Chopin: Piano Concerto Nos 1 & 2
LABELS: Accentus Music
WORKS: Piano Concerto Nos 1 & 2; Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4; Etude in C minor, Op. 10, No. 12; Waltz in E minor, Op. Posth
PERFORMER: Evgeny Kissin, Nikolai Demidenko (piano); Warsaw PO/Antoni Wit (Warsaw, 2010)
CATALOGUE NO: Accentus Music ACC20104
The climax of Chopin’s 200th birthday celebrations held in Warsaw late last February, this concert featured two Russian pianists offering contrasting views of the composer from the perspective of his two (also contrasting) concertos.
Having been present at this event, I am happy to find all its excitement and musical depth preserved – and even amplified – on DVD. Nikolai Demidenko’s account of the Concerto in E minor is searching and expansive, livening up with dancing lightness in the krakowiak-infused finale.
Anyone who (like me) has found themselves resistant to Evgeny Kissin’s toy-soldier showmanship, particularly in his earlier career, needs to hear his brilliant account of the Concerto in F minor. Playing with great depth, his music-making has an innocent freshness that, coupled with sparkling poise and attack, is ideally suited to this work. In pianism of bel canto beauty, Kissin uncovers all the yearning of the slow movement, and delivers a crisp finale notable for its elastic buoyancy and perfectly judged rubatos.
The first of his encores, the Revolutionary Etude, generates an excitement that fits the occasion. Chopin’s Concertos are bread-and-butter works for Antoni Wit and his Warsaw Philharmonic, but these collaborations inspire them to richly cultivated performances that capture the music’s hard-to-define melancholy spirit. The filming at Warsaw’s venerable Philharmonic Hall, that high temple of Chopinism, is very atmospheric. John Allison