, with past traditions of bel canto. Chopin, a master of ravishing melodies, advised pianists to learn to sing as the only way to make the piano itself sing. He also loved Bellini. One cannot help but agree but do teachers really apply this principle to their students rather than merely referring them to Eigeldinger's book on Chopin?

We are losing contact with the source of so much nineteenth century music and its meaning for composers of the time in our search for physical dominance of the intrument. Some feel this loss is not important as every age interprets the past through its own filters and obsessions. One ventures too far from the source at one's peril - the outline of the ship is fading fast as it passes over the horizon of time - it glides by the reef.

Denis Kozhukhin (20.00)

I had heard this artist last year at Duszniki and was terribly impressed with his brilliance and natural musical gifts. He had just won the 2010 Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition in Brussels. This year was no exception except that I was even further overwhelmed by the extraordinary nature of these gifts. He has attracted the finest of teachers (Bashkirov, Fou Ts'ong, Rosen, Berman, Staier, Frankl....Masterclasses with Tureck, Fleisher and De Larrocha).

He began what turned out to be a remarkable musical evening with the Haydn Sonata No. 59 in E flat Major Hob. XVI: 59. It was in a beautifully honed and immaculate 'classical' style and with just enough Sturm und Drang to tell us that the Romantic Movement was on its way. The Finale - Tempo di Menuetto was full of infectious humour with an elegance and wit that had me chuckling at Haydn's manly and robust character.

He next chose the enormous musical scope, power and giant structure of the Brahms Sonata No. 1 in C major Op. 1. I had never heard this sonata performed live and only ever heard it once or twice in recordings. The second Sonata in F sharp minor (my favourite key) is better known (Sokolov has given us a mighty performance of it on Opus 111). Dedicated to the great violinist Joachim and published in 1853 the first was actually written after the second but Brahms thought it was a finer work. In the 1850s Brahms had spent 6 weeks as Liszt's guest in Weimar but actually preferred the musical life of Gottingen and soon returned there. Schumann played a major role in the publication of the sonatas of Brahms. I had visited the Brahms House in Baden-Baden on my recent trip and felt his innate modesty as a man and integrity as a musician. I could also not help thinking of the young Brahms and his frustrated love for Clara Schumann especially in the Andante and throughout this towering youthful performance of the fiery, romantic and joyful early work of a young exuberant man. Kozhukhin clearly revels in his 'discoveries' as last year he performed a piece by Ligeti.

The final part of the concert was devoted to seven of the Liszt Transcendental Studies. What tempestuous, commanding and poetic performances they were! From the great announcement of the Preludio (1) we moved on to the A minor (2). Ferrucio Busoni felt that the piece resembled rockets being launched where the right hand almost leaps from the keyboard. Paysage (3) conjures up the idea of countryside and Arcadian scenes - Liszt as a young man apparently was inspired during a train journey to write the piece. Certainly from his colourful travel writing Liszt was was often inspired by the nature of travel itself, a sense of not remaining in the same place for too long. The bravura of the etude named Eroica (7) followed this peaceful work. Then the well-known Etude in F minor (10) where Kozhukhin pushed the limits of drama and passion to their utmost but without breaking through the sound ceiling of the Steinway. In the small room of the Dworek Chopina it was tremendously loud but never harsh or uncomfortable. A physical/musical experience of a high order of magnitude and sheer excitement indeed. Kozhukhin's interpretation of Harmonies du Soir (11) was one of the great musical experiences of my life. He understood so well the harmonic avant-garde forward looking nature of this piece. It was a desperately moving moment as the central melody resolved itself and soared carrying one's heart and soul. This was Liszt the poet, the true Romantic spirit and Kozhukhin took us on a flight the like of which is rarely experienced in the concert hall.

He closed the group with an earlier etude from the set, the terribly demanding and technically awesome No. 4 Mazeppa. Liszt was tremendously influenced by literature and opera as were most composers of his day. In this he was probably inspired by Victor Hugo's poem concerning Mazeppa. However Lord Byron's poetry and scandalous life also had an incalculable influence on the creative artistic Europe of the time. His magnificent and haunting transcendental poem Mazeppa is a case in point. Every pianist should also read Byron's poem on the subject to accelerate their imaginations beyond the keyboard.

Kozhukhin adopted a far more moderate pace than many of the nineteenth century titans who played this piece as a repertoire warhorse. I think the work benefitted from this in power and poetry. He did not simply play it as a vehicle for virtuoso rhetoric which of course it is but only in part. One must remember that the Polish page Mazeppa was tied to the wild horse naked and facing backwards when it was galloping across the Ukrainian steppe and this gives the limping rhythm such authenticity. If one has ever ridden a horse, the idea of it galloping when one is tied to it facing backwards...oh and naked....the torture for both animal and man is too ghastly to contemplate. Mazeppa's apparent death and exhaustion were deeply moving but in the finale his triumphant spirit lives on when he survives and becomes a prince or king.

This recital was a fine and upifting human experiece of the highest order of technical and musical achievement.

Sunday August 7th

In the concert shell in the Spa Park a 'Piano Marathon' began at 10.00am. The Japanese pianist Yukio Yokoyama, who in 1990 won Third Prize at the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw at the age of 19, is playing 5 hours of Chopin. This is a charity event to raise funds for the victims of the recent East Japan earthquake. 'I believe that, as a musician, what I can and should do in response to this disaster is continue to devote myself each day to a sincere and diligent approach to music.' In Tokyo recently he actually played all 212 works of Chopin in a single day.

Add Yukio Yokoyama playing in the 'Piano Marathon' in the Dusznki Zdroj Spa Park

Gintaras Janusevicius

Kozhukhin has blonde hair and wears it in a tidy pony-tail while this pianist has a wild unruly mop and 'artistic' short beard - more of the jazz pianist type seen across a smokey crowded club in the small hours in Vilnius. Although born in Moscow he began his studies in Klaipeda. I have been to this region known in Lithuania as the Curonian Spit and it is truly a glorious part of the Baltic and a very historic city. Thomas Mann had a summer house at Nida and there wrote Jospeh and his Brothers. Nature is ever present in Lithuania and in many ways the country is exactly as I had imagined Poland to be but was not before I first came to Warsaw in the early 1990s. Undeveloped, rural with magnificent pine forests, wooden cottages painted yellow ochre, deserted beaches with huge sand dunes and most importantly hardly any unregulated, crude advertising hoardings which mars so much of the Mazovian plain and beautiful landscape elsewhere in Poland. Superb architecture in magnificent Vilnius and the most beautiful flaxen haired girls I have ever seen. One would not expect an artist hailing from this environment to be ultra sophisticated and he was not - a truly refeshing change from academic super-correctness and civilised elegance.

He began with a Prelude by the extraordinary Renaissance man, composer and symbolist painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. I visited the museum in Kaunas entirely devoted to his works - there is a room for listening to his compositions and a huge gallery displaying hundreds of his paintings, letters (mainly written in Polish not Lithuanian) and other memorabilia. A remarkable genius, so unjustly neglected in Western Europe. The museum gives one a great insight into what Lithuanians see as the historical colonisation of their country by Poland. I think if one wants to have a complete picture of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth one must visit this beautiful country.

This prelude was not in the programme so he then spoke to the audience and explained it as well as elucidating the reasoning behind his choice of programme. " I am so full of happiness and honoured at being asked to play in this place so connected to the spirit of Chopin." My great uncle, the Australian pianist Edward Cahill, used to speak to the audience and explain in the same way and it builds an immediate sympathetic connection between artist and listener. He began with an unbridled reading of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata Op. 53. I liked this 'undisciplined' account very much - a great rush of powerful, raw energy. The professors in the audience were clearly troubled by it. However it made me think about our concept of Beethoven as a man and whether he really was, as so many superb pianists such as Brendel and Barenboim, present him - an immaculate classicist cascading into Romanticism. This account reminded me of Furtwangler's glorious pushing of the limits of acceptance in his unfettered account of the symphonies. I remember visiting the Beethoven birthplace house in Bonn where as a young man I was astonished to see that the keys of one of his pianos had been worn through the ivory capping down to the wood beneath. Yes, Beethoven was going deaf later in life but this really gave me pause for thought in addition to the wild nature of his written manuscripts. Hm...

