CHOPIN: WORKS FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA
Jan Lisiecki, piano
NDR Elbphilharmonie O/Krzysztof Urbanski
DG 479 6824
Which garden scent comes to mind when you hear a melting, ‘fragrant’ melody by Chopin? Gardenias? Yes, something that is sweet but slightly herbaceous. Just such a melody opens the Andante spianato and Grande polonaise brilliante where the sound engineers have captured all the warmth of Jan Lisiecki’s playing. Lisiecki is Canadian-born (1995) to Polish parents. Deutsche Grammophon signed him in 2010. In 2013 he was awarded the Gramophone Young Artist of the Year and he made his Australian debut with the QSO in August.
Chopin was so in love with the piano that his orchestral writing can seem a bit spare, so ‘works for piano and orchestra’ can almost be a misnomer. This is the composer who made the piano ‘sing’ (grace notes and trills abound), so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the two masters of bel canto, Bellini and Donizetti, were influences. You can almost imagine Joan Sutherland singing some of these melodies.The Rondo à la krakowiak is Chopin in his muscular Polish mode, folkloric elements abounding. Là ci darem la mano is a ‘cute’ Mozart tune, something which Chopin seems to acknowledge by his jaunty statement of the theme but his variations invest it with more meaning and drama than the original theme to produce music which is totally believable. If the Polonaise and Krakowiak are folkloric, then the Fantasy on Polish airs is downright nationalist, using actual popular Polish tunes of the time. Nocturne in C sharp minor op. posth. is a delightful encore to a most enjoyable recital from a young man whose limpid tone is ideal for Chopin.
- Michael Muir
This CD review was published in the October Magazine.