Chopin - Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
Howard Shelley’s name is on the cover, but not as the pianist. Conducting the Sinfonia Varsovia in both Chopin concertos, he cedes the keyboard to Jan Lisiecki – a name that, if you haven’t heard yet, you will.
Born in Calgary in 1995, this remarkably young soloist is perhaps the most ‘complete’ pianist of his age I have encountered, and what makes these live performances from the two most recent ‘Chopin and his Europe’ festivals in Warsaw even more remarkable is that he was just 13 and 14 when he recorded them.
With stylish orchestral playing, these are rewarding performances that, without breaking new interpretative ground, reveal Lisiecki’s astonishingly mature musicality. The contrasting characters of the E minor and F minor Concertos are sensitively distilled, and the pianist plays with sparkling technique as well as idiomatic pathos.
His website, while giving details of an already impressive international career, places him firmly as Canadian, but his full name, Jan Milosz Lisiecki, suggests he has this music in his genes. The light and airy rhythms of the First Concerto’s finale amply confirm this.
Even in a crowded corner of the CD catalogue, this refreshingly unhyped debut release is one to celebrate. John Allison