The Chopin group was less successful to this treatment I felt although the Barcarolle had some lovely periods when I believed the boat was on a disturbed Venetian lagoon or Italian Lake (as Chopin surely conceived it) rather than a lifeboat tossed in the midst of a typhoon in the Atlantic - an all too familar reading. The group of Schubert/Liszt songs did not seem to reflect much listening to Fischer-Dieskau. Liszt loved Schubert's music to distraction and readily understood the refined and melancholic lyricism in the shadow of death that threateningly hangs about these works like cobwebs from the eaves. The Erlkonig arrangement suffered rather badly from being dynamically over-inflated. The music of the transcription of Tristan and Isolde always moves me dramatically as it takes me back to a more passionate youth of love madness and his performance was excellent. The final work was the Liszt Dante Sonata which always makes my hair stand on end no matter how it is played. For me it is the absolute apex of Romantic expression, a magnificent musical structure second only to his Sonata in B minor expressing a true fear of death and the Christian horror of losing the throw of dice and being thrown into the Inferno. However perhaps one must be a true believer to enter this piece and have at home a skull on the mantle as a momento mori of what is in store for all of us. Dante and Milton combine here in terrifying substance....

In short, for me but not for all, a completely refreshing and natural, almost wildly passionate approach to the piano, a very personal statement and so making both friends and disagreement. I think we need to take care sometimes in our super-academic, 'correct' musicological approach to music prevalent these days. It can drain the rich red life blood of music. Those who know me will find this amusing as I play Chopin at home from the National Edition on an 1844 Pleyel pianino. However it is good to be reminded of the untutored source of music in pagan magic once in a while.

Yulianna Avdeeva (20.00)

A not particularly wonderful photo of Avdeeva at the conclusion of last night's recital

After this magnificent recital what doubt could possibly remain in anyone's mind that Adveeva was by far the most worthy winner of the International Chopin Competition in 2010. 'In a different league altogether' as someone commented to me last night. All of my comments made during the competition on this blog stand untouched. In fact I felt she had improved enormously even in the short ten months of international engagements since her win. Her upright contained posture at the instrument helps her create this wonderful sound. She is so utterly committed physically and intellectually to every note she plays it is deeply involving for the listener. This recital was absolutely prepared down to the final nuance. In all the greatest peformances there is nothing left to say, simply to leave the hall in silence.

In the Chopin group, the two Op. 62 Nocturnes were ravishing with superb control of touch, tone and pianissimo playing. The Scherzo in B minor Op. 20 was incadescent in its articulation, glittering tone and variety of dynamic, the central contrasting lyrical section so moving in its ardent yearning. The four op. 33 Mazurkas were full of Polish indigenous rhythmic variety and subtelties and the final Polonaise Fantasie contained all the troubled emotion and desire for strength in the face of the multiple adversities that beset the composer at this late stage in his life. She grasped that difficult and complex structure completely - a profund interpretation to my mind.

However it was the Liszt that she reigned supreme for me. She chose three late Liszt works that are extraordinarily forward-looking in their adventurous harmony and invention. They were also written at a time when Liszt was facing the reality of death quite apart from its theatrical Gothic aspects which had so attracted him in his youthful Byronic phase. The La lugubre gondola II of 1885 is a profoundly disturbing and dark work reminding one that gondolas on the Venetian canals were likened by more than one Romantic poet to black coffins - even Mme de Stael discoursed on this dark subject. Avdeeva followed this with Liszt's Nuages gris of 1881 and gazed into the heavens as if seeing the grey clouds hovering there, clouds without silver linings, her superb touch giving an impressionistic feel to the sound like a painting by Monet or a piece of Debussy. Liszt wrote this rather morbid work when suffering from various ilnesses and accidents which impinged on his sense of continuing life. The work anticipates the Viennese school of Mahler and Schoenberg and he clearly saw a way forward out of what many regarded as the prison of cadential resolutions. Avdeeva created an extraordinary atmosphere with this work. She then embarked on the Bagatelle without Tonality (IV Waltz Mephisto) which to my mind were the melancholic reflections of an old man beset by reminiscences of his past life, compositions, echoes, shadows of his virtuosic past that haunt like grotesque spectres this quite astonishing and deeply expressive work. Avdeeva was really able to penetrate these mysteries with her complete technique. Finally the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 17 in D minor seems (at least to me) a type of anger at the transient nature of mortality. This group of pieces and the way Avdeeva interpreted them gave me real cause to question my sometimes all too superficial judgement of this great composer Franz Liszt.

Her recital concluded with by far the finest account of Liszt's transcription of Wagner's Overture to Tannhauser I have heard, a much earlier work. Her commanding technique enabled her to create a full orchestral sound with all its variety and clarity - astounding really - and for me more than a little moving having just returned from a pilgrimage to Weimar and Bayreuth investigating the complex friendship between Wagner and Liszt. At the age of 14 this Overture was the first music that ever moved me to the authentic depths - I remember this moment as if it was yesterday.

Avdeeva received tremendous applause and an instant standing ovation. The audience begged and begged for encores the last of which was a scintillating piece of Scarlatti. And yet after the concert I spoke to a few members of the audience who thought Avdeeva was a 'cold' and an uncommunicative player. One referred to what she described as a sheet of glass that seemed to be erected between the pianist and the audience. Many women (I am not being sexist here, just observant) simply cannot empathise with her at all, perhaps the most outstanding young female pianist of her generation. Then there was all that kerfuffle in Warsaw over her Chopin competition victory. All very mysterious to me...how personal a thing is musical taste!

To my mind this aristocratic player with her majestic, slightly severe profile and almost regal posture is a master of the control of emotional passion, its containment and expression - tensions and relaxations being the very breath of musical life. She is in the process of becoming a very great artist indeed and we are privileged to witness this growth.

Monday August 8th

Click on photos to enlarge

A highly expressive morning Master Class with the Austrian academic and outstanding pianist Professor Jan Gottlieb Jiracek von Arnim. He was working on the the Piano Sonata (1948) of the acclaimed modern French composer Henri Dutilleux with Yumi Palleschi who had courageously chosen to learn this fiendishly difficult work.

Leonora Armellini (16.00)

And so we began a Liszt-free day of Italian charm, seductiveness, grace and fine musicianship.

The sweet, young (19) Italian Leonora Armellini was immensely popular with the audience during the 2010 Chopin Competition in Warsaw and many were shocked when she failed to progress beyond the second stage. This lovely girl on the cusp of womanhood, her winning smile and superb playing got me thinking about the immense importance of a concert pianist's personality and the ability to communicate muiscal thoughts directly to the heart and mind, especially today with our general glorification of image over substance. Artur Rubinstein went so far as to believe that an electromagnetic emanation came from the pianist which suffused the audience more or less powerfully. This is of course completely absent in recordings. I do feel there is something in his unprovable theory and can think of numerous examples when it has been demonstrated. Certainly the Duszniki Festival permits one to see such a power in operation and observe its effects. The Alexander Gavrylyuk phenomenon is a case in point.

She began with an excellent account of the early Beethoven Sonata in C major Op. 2 No. 3. Her velvet tone quality, sure technique and charm as well as complete grasp of the classical style (the sonata was dedicated to Haydn) were clear throughout. The virtuosic first movement displayed her complete command of the keyboard. This was followed by Clara Schumann's Variations on R. Schumann Op. 20. I am not over-familiar with this piece but it contains great charm and an evident love of Robert's music by one of the most renowned pianists of her day. Leonora captured the sentiments well. The Novelette in D major Op. 21 No. 2 was an excellent choice. These pieces by Schumann are not so often performed in modern programmes today although they were popular a few decades ago in concert programmes. My great uncle and many other concert pianists played them often between the wars. She brought off the immense character, rather mercurial nature of Schumann's writing very convincingly.

The Chopin group of pieces began with his first two Ballades. I felt she did not allow the dense narrative structures of these two pieces to breathe sufficiently and rushed the detail. I felt that her superb technique and youth seduced her into an impetuous response to these mature compositions of Chopin. Many young players in the competition were prey to a perfectly understandable revelling in their own extraordinary digital dexterity. I recall another remark by Artur Rubinstein when asked why he played an obviously virtuosic passage so slowly. He replied revealingly 'Because I can.' As I watched her in the competition I felt this 'out of breath' feeling too I remember.

