Tomasz Ritter at the birthplace of Chopin at Żelazowa Wola - 210th Birthday of Fryderyk Chopin, 1st March 2020 - 'Wszystkiego najlepszego Frycek!' (Happy Birthday Frycek!)
Fryderyk Chopin [1 March 1810 Żelzowa Wola, Poland - 17 October 1849, Paris]
For a fascinating detailed examination in English of the originally disputed date of his birth
|The Dworek where Chopin was born at Żelzowa Wola|
Throughout this recital he played an Erard from 1838 from the NIFC collection.. He ambitiously opened with the Ballade No.4 in F minor. His opening of the narrative was convincing and confident with much transparent polyphony and colour of sound. He showed affecting, passionate lyricim and the overtones of the period instrument gave a warm watercolour diffuseness to the soundscape in pianissimo performance. His rubato was emotional yet I still felt a certain diminishment of poetry and sensibility. There were inspiring elements of chiaroscuro sound, colour and a fine balance of the 'registers' of period pianos was preserved.
The Etude in E minor Op.25/5 had an affecting and loving cantabile with a fine singing left hand. A sensitive balance was achieved here. The Etude in E-major Op.10/3 was a spectacularly driven interpretation of superb virtuosity and then the eloquent 'song' rose over us.
The Waltz in A-minor Op. 34/2 suffered from the inability of so many young pianists, who live in such an utterly different technological world, to imagine the source of this music, replete as it is with the yearning nostalgia of recalled memories of the dance. The Etude in C minor Op.10/12 had a most tempestuous and turbulent declamatory opening. Fine articulation here with minimal pedal. I found the execution absolutely brilliant.
This was followed by the Nocturne in C minor Op.48/1 which had a moving rather slow opening tempo which was most effective in creating a mood of the night. Poetry lay here too but the rhapsodic transports of recalled love and passion were not sufficiently incandescent for this soul. there was utterly convincing impetuousness to the coda.
The Etude in C minor Op.25/12 was one of the truly great performances of this work to my mind. Spectacular, viscerally exciting in its urgent virtuosic sound palette and wild, stormy Salvator Rosa soundscape. Magnificent waves of oceanic emotionalism breaking irresistibly upon the shore. The Etude in C-sharp minor Op.25/7 is a desperately moving work that touches the heart, mind and soul in a profound manner. I felt he could have brought more expressiveness and philosophical despair to the work and a more passionate yearning. In the Etude Op.10/4 which completed this trilogy, thoughtfully embedded in the minor key, we were again launched into an almost frightening display of virtuosity from the very explosive opening. To produce such sound from an Erard period instrument was magical and unsettling at once, like contemplating an apple on the moon. The Nocturne in D-flat major Op.27/2 was ardent and full of expressive self-confidence, a rare emotion in Chopin surely. The conclusion was notably sensitive but overall I was hoping for more subtlety of expression in his performance. I do wish young pianists would breathe the phrases more and give us listeners time to follow the polyphonic intricacies of the composition. The brain of the pianist encodes but the brain of the listener must decode -two utterly different electrochemical, synaptical pathways (to adopt the cloak of Huxley for a moment).
The Scherzo No.1 in B minor Op.20 had completely appropriate wild, ungoverned opening. I felt at times he was carried away by his own virtuosity at times however this may have been the small room in which this powerful Erard was placed. Again if only he took a little more time and breathed the phrase....music is a language like any other and must make sense as an utterance without feeling such breathlessness. The eloquent Christmas carol Lulajże Jezuniu [Hush little Jesus] at the center of this work, the calm simplicity of Christmas Eve, could have had more heartfelt expression and nostalgia for childhood happiness, uncluttered by the ravenous tigers of experience. The return of the chaos of reality was far too dramatic for me.
The Tomaszewski description of this Scherzo from the NIFC website cannot possibly be bettered in my opinion, so I humbly quote it rather than venturing forth myself.
[My review of the magnificent evening Philharmonia chamber concert (Kholodenko and Baeva) will follow soon but I am flying to London tomorrow morning so must calm my coronovirus panic attacks and pack some masks...... only joking!]