Andrzej Wiercinski at St Marys A masterly recital of refined sensibility and artistry

Thursday 1 December 3.00 pm

A superb recital from a great artist.
From the first note to the last his supreme natural artistry kept us on the edge of our seats as he guided us through a world of colour,style,passion and intelligence with a technical and musicianly assurance.It made this quite simply one of the finest recitals that I have ever heard from the many masterly recitals in the mecca of pianists that is St Mary’s.In fact a Master of Masters and it just confirmed my opinion from the last times I heard him .

Scarlatti’s F minor sonata where the delicacy and luminosity of his sound created a musical line that was mesmerising.It transformed a bauble into a masterly gem of great weight and unusual importance.Repeating each episode with very subtle ornamentation that just added intensity to the poignancy of this seemingly simple sonata.

Mozart’s much loved but too often badly played F major Sonata was reborn in Andrzej’s sensitive hands.From the first note it was played with a rhythmic energy and an operatic sense of character with a charm and grace allowing the music to unfold so naturally.A clarity and precision but above all a luminosity and radiance that allowed the music to speak with a directness and simplicity that made Schnabel’s famous dictum so apparently true.
A child like simplicity that can be so difficult to attain as we are contaminated by life.There was beauty to the Adagio where his natural flowing movements and caressing of the keys made for refined music making where every note and every phrase was to be cherished.
Pure opera was the last movement as it burst onto the scene with irresistible fervour where one could envisage the different characters taking the stage one after the other.Of course the genius of Mozart had a secret or two up his sleeve and the surprise quiet ending was thrown off with breathtaking nonchalance.A sense of style that allowed clarity and precision but also colour and shape that brought Mozart vividly to life with an invigorating freshness and ‘joie de vivre’.

Kreisleriana burst onto the scene with driving energy and passionate involvement.
Precision too with some trecherous leaps that were negotiated as a musician not a technician!The central episode was beautifully mellifluous but still part of an architectural whole that made the return of the first episode so inevitable.
The subtle colouring and legato of the second movement was a technical feat that is rarely encountered in what is one of the most difficult movements to play convincingly and above all to allow the music to speak with the same inflection as the human voice.An octave that is made of two separate voices as today is rarely heard which can make this movement seem overlong and rather ponderous in lesser hands.
There was great rhythmic energy in the first episode and a passionate sweep to the second.
The fleeting beauty of the central episode of the third movement was ravishingly beautiful and contrasted so well with the rhythmic impulse of the opening.The passionate outpouring of the coda was breathtaking in its wild abandon.
The fourth ,a prayer of hope,was played with aristocratic weight,a feeling that every note had an infinite number of gradations as the beauty of his hand movements were testimony enough of the kaleidocopic range of sound that was in his fingertips.
The quixotic fifth was played with lightness and drive before the gentle musings of the sixth.There was a quite magical transition and ravishing beauty to the final bars with tenor colourings like jewels sparkling deep in the soul.
The seventh usually an excuse for virtuosity and speed was here played with clarity but without any heaviness.Of course the central episode was played with fearless technical prowess which passed unobserved as his musicianship was concerned with architectural shape and style rather than showmanship.The staccato chords came as a surprise until he gradually added colour and weight that made the contrast so movingly poignant.
There was a lightness in the eighth where the staccato right hand made the long legato of the left so disturbingly right.There was a startling contrast with the long legato sweep of the first episode and the passionate outpouring of the second as the lightness returned with ever more present legato long held notes before the end with the light notes just dancing their way into the depths of the keyboard.
An extraordinary performance of a work that is so difficult to hold together as one and give at the same time an architectural shape to so many differing multicoloured episodes.
In so many of Schumann’s works his split personality of Floristan and Eusebius are only the components of a whole.

The opening of Chopin’s Andante Spianato was like a great painter with a brush about to delicately add colour to his canvas.There was ravishing beauty with the same sense of balance that I have only ever heard from Brailowsky or Stefan Askenase.A fluidity and clarity with ornaments played with jewel like precision and sparkling beauty.There was a delicacy and beauty to the mazurka episode that entered as a whisper rather than the more usual brass band!
But of course here is an artist of great sensitivity and astonishingly refined technical preparation.The Polonaise just sprang from his fingers after the short orchestral introduction.There was brilliance and a freshness as the music unwound with jeux perlé ease and shape.His wonderful well oiled fingers gave an ease and fluidity to all that he did and he knew too when to be a showman in a work that Chopin would have astonished and seduced the noble ladies with in the fashionable Paris salons.
I have heard some wonderful Chopin from artist such as Ashkenazy,Barenboim or Fou Ts’ong so I do not think because Andrzej is Polish he automatically understands the composer better than others.
Fou Ts’ong likened the sentiment in Chopin’s music to the same sentiment in Chinese poetry.You see the soul is universal and knows no barriers!
Chopin spent most of his life in Paris where his refined sensibility and artistry could find it’s ideal milieu to grow and mature.Of course there was deep inside him the nostalgia for his childhood and Polish roots.
But Chopin’s is such refined music it takes a great artist to have all the complex facets to make the music live with aristocratic sentiment and musical intelligence.Andrezj has these components and happens to be Polish che ‘non guasta’ – which does no harm!Rubinstein was the prime example before him of course. And who like Chopin spent his formative years in Paris a long way from his homeland.

Andrzej Wierciński is a semi finalist of the XVIII International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2021. Over the last decade Andrzej has earned an impressive string of awards at prestigious Polish and international piano competitions – most notably winning 1st Prizes at: the International F. Chopin Competition “Golden Ring” in Slovenia (2014), the International F. Chopin Competition in Budapest (2014), the International Neapolitan Masters Competition in Naples (2018), the First ViennaInternational Music Competition (2019), the International Piano Competition in Saint-Priest in France (2019) and the 46th Polish F. Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Those prizes have included many concert engagements abroad, golden medals and cooperation with recording labels in Europe and the Far East, as well as gaining for Andrzej an expanded following of listeners to his music. For example, during the visit to Japan in 2015 of the President of Poland (H. E. Bronisław Komorowski), Andrzej played a Chopin recital in Tokyo in the presence of Princess Masako Owada. In 2015 the KAWAI company invited him to play in Asia whilst in 2019 Andrzej performed a special recital for the Cobbe Collection Trust of historic instruments at Hatchlands Park in the UK, then playing on the 1845 Erard used by Thalberg. He has played concerts in most European countries – including several in the UK – as well as in Canada, Japan and Indonesia. He has performed at significant venues throughout Holland – Het Concertgebouw, and in Slovak Philharmonic and in Warsaw at the Łazienki Królewskie (Chopin’s statue). Andrzej has also collaborated with the best orchestras in the country, such as the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.

In developing his music career Andrzej has taken part in international master courses conducted by eminent pedagogues such as Michel Beroff, Dmitri Alexeev, Akiko