However in the Tarantella these so-called 'faults' worked to her tremendous advantage and it was one of the most convincing accounts of this piece I have ever heard. The victim of the poisonous spider bite (by the Tarantula) traditionally became well and truly beside himself, increasingly and madly so by the triumphant conclusion under her fingers at a super tempo. I just loved it. The Nocturne Op. 48 No.2 was sensitively thought through and her soft tone and seductive touch suited the piece perfectly. Then came a complete surprise. How can a young girl produce a noble and majestic account of the A flat-major Polonaise I thought before she began. She achieved this nobility magnificently to my mind and gave us a reading that was full of heroic sentiment and noble miltary resistance in the face of the great Polish nationalist adversity. The famous inexorable repeated left hand octave passage was brilliantly brought off with perfectly controlled depth of tone and degree of detachment which powerfully summoned up the cavalry. A great performance of a piece I have heard how many times by how many pianists since living in Poland?

Oddly enough one of least satisfying performances I have heard was in Warsaw by the great Daniel Barenboim, whom I admire to the stars as a musician, conductor and pianist, when he came to Poland in 2010. He was tempted by an absurdly overblown theatricality in his performance - a cliche. Ah, the complex secrets of playing Chopin well....ask a Pole about how a Mazurka rhythm should 'go' and watch the smile of satisfaction when you inevitably get it wrong! Remember Chopin's violent argument with Mayerbeer on this very question?

Francesco Piemontesi (20.00)

I do not usually have time with all this research and writing I do to follow the careers of developing young pianists and the loss is all mine. At the age of 28 the Swiss-Italian Piemontesi has already had an illustrious career and played in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world including the Musikverein in Vienna, Martha Argerich's Lugano festival and the BBC Proms.

He began with the 1905 Sonata by Leos Janacek, a work I was entirely unfamiliar with. As it stands now it has two movements - Foreboding and Death. One might think this work was certainly not 'a laugh a minute' but actually the sound palette is so adventurous, so restless and the sense of anger so strong one tends to overlook the titles of the movements. There are some interesting reasons behind its composition. Janacek wrote the work as a fierce protest against the murder of a carpenter, Frantisek Pavlik, who had been killed with the thrust of a bayonet on the steps of the main Meeting House in Brno. He was supporting a proposed new seat of learning, a university in the Czech city. A furious Janacek immediately wrote this as a three movement work but destroyed the third movement, a funeral march. Some time after the premiere he tried to destroy the rest by throwing it into the Vltava River, likening the manuscript to white swans as it floated away. Fortunately a pianist familiar with his volatile temperament had made a copy. I will need to hear it more than once to come to any significant judgement on Piemontesi's reading but it was certainly an unusual way to begin a recital containing mainly Viennese classical works. The work established an atmosphere of reflective poetry over the entire evening which never evaporated but simply became increasingly intense as his recital progressed.

He then played or rather made an extraordinarily successful transition to the Chopin Prelude in C sharp minor Op. 45 and the first two Mazurkas from Op. 59. This moving Prelude was played with immense poetry, almost as a quiet meditation on what had gone before and the Mazurkas reminded me of the tone quality and spirtually aristocratic restraint achieved by Michelangeli.

The period Piemontesi spent with Alfred Brendel became clear from the very opening bars of Beethovens' Sonata in A Major Op. 101 and yet it was is own voice. This emotionally affecting work is Beethoven at his most intimate and sensitive. Piemontesi brought a classical poise to the work, wonderfully married to warm emotional life.

From the outset it became apparent that he is a deeply sensitive musician, a true poet of the instrument, who has cultivated a refined tone, a far lower level but much wider range of expressive dynamics and articulation than many young artists. Too many young players begin so loudly and choose such fast tempi they literally have nowhere to go when they require it, finding themselves trapped in a cul de sac of sound entirely of their own making.

The entire second half of the concert was taken up with the Sonata in A major D. 959, one of the last sonatas by Schubert. This was a truly great performance and a profound emotional experience for the entire audience here at Duszniki. The pianist collected us around his soul. The range of expression was remarkable, the movement from one reality to another or one dream to another, the flashes of memory and sense of bleak alienation produced an atmosphere in the hall the like of which is rarely experienced in a public concert. The silence was palpable - one could hear pin drop even between movements - not a sound - for the entire long duration of the sonata.

The silences within the work itself, within the harmonic and rhythmic structure (so important in Schubert's last sonatas and all music for that matter) were deeply utilised by this pianist as 'blocks of sound' full of meaning. They were such pregnant silences, silences that expressed the deeply troubled, febrile yet poetic spirit and soul of Schubert - a man searching for a secure anchorage as his life slipped away.

Piemontesi did play encores - a charming piece of Francois Couperin and so, so appropriately for this entire recital, the last piece in Schumann's Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) Der Dichter spricht (The Poet Speaks) in one of the most sensitive performances I have ever heard. Reduced me to tears (no, not common).

As someone mentioned to me later, his playing moved one in a similar way to the spiritual refinement, modesty, musical commitment and sensitivity of Dinu Lipatti. This will be one of my most memorable musical experiences - there are only a few - almost there with Richter playing Beethoven Op. 111 in Blythburgh parish church at the Alderburgh Festival by the light of a single tiny lamp so many years ago now.

The audience at Duszniki stumbled out into the damp dark night moved as rarely before...

Tuesday August 9

Lecture by Professor Irena Poniatowska (11.00)

Concert by the Prima Vista Quartet and Recital by Karolina Nadolsk

The amazingly energetic and irrepressible Professor Irena Poniatowska gearing up for her lecture on Chopin and Liszt
This was a highly entertaining as well as informative lecture on the relationship, both personal and musical, between Chopin and Liszt. It was peppered with amusing anecdotes and musical illustrations. She spoke of Chopin arriving in Paris from Warsaw fully formed as a composer even though he was rather young. He absorbed no further musical influences. Liszt on the other hand continued to absorb influences from many sources and developed as a composer throughout is life particularly during the Weimar years. She recounted an incident where Chopin was playing a piano in a Paris salon and one of the linkages on the pedals broke. Liszt was reputed to have crawled under the instrument and operated the pedals while Chopin played the keyboard. She played a quite phenomenal historic recording of Paderewski playing Liszt's La Leggierezza and the Consolation No: 2

Andrea Bonatta (16.00)

Andrea Bonatta in rather a noble mood whilst taking a Master Class with Piotr Novak on Chopin's 'Heroic' Polonaise    Op. 53

He is one of the most renowned of Italian pianists and among a long list of illustrious accomplishments is Artistic Advisor to the Liszt Competition in Utrecht. He designed a very interesting programme as well as taking Master Classes at the Dusznilki festival. The Harmonies poétiques is one of the most important cycles of pieces Liszt wrote in addition to the Annees de Pelerinage. The work was partly written at Woronince (1845-51) the Polish-Ukrainian Estate of Princess Carolyn von Sayn-Wittgenstein née Ivanowsky. Other earlier choral works were transcribed and reworked for the cycle. However the collection, inspired by the French poet Lamartine, was finally assembled in the form we recognize at Weimar. For me it is the beginning of an authentic attempt by Liszt to reconcile his catholic spiritual aspirations and his worldly nature – a battle fought within by many artists in their attempt to be ‘good’ – well at least in far more religious nineteenth century Europe. The sincerity of Liszt’s religious convictions is still misleadingly questioned in the light of his worldly career as a travelling cosmopolitan virtuoso, his brilliant keyboard pyrotechnics coupled with a rather amoral bohemian life style as a young man.

The rarely performed Invocation is prefaced by these ecstatic words of Lamartine:

Rise, voice of my soul,

With the dawn, with the night!’

Bonatta interpreted this as a grand chorale for piano and the contrast with the simplicity and spiritual contemplativeness of the also rarely performed Ave Maria was particularly effective in this ornate baroque church with the piano placed right on the altar before the tabernacle - a theatrical and religious gesture Liszt would never have been able to achieve in his own day but may have imagined. Unique.

We then heard as a type of interlude in the cycle three interesting late works rather unfamiliar to me. The Trauervorspiel und Trauermarsch (1885), Petöfi Szellemének (Dem Andeken Petofils) In Memory of Petöfi (1877) and the Bagatelle without Tonality (IV Waltz Mephisto) of 1885. Sándor Petöfi was a great Hungarian poet and political agitator whose poems inspired the 1848 Hungarian revolution. Friedrich Nietzche, who was an amateur composer, set some of his poems to music. I felt that Avdeeva’s account of the same Bagatelle was superior however and more haunting.

The Hymne de l’enfant à son réveil and the Miserere d’après Palestrina from the Harmonies poétiques. The Hymne de l’Enfant (1845) is actually an arrangement of a piece for female choir with piano and harp to text by Lamartine. Rarely heard - most beautiful and meditative. The Miserere was based on a melody from a motet that Liszt heard at the Sistine Chapel which I believe was not actually by Palestrina at all. Another rarely performed and interesting work. We then heard La Lugubre Gondola. Liszt was fascinated by venetian funerals and the coffins set on gondolas. This work was composed by Liszt as a type of premonition of Richard Wagner’s death in Venice in 1883. The piece eloquently evoked the future water-borne funeral procession by gondola (the boat itself likened to a coffin by Mme de Staël and others) of Richard Wagner body from Palazzo Vendramin to the railway station on its way for burial in Bayreuth. Bonatta’s recital concluded with piece from the an appropriate and carefully chosen piece from the Harmonies poétiques the great masterpiece of Western piano literature the Bénédiction de Dieu dans la Solitude. This is perhaps the greatest in the collection together with Funérailles. Again prefaced by poetry from Lamartine whom Liszt had met 

Whence comes, O God, this peace which overwhelms me?
Whence comes its faith with which my heart overflows?

In this setting of the church the serene spirituality and rhapsodic contemplation of the mystical is almost unsurpassed in nineteenth century piano music. It reminds one of an extended conclusion to the celestial closing bars of the B minor Sonata.

This was a wonderful and carefully considered recital by a mature pianist who has no need to hysterically display keyboard prowess, but a man who has gone beyond the notes to a different world of contemplation.

The Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, Duszniki Zdroj, Poland

The piano placed on the altar at the church of Sts. Peter and Paul Duszniki Zdroj, Poland

The extraordinary baroque pulpit in the form of a whale in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, Duszniki Zdroj, Poland

NOKTURN  (22.00)

This candlelit evening with participants in the festival is always a delight. This year the musicologist and teacher Elżbieta Artysz supplied the interesting commentary that precedes the playing of each piece. Most of the audience make an effort to dress up particularly the ladies and wine is available thoughout the evening. I will not go into each work performed and the performer himself as many works are repeated in solo recital. I would however wish to single out Jan Gottlieb Jiracek von Arnim who was involved in the Master Classes (pictures above in action). He gave a superb account of Schubert’s Impromptu in A major Op. 142 No 2. What a superb pianist well as teacher he is. Karolina Nadolska played two wonderfully sentimental pieces by Paderewski –the Chant d’Amour in G major Op. 10 No. 2 and the Polonaise in B major Op. 9 No. 6.

If Paderewski had been writing for films he would be the most outstanding composer for the cinema ever – and this is not at all a criticism. Wonderful music that I find so moving on less demanding human intellectual level to the great composers. For the first time in my experience at Duszniki we also had a baritone singing songs by Koczalski, Karlowicz and Chopin. This was most affecting and a reminder of the incalculable loss of music-making in the home with the upright piano which was such a feature of unnumerable middle-class and aristocratic families in Europe up to the arrival of television and computer games – the death knell of family life to my mind (the family who watches together does not stay together). It is the source of so many of our contemporary parenting and educational troubles.

The 'Top Table' at the Nokturn

Wednesday August 10

Aleksandra Swigut  (16.00)

An interesting aspect of the Duszniki is watching young pianists develop over time. I watched Aleksandra Swigut when she was a student attending Master Classes here. She was always a distinct personality that stood out and her choice of programme indicates she has very clear ideas of what she loves to play.

She opened her recital with Haydn’s Sonata in C minor Hob. XVI/20 which she despatched with wit, verve and a clarity of articulation, minimal use of pedal and ‘classical’ short phrasing that was a pleasure to listen to – balanced, poised and elegant. This was followed by a similarly elegant account of the Bach French Suite in C minor BMW 813. The absolute joy and delight in playing this music that suffused her features was quite affecting – profound pain, sweat and suffering is the usual countenance that distorts the face young pianists I note! This sort of thing is hard to empathise with as a member of the audience when you are not actually playing the work yourself. So we all felt happy for once. Again the rather percussive (not so much as the great ‘War Sonatas’ of course), angular nature of Prokofiev’s early Sonata No. 2 op. 14 seemed to suit her playful temperament terribly well.

After the interval she set about the late, psychologically and musically complex Chopin work the Polonaise-Fantasie in A flat major op. 61. Oddly I felt she was not really at ease with this work and that it did not chime with her sunny outlook on life and music. I suppose like many foreigners I think all Polish pianists must love Chopin and play him with unique insight. Rather a foolish idea. A young pianist must perform such works before an audience to gain experience of coherently presenting this tremendously difficult huge structure under stress.

Cleary the Szymanowski Scheherazade from Masques Op. 34 was much more to her liking. He wrote that he intended the pieces in Masks to be in ‘quasi-parodistic’ in style and this delightful mercurial, sometimes oriental atmosphere was brought to the fore very successfully by Swigut. She finished with a rather demanding contemporary piece I had never heard before by the really quite extraordinary half-Russian half-Tartar composer Sofia Gubaidulina (1931- ) called Chaconne (1961). It owes something to J. S. Bach and the composer’s devotion to him and the Russian Orthodox Church throughout her life.

Aleksandra Swigut playing the the Nokturn

Lukas Geniusas (19.00)

This young Russian-Lithuanian pianist was much anticipated in Duszniki as he had been awarded joint second prize with Ingolf Wunder at the 2010 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. He was particularly popular among discerning members of the audience. In this recital he would perform a huge programme. The first half devoted to the complete Chopin Études Op. 10 and op. 25 and the second half to Liszt’s B minor Sonata.

However I hope you will excuse me if I begin with a quote from a travel article I wrote for The Australian newspaper following my first visit to the great country of Lithuania. I think it illuminates the sort of spirit that animates this tremendous pianist and to a slightly lesser extent his Lithuanian compatriot Gintaras Janusevicius. Both were born in Moscow but…

Along the Amber Shore

‘A mighty thunderstorm broke over the remote village of Perloja. Bolts of lightning fitfully illuminated the stern features and powerful armoured chest of the Grand Duke, sword drawn and cape thrust over one shoulder. The village had withstood the Northern Crusades in 1378 and the plague of 1710. High on a burgundy-coloured plinth strengthened with steel railway ties to foil its destruction, the stone guest gazed beyond a legendary horizon above an inscription in a language related to Sanskrit “Vytautas the Great! You are alive for as long as there is at least one Lithuanian”. Fortified by domestic military units under the protection of its emblem, a bison with golden hooves and horns surmounted by a Christian cross, the villagers fought Poles and Bolsheviks. The fiercely independent settlement declared its own Republic and joined partisans to battle the Soviets. A decidedly cinematic scene saw me standing in a tempest beneath that monumental effigy of the last great ruler of Lithuania.’

I cannot in the limited space analyse his approach to every etude but each one was considered as a masterpiece of the form in itself and given the concentration each demanded as such. No-one in their right mind would have contemplated playing both sets in a recital in the nineteenth century so here we have a demonstration of the extraordinary progress we have made in the simple mechanics of mastering the notes let alone the psychological and physical stamina required to play them. He shed new light on each one, not always successfully but in the main a revelation of really individual thinking and the pleasure that he has something unique to say about each one. Inner voices were revealed (not simply for ‘show’ but inherently structural), rhythms explored and a remarkable coherence emerged for each set of etudes, a distinct character that made each distinct as a collection. He has a complete technique that is quite breathtaking.

In the Liszt B minor Sonata I felt he was far less successful. Just to have this vast work in your fingers is a massive achievement but what you do with this is another matter altogether, what you have to say about this work. This is a profound work, too often played as some type of hectic fantasy or dream fantasy when it is actually in many respects a philosophical dialogue between different fundamental aspects of the human spirit as symbolised by Faust, Mephistopheles and Gretchen. Liszt was tremendously influenced by literature and poetry in his compositions and in particular Goethe’s Faust, the dramatic spiritual battle between Faust and Mephistopheles with Gretchen hovering about as a seductive, lyrical feminine interlude. And it is a far more complex musical and structural argument than that rather trite account would indicate.

The more Liszt I hear in this festival (and we have heard tremendous amounts in a short period of time and will still be doing so today and tomorrow) the more I feel he needs rehabilitation. He seems under so many hands to still remain the boisterous show-off, the cause of tinnitus, the breaker of pianos, the showman which in essence marked his virtuoso years and blighted his reputation as a serious composer. He abandoned an incredible concert career, travelling an extraordinary journey in itself in those days by coach and horse estimated at hundreds of thousands of miles. We have a different attitude now thank God to the inventor of the form of the Symphonic Poem, the author of the Faust Symphony. He spent so many contemplative years spent composing and suffering neglect and social exclusion in Weimar.

We really need to re-examine how he played, his effect on discriminating members of the audience. One lady described his eyes as being ‘like incandescent grapes’. I think we have had enough of ‘the vapours’ whilst listening to Liszt. We (the listening public) think we know this man in B movie terms but do we really? Take for example this remark by Moritz Rosenthal, his great pupil, on Liszt’s playing: “…the embellishments were like a cobweb – so fine – or like the texture of the costliest lace.” Do we ever hear such things today except perhaps in historic recordings where tone and touch were paramount, not structure and form. Such precious remarks are ignored when we are ‘Down in the Quarry’ with so many pianists and their teachers today.

Chopin once very ironically confided to Liszt:

I am not suited to public appearances – the auditorium saps my courage, I suffocate in the exhalation of the crowd, I am paralysed by curious glances . . . but you, you can, since if you should fail to win over the audience you at least have the possibility of murdering them.

Lukas Geniusas gave us a monumental reading of the B minor full of fire, volume and tremendous virtuosity but understandably lacking in the depth one must find as a pianist in this profound work. I am sure his interpretation will deepen in time – he is so young and has such ‘genius’ to make a very obvious link with his name. It is not fair to compare such a young artist with mature pianists who have had years and years to think and come to deeper conclusions. Alfred Brendel is not a pianist one immediately associates with Liszt but his early career was in some ways built on his playing of the Hungarian. His account of the sonata is one of the finest as he eschews much virtuoso display and the usual virtuoso rhetoric we have come to associate with this piece. Claudio Arrau held me spellbound by the almost Beethovenian depth of his reading in the Festival Hall in London many years ago. Horowitz summons up the sulphur of Hell, one’s hairs stand on end, from the very opening notes of his 1936 recording. Perhaps one of the very greatest however is the more recent recording by Krystian Zimerman, a perfectionist and man of the greatest musical integrity. All of these Liszt readings possess an uncommon depth.

This was a great recital and thought-provoking in so many ways. The Chopin was staggering and all that time ahead to develop and mature in the Liszt – wonderful!

Thursday August 11th

The Duszniki Zdrój festival need not all be about music. There are some particularly interesting nearby towns in Lower Silesia to visit. The main one is Kłodzko but on this occasion I decided to spend the morning exploring a once famous spa town known as Lądek Zdroj. It is about 50 kms from Duszniki. Founded in 1498 it has a superb baroque spa building that dates from the late seventeenth century. Famous intellectual luminaries such as Goëthe and European royalty of the order of Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm II & III, Polish Kings, Tsar Alexander I of Russia and even John Quincy Adams the 6th President of the United States frequented the town to ‘take the waters’ through the centuries.

The Rynek or Market Square, Ladek Zdroj, Poland

A perfect cat who happened to be siting in a window at Ladek Zdroj as I passed by

The baroque Wojciech Spring building at Ladek Zdroj, Poland

Interior detail of the baroque cupola at the Wojciech Spring, Ladek Zdroj, Poland

Thursday August 11th.

Eduard Kunz  (16.00)

The BBC Music Magazine included the Russian pianist Eduard Kunz in their ‘10 great future pianists’ list. The quality that brought them to this judgement was evident in his outstanding recital. He opened with a group of four Scarlatti Sonatas which I thought were superbly rendered with a complete understanding of the period style and sonority modified for a concert grand piano of 2011. The Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BMW 1004 was far less successful to my mind. The dynamics were far too greatly ‘Busonised’. Although I feel Kunz was attempting to transform the piano into a great seventeenth century Thuringian organ it did not really come off well and mere thunder replaced the 16’ stops.

At the Nokturn he had played the eloquent Evocation from the Iberia Suite of Albeniz and performed it again with equal sensitivity and sensibility. I was also very taken with the Paderewski Nocturne in B major Op. 16 No. 4. I really must learn this piece myself – it conjures up that period in Europe before the horrors of disillusionment with humanity and its nature that followed in the wake of the Great War. Ah….the sensibility and cultural refinement we have lost….

He followed these with a particularly lyrical Rachmaninov Etude Tableaux Op. 33 no. 2 ‘Lilacs’ and two of his Moments Musicaux Op. 16 Nos. 3 and 4. He closed his blissfully short (compared to other listening marathons this week) recital with Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C minor. It was excellently played (as our modern tradition and contemporary teachers conceive of Liszt) but we were all looking forward to the Schubert Sonata in A major Op. 120 D 664 he had originally intended. I think we could have all done without the broad strokes of this rhapsody in view of the extreme sensitivity and colour that had gone before.

A wonderful artist from whom I would to hear some Chopin – he plays with a similar restrained dynamic that the composer is reported to have used - so uplifting and full of sensibility. Perhaps being born in Siberia has definite geomagnetic effects on the musical spirit.

Nikolai Luganski  (20.00)

I have always thought that the costume in which a concert pianist presents himself on stage gives us some indication of how he will approach the music, particularly if this is extreme in one way or another. This was certainly the case with Nikolay Lugansky. He is clearly a perfectionist of a high order. Today where audiences and pianists dress in any way they feel suits them rather than in the manner of Castiglione’s Courtier, in a manner that will give refined pleasure to the spectator, Lugansky was superb. He wore a full tailored white tie outfit with tails, the entire ensemble of clearly expensive fabric that moved as only such expensive fabrics do. The shirt studs that closed a freshly laundered marcella formal shirt were discreet mother of pearl set in gold. A perfectly tied white bow tie closed a detachable wing collar starched to a glistening sheen as is absolutely correct. This ensemble was completed with a white silk cummerbund and patent leather shoes.

He is rather tall and handsome and his whole aristocratic appearance immediately reminded one of Chopin’s own refined discrimination and elegance of dress. Such care indicated a close understanding of the composer, his own elegance and expense of dress as well as respect for his refined compositions. It also indicated his feeling this the Dwor was special place to be playing Chopin. ‘Absolute rubbish!’ I hear you cry. ‘Michael raving about cosmetic aesthetics again that have nothing to do with classical music! Many great pianists dress dreadfully.’ But, sorry, this is not exclusively so. Love of music shows itself in respect and a sense of ceremony one aspect of which is a high degree of care in dress. Consider in this light the Cherubino almost en travestie costume selected by Avdeeva and her commanding and powerful almost ‘masculine’ interpretations. ‘More nonsense Michael!’

Lugansky did not disappoint musically. He opened with a finely toned and sensitive Chopin Nocturne in F major Op. 15 No.1. The Barcarolle did not begin with the terrible thump as if the boat had crashed heavily into the wharf at the beginning of the voyage as is usual with this work. The lake become agitated in the course of the piece but poetic reflection remained and it was never absurdly overblown by cyclones and typhoons. The Prelude in C sharp minor op. 45 was very moving in an entirely unsentimental way. As the recital progressed I came to feel I was actually listening to a recording so perfectly were these pieces presented in terms of sound quality, touch and restrained ‘classical’ sensibility as is appropriate with so much of Chopin. The great Scherzo No. 4 in E major op. 54 was ‘painted’ with wonderfully controlled balance of texture and colour so important for this less hectic scherzo that contains so much glorious bel canto song – Lugansky made the instrument sing so affectingly and sensitively I was reminded more than once of Artur Rubinstein. This was followed by more singing in the D flat major Nocturne Op. 27 No.2 and a lovely control of the inner voices. The Ballade No. 4 in F minor Op. 52 one of the greatest pieces in piano literature was also a very fine performance of an absolute musical narrative except the conclusion where I felt he rushed the narrative and was surprisingly overtaken by virtuosic considerations.

Now to the Liszt. Lugansky began with that immense work the Vallée d’Obermann from the Années de Pélérinage Première année. Suisse. I adore this work, Liszt inspired by literature once again – the novel Obermann by Étienne Pivert de Senancour.

‘The vast consciousness of Nature, everywhere overwhelming and everywhere unfathomable, universal love, indifference, ripe wisdom, sensuous ease – all that the mortal heart can contain of desire and profound sorrow, I felt them all.’

(Obermann from Letter 4)

I have been in love with the work since my teens. Lugansky gave it the fullest mystical impression of grand Swiss landscape one could ever imagine in one’s mind’s eye – a magnificent interpretation to my mind. Horowitz was fond of this work and his interpretation at his 1966 Carnegie Hall recitals was always the greatest to my mind. Liszt himself wept on hearing it again later in his life – the memories it evoked for him were so strong.

Lake Geneva and the Alps from Glion above Montreux taken on my recent research trip to Switzerland. 
The Chateau of Chillon so beloved of Lord Byron is in the bottom left-hand corner

Lugansky then played the impressionistic Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este from the Années de Pélérinage, Troisième année. His control of glistening tone, articulation and colour were quite superb. Liszt would gaze for hours at the play of the waters in fountains and elevated this work into his own personal mystical realm by quoting in Latin in the score Sed aqua quam ego, dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae alientis in vitam aeternam (loose translation: ‘But whoever drinks of the water I shall give him, shall never thirst but shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life’). Nothing else remotely like this work was written until Ravel wrote his own Jeux d’eau. Liszt has the last word on ‘fountain music’ to my mind.

The beautiful Sposalizio (‘Betrothal’) from Années de Pélérinage, Deuxième année came next, much of this second volume inspired by Liszt’s first powerful contact with Italian Art in the form of poetry, painting and sculpture. The impact of my first demolishing encounter at the age of 26 with the art collected in the Uffizi in Florence has never left me. Liszt was inspired by Raphael’s painting The Marriage of the Virgin which depicts the marriage of Mary and Joseph and is in the Brera Chapel in Milan. A reflective interpretation indeed.

The final two works in his programme were two Etudes d’Exécution Transcendente. If a pianist is to play these works convincingly he must have complete and utter command of the keyboard and rise above the virtuosic elements until the simple structure beneath is revealed. Few pianists can actually do this without communicating a sense of exhaustion and ‘fabulous difficulties successfully overcome’ to the audience. Not at all what these studies are about. Lugansky gave a phenomenal performance of No:12 Chasse-Neige in B flat minor. Towards the end of the work there is a final huge flurry of snow or perhaps avalanche that builds from deep in the bass of the instrument and roars up the keyboard like an unstoppable cataract of Nature into the treble. Lugansky produced a sound the like of which I have never heard before on the piano – a tsunami of sound - quite fantastic and terrifying at once – like a great swell on the organ without the feeling of separate notes – an incredible sound. What a performance that was…

Between these two pieces a remarkable incident occurred that demonstrated the extraordinary emotional control, nervelessness and collectedness of this pianist. One of the bevy of beautiful Polish usherettes who assist at the festival came in mistakenly early after Chasse-neige to present him with a bunch of roses. From the stage where he was bowing and spying her out of the corner of his eye, he made a beautifully discreet gesture in her direction with his finger that it was ‘not yet time’. She retreated much covered in confusion. When he did finally complete his recital and she now came robustly forward, the audience smiled and chuckled good naturedly, the lovely girl as crimson as a stop light at an intersection.

Then to complete this recital No: 10 in F minor which Liszt had reworked from an earlier juvenile study. The reminiscences of Chopin seemed to be incontrovertible in this work but I felt Lugansky could have been more abandoned emotionally by the wild passion of it – like the wild Tzigane Gyorgy Cziffra in his monumental monophonic Angel recording of the Transcendental Etudes many years ago.

I thought this an absolutely magnificent recital by a finished artist of the highest quality. Olympian in achievement, not sensationalist. And yet…and yet…the audience seemed slightly held back although incredibly enthusiastic. Why was this? No standing ovation but great enthusiasm and many encores. Have we heard too many ‘immaculate’ studio recordings of piano music and are becoming blasé at the keyboard miracles young pianists are actually achieving these days?

I have always thought him a very special pianist and more importantly, supreme musician. I had first heard him many years ago in Warsaw playing Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring in the Myra Hess arrangement. Not usually a work to make one actually tearful…

Friday August 12th

Sara Daneshpour

In many ways for me this was the most surprising recital of the entire festival. I knew little of this lovely young lady, of Iranian family background but musically educated in the United States.  I knew even less of her career or brilliant playing despite her winning the First Prize in the International Russian Music Competition in 2007 and First Prize at the American Beethoven Society Competition in 2003. Here is a true rising star of the keyboard with a tremendous grasp of fluctuating emotional moods and the precipitate attack of energised musical phrases as employed by Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev. She has great musical integrity and is absolutely committed to what she is playing in an almost unsettling degree. This commitment communicates the musical intensity of a composition directly to one's heart and soul.

She began (as many have this season) with the charming Haydn Sonata in F major Hob. XVI/23. Excellent control of the classical style in the Moderato, affecting sentiment in the Adagio and seductive appeal and great rhythmic elegance in the Finale. Presto. She then gave a truly wonderful account of the Schumann Variations on the name ABEGG Op.1 The almost childlike simplicity, playfulness, mercurial mood swings in the variations and wonderfully light articulated tone she achieved made it such a delightful piece. The mysteries around the name ‘Abegg’ remain but perhaps Schumann was simply playing one of his popular word games with titles. Literature and particularly characterisations were of immense importance to him throughout his compositional life.

Only now however, in one of the three so-called ‘War Sonatas’, the Prokofiev Sonata No. 7 in B flat-major Op. 83, did we gain an insight to what this pianist was capable of in terms of rhythm, control of dissonance, percussion, anger, attack, articulation and colour. So often the work is performed in a rather meaningless style leading up to a farrago of virtuosity in the final Precipitato movement. It was premiered by Sviatoslav Richter in Moscow in January 1943 and of course his recording and that of Grigory Sokolov are inescapably in one’s inner ear whenever this is performed. She captured the atonal nervousness and unsettling neurotic tempos, nay quasi-savagery of the ironic Allegro inquieto quite brilliantly. The Andante caloroso (at a walking pace but still animated and warm) was full of sentimental opulence but preserved the plaintive and icily barren sense of loss and isolation of the heart and soul in the repeated interval towards the end that swings like the pendulum of fate. This movement was truly heartfelt and deeply moving. The Precipitato final movement was as inexorable as Stalinism (Soviet Russian proverb: The heavy hammer breaks fine glass but forges strong steel ) crushing the bourgeoisie and snuffing out life. On and on it pounds building in percussive intensity until the final resolution in powerful repeated tonal chords. Sara Daneshpour was tremendously convincing in this movement but for me lost a little of the rhythmic sharpness by occasionally over-pedalling the movement – it came across as slightly muddied as a result but magnificent all the same. These are quibbles hardly deserving attention. Her sheer penetration and actual speed of rhythmic attack, like a scorpion, is something I have rarely experienced with pianists.

The two Scarlatti Sonatas were rather too romanticised for my taste with too much pedal. Not much period style there or real sense of guitars, garlic and castanets. But then I am ‘an authenticist’ so not much point in talking to me. I felt Eduard Kunz understood how to play Scarlatti on the modern Yamaha behemoth perfectly. Next the César Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue. This masterpiece of cyclical form was a late work of Franck (1884). Sara brought her complete keyboard technique, sense of polyphony and great mastery of legato line to this monumental work. The culmination of the Fugue where all the themes combine at once was a great moment in her recital and in fact in keyboard music as a whole. The musical fabric is so dense however I think one needs repeated listening to do the Belgian composer justice and truly enter this work.

I found her performance of the Rachmaninoff Etudes-Tableux op. 39 (Nos 1, 2 and 6) absolutely extraordinary, bringing a rhythmic verve I had never heard ever before in performance. She fell upon certain phrases like lightning flashing over the Russian steppe. This was an extraordinarily exciting performance. She closed her recital with the Prokofiev Toccata in D minor Op. 11. Simpy fantsatic in its control of chromatic leaps, crossed hands and complex figuration. A spectacular finish to a brilliant recital. Her intensity at the keyboard is awesome and she received a standing ovation and pleas for many encores. Another rising star in the firmament of young pianists and a very special person indeed.

Liszt at the piano, wearing his Hungarian sword of honour.  
Le Journal pour Rire, 12 May, 1855

Giovanni Bellucci  (20.00)

There is normally a drama at Duszniki of some description which always adds to the excitement and often the entertainment. Last year it was Jean-Marc Luisada and Ewa Kupiec see :


This year it was this Italian gentleman.

His biography opens with the statement that ‘he is one of the most influential pianists of our time’ and ranks him ‘just behind’ Argerich, Arrau, Ciccolini, Cziffra, Kempf and Zimerman (whatever that may actually mean outside of the world of marketing) . He has made CD recordings of the 32 Beethoven Sonatas with Decca. We were full of anticipation.

Bellucci had taken on the gargantuan task of performing all 19 Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies. Like Luisada he appeared with the scores and a page turner but in his case it was a beautiful, young Asian girl. His performance aroused many fundamental questions concerning these works.

Despite an instinctive reaction against the idea, there is a case for performing all of the rhapsodies as a cycle. The notion comes from Liszt himself. I mentioned his fascination with Gypsies earlier in this posting. As he began the task of transcribing the music he found being played in the camps he noted: ‘I gradually acquired the conviction that in reality these detached pieces were parts of one great whole – parts disseminated, scattered, and broken up, but lending themselves to the construction of one harmonious ensemble….a Bohemian epic.’ He began writing an ‘Introduction ‘ to the rhapsodies which by publication became a vast two volume work entitled 'Des Bohémiens et leur musique en Hongrie'. The fate and usefulness of this interesting work is too complicated to go into here but eventually, after the usual literary augmentation by Princess Carolyne von Wittgenstein, his whole enterprise became an embarrassment and he was even accused of anti-Semitism (she had interpolated a chapter comparing Gypsies to the Wandering Jew much to the justified dissatisfaction of the Jews). In many ways the rhapsodies have retained this somewhat low esteem in the minds of even distinguished pianists as ‘just showpieces’.

Signore Bellucci tried to present them as forms of improvisation as one might hear in a Gypsy encampment with all the imperfections that such ad hoc improvisations sometimes have. Playing faster than you really can manage and ubiquitous risk-taking occasionally without success. He arranged them carefully in a particular order which was announced (but of which I could not fathom the logic).

The Duszniki Zdrój festival was absolutely the wrong context to play the piano in this fashion. Audiences here tend to be very discriminating, rather critical (there are many distinguished professors here every year with their brilliant students) who are, like most academics, rather conservative in their interpretative threshold. I think they felt he actually had not learnt the pieces completely or fully mastered them. But what pianist other than perhaps the great Australian Lisztian Lesley Howard has all the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies in his repertoire and in his fingers? At the first interval many in the audience did not return to the hall. Then Professor Bonatta, an acknowledged authority on the composer, stood up and made a public point of dissatisfaction by walking out during the second half. Even less returned to the hall after the second interval and by then all the piano students had left, their empty chairs gaping in accusation.

I felt a wave of sympathy for Bellucci as I felt his ‘incorrect’ certainly somewhat rough approach to the rhapsodies had been much misunderstood. Yes his dynamic was often outrageously loud and wild but I am sure Gypsies do not consider dynamic control or accuracy when they play – most cannot read music and play by ear anyway. Yes he breezed through phrases (but with tremendous digital virtuosity) and whipped them off with nonchalance, missing notes, stretching rhythms, over-pedalling and blurring matters but I often wanted to jump up and dance the rhythms and raw passion were so infectious. However the type of smoky, winy nightclub atmosphere in Budapest where the unsurpassed Gyorgy Cziffra was discovered and where Bellucci should have been performing the set was absent in this pristine Dworek, 'a grove of academe' if ever there was one in Poland. The recital never got off the ground, never got airborne. A po-faced attitude to this type of abandoned, un-academically correct, improvisatory playing meant that his whole approach, although justifiable in some ways, was unfortunately in completely the wrong context. When the beautiful usherette approached him with flowers he brushed them away with a brusque gesture of annoyance – oh dear – a crime to refuse flowers in Poland and an audible gasp rose from the remainder of the audience. Nie! Nie! they cried.

I think Bellucci is to be congratulated for trying to learn and then perform all those fiendishly difficult rhapsodies in one concert. The audience could have risen to the occasion in realizing this. Perhaps he should not have agreed to try such an ambitious idea. It was obvious what his approach and standard of performance was going to be after the first couple of rhapsodies. As the audience did not enter into the spirit of the thing, an atmosphere arose which became as thick as pea soup with desultory clapping every now and again. Agonizingly embarrassing. But with the stamina of the Good Soldier Svejk he did ‘keep on keeping on’. We should have jumped up and applauded on many occasions, not because it was good pianism (sometimes it was genuinely ‘terrific’) but because of what Liszt was actually doing – incredible and sometimes hilarious at once. Great foot-stamping Gypsy stuff, sometimes deeply reflective. Alfred Brendel wrote of them ‘Above all, the Rhapsodies come to life through the improvisatory spirit and fire of the interpreter; they are like wax in his hand like few other pieces in existence.’

There were no encores. This meant that Signore Bellucci could not ‘redeem’ himself. We never did hear what else he could do with say a Beethoven Bagatelle, a Chopin Mazurka, a Scriabin Prelude or a Scarlatti Sonata. I felt sorry for this clearly cultured man who had such an unfortunate experience and misjudged his audience completely. Anyway despite all the ‘faults’, if you will call them that, I enjoyed the whole concert in the spirit in which it was offered and heard many rhapsodies one never hears live at all, ever.

With the right attitude on the part of the audience it could have been such fun! Let's hope he has more success with them when he performs them before the French in Paris at the Louvre in two recitals quite soon.

Saturday August 13th (16.00)

Marcin Koziak and Paweł Wakarecy

I shared the high expectations of Koziak (along with many others) when we heard him perform in the semi-finals of the 2010 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. He seemed to be to be a far superior Chopinist and pianist in many ways to so some others who negotiated the musical hurdles to go through to the finals. I remember his clarity, articulation, virtuosity, beautiful tone colour and touch, moreover a complete understanding of the difficult Chopin idiom known in the nineteenth century as le climat de Chopin.

In this recital he began with Nocturne in F-sharp major Op.15 No. 2 which was sensitively played and most eloquent. The Scherzo in B flat-minor op. 31 was played with great fire and virtuosity but I thought the rather fast tempo he adopted meant that many details and much of the polyphony was brushed aside, not allowing the music to breathe sufficiently in order to build the drama. However if I had this degree of finger magic I would probably be tempted into the same tempi! I felt much the same was true of the Ballade in A-flat major Op. 52 where the musical narrative failed to unfold in a natural way owing to his over-brilliant tempo. He seems to be developing such facility that although I am sure he knows precisely where he is going musically, the average listener, not at all so gifted, cannot follow quite so fast with his ears. Listeners need more time than the performer to process the detail, harmonic progressions and significance within the whole of the counterpoint and melody, time to breathe and take it in. The Polonaise in A-flat major op. 53 was oddly, in view of my former remarks, not a victim of fast tempo. It was certainly one of the noblest, majestic and controlled performances of this often performed piece I have heard for a very long time. I felt it equal to or superior to Blechacz in 2005. One could simply not wish for a finer performance. The Scriabin Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand Op. 9 was also brilliantly brought off, the management of the different voices within one hand superbly accomplished.

I must confess to not liking at all this particular transcription of Liszt, the Fantasy on two themes from W. A. Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ in the version completed by Busoni in 1912. Although performed with tremendous élan and breathtaking command of the keyboard, the musical material strayed far too far from Mozart’s original intentions for my taste. This is the type of Liszt transcription I am not at all fond of but what if I could actually play it like Koziak? Naturally I would be very happy indeed! Koziak is like a racehorse running brilliantly on its nerves. All that is needed to win is a light measure of informed and gentle control.

Paweł Wakarecy is quite a different type of pianist and as we know did reach the finals of the 2010 Chopin Competition in Warsaw and the award of the best Pole in the competition. I am so often being asked who I prefer, Koziak or Wakarecy. This is an impossible question as they both have different strengths and weaknesses. In his recital Wakarecy chose to play the great Schumann cycle Carnaval, Scènes mignonnes sur quatre notes Op. 9. This work is in every serious pianist’s repertoire and Wakarecy gave it the great creative ‘literary’ characterisation it requires. An excellent poetic and passionate performance but for me lacking quite the brilliant articulated tone, rhythmic refinement and whimsical, mercurial shifts of mood so characteristic of Schumann. For me Wakarecy lacks the refined touch and subtlety of many performers but that is my personal taste and certainly a case can be made for a more robust Schumann. The sound Paweł makes in forte passages tends to be somewhat harsh to my ears on occasion but this may well be because of the small concert room in the Dworek and the huge instruments used there. He also played the Zarębski Grand Polonaise in F sharp major op. 6 but I am totally unfamiliar with this piece by an unfairly neglected composer. But I am learning...

Both these still developing pianists had to appear before Daniil Trifonov in the evening which was rather mean of the programmers!

FINAL RECITAL   Daniil Trifonov     (20.00)

What a miraculous year this young man has had in the contemporary world of the piano

As you might imagine I was looking forward to this recital immensely but fearful of what changes might come over Trifonov’s playing when he tackled Liszt. I need not have worried as the first half of his programme devoted to the composer was as brilliant as we have come to expect of him.

Liszt had a lifelong devotion to Schubert which gave rise to arrangements of over fifty of his songs transcribed for piano. He was very faithful to the Schubert score. In 1837 while staying as a house guest at Nohant with George Sand, her friends and her lover of the moment Michel de Bourges, Liszt would play in the warm summer evenings after dinner. ‘With the old house bathed in moonlight, and the pine trees swaying gently in the perfumed air, the music began to drift over the grounds. He played mostly Beethoven and Schubert.’ (Alan Walker Franz Liszt Volume I p. 244). His neurasthenic mistress Marie d’Agoult had recently translated some Schubert song texts into French for the composer. He often continued playing quietly in dream reverie long after the rest of the company had gone to bed and Sand was writing in her room.

Trifonov carefully chose this group indicating much about his own outlook on life. He first chose to play Frühlingsglaube (The Faith of Spring) which describes the awakening of the season (as a metaphor for the recovery of a wounded heart) originally to a text by the poet Johann Ludwig Uhland.

'The mild breezes are awakened, They whisper and move day and night.'

This charming piece was played with all the sensitivity one required. Next a type of sung Barcarolle "Aus dem Wasser zu singen" ('To be Sung on the Water') full of plangent harmonies. Die Forelle was as lively and sparkling as a trout leaping joyfully in a rushing mountain stream and then rang out the famous and ominous repeated octaves of the opening of the setting of Goëthe’s poem the Erlkönig. The frenzied galloping of the horse ridden by the father clutching his dying child, pounding though the dark wood haunted by the King of the Alder Trees was marvellously captured by Trifonov. The accompaniment piano part in Schubert songs is often very difficult in itself but Liszt wove the sung melodic lines through his transcriptions with great and ground-breaking intelligence and skill. He played it in many European capitals and it became a great favourite as well as spreading the name of Schubert which was hardly known outside the Vienna of the day. Trifonov gave a fine performance which was never exaggerated or hysterical, simply haunting and full of dark menace.

He then played a piece I had not heard for years and brought back so many sentimental memories of the pianists in my own family when we used to gather to make music together, my great aunt and great uncle Edward Cahill. The Liszt arrangement of Schumann’s beautiful love poem Dedication (Widmung from Myrthen op. 25 No.1). Trifonov performed it with the same fervent feeling and seductive tone and touch with which he approaches the Romance. Larghetto of the Chopin E minor Concerto. This was followed by a brilliant and superbly articulated La Campanella, the Liszt ‘Transcendental’ arrangement of Paganini. The bells in the little tower rang with a spectacular resonance and joy. There was tremendous audience enthusiasm for this virtuoso piece which gave us some indication of another aspect of Trifonov’s commanding technique which is the bedrock of his playing. With this technique his complex interpretations can be built at will, the technique becoming a servant of his imagination.

A Lithograph from Delacroix's Faust

Finally in the Liszt group the Waltz Mephisto No. 1 in A major (Der Tanz in Der Dorfschenke – The Dance in the Village Inn). Trifonov was terrifyingly intense and seemed full of insidious Mephistophelian seductiveness and evil. His unsurpassed technique was numbing and electrifying, like an electrical discharge on the Hungarian Plain. He really did play this like a man possessed, crouching low over the keyboard, leaning back in Mephistophelian derision, grimacing, cackling wickedly…really it was quite something to watch as well as hear and added to the overall dramatic emotional impact. Liszt was obsessed by Faust and he chose the account of the story by Nikolaus Lenau to set this piece of programme music. This passage from Lenau appears in the actual score:

“There is a wedding feast in progress in the village inn, with music, dancing, and drunken carousing. Mephistopheles and Faust wander by, and Mephistopheles persuades Faust to enter and join in the festivities. Mephistopheles grabs the violin from the hands of a sleepy violinist and draws from the instrument seductive and erotically intoxicating strains. The amorous Faust whirls about with a sensual village beauty [the landlord's daughter] in a wild dance; they waltz in mad abandon out of the room, into the open, away into the woods. The sounds of the violin grow softer and softer, and the nightingale sings his love-soaked song."

Trifonov through Liszt communicated all this passionate theatre to us in the most intense manner imaginable. ‘What incredible music this is!' I thought as we leapt up to an instant standing ovation even though it was interval and usually ‘not done’ in modern concert life.

Daniil Trifonov performing the Liszt Mephisto Waltz No. 1 at Duszniki Zdroj in August 2011
Photographs Marek Grotowski

After interval we began the Chopin. 3 Mazurkas Op. 56 which were simply perfect – I have nothing left to say. The 12 Etudes Op. 25 Trifonov unfurls like a great opera with many scenes. Although thankfully he does not run the end of one etude into the beginning of another, the completeness of his conception tonally and emotionally is tantamount to interpreting the set as an integrated unified work. Absolutely convincing. I will not go into the performance of each study here – although the depth of conception of each one and how it ‘fits in’ to the whole certainly deserves detailed analysis. Suffice to say I was riveted from beginning to end, particularly by his emotional commitment and range of intense response in tone and touch. His complete technique always remained a servant to his view of the music and not a means of superficial display and grand-standing before the audience. He was recalled numerous times and played wonderful encores ranging from a piece from Tchaikovsky's The Seasons to Chopin’s Tarantella. The audience continued to stand and applaud even when when he returned at the base of the platform with no further intention of playing....surrounding him with applause and adulation.

I have never witnessed scenes like this at the Duszniki Festival except with the magnificent Ukrainian pianist Aleksander Gavrylyuk (although I have only been coming for a mere seven years after all....). I fervently hope his teachers protect him from the ruthless grasp of the commercial world. I hope he does not perform too often now the demand to hear him is so huge and suffer burn out or lose the finer edge of his playing which sometimes happens with adulation and repitition. A very young pianist is only human after all and his is a quite extraordinary talent.

As I staggered out into the damp Duszniki night I reflected on the myth of Orpheus. The making of music is the cultivation of magic not simply a series of beautiful sounds more or less skilfully strung together on an instrument. It is a cabbalistic craft. For me Trifonov is an alchemist of the piano.

Brilliant Youth and Admiring Age - Daniil Trifonov signing Pan Moranski's  programme at the Duszniki Zdroj Festival 2011, Poland

You can hear and watch his performance of this piece at the Artur Rubinstein Competition at 

However this performance was not as possessed or as fine as that at Duszniki but that may be the physical absence of the performer on Youtube and his 'electromagnetic emanations' (to refer to Rubinstein's theory).

Thank you Mr. Piotr Paleczny for sourcing all these wonderful pianists in yet another triumphant Duszniki Zdroj Chopin Piano Festival in Poland.

Past Festival Post:

The 65th Duszniki Zdroj Chopin International Piano Festival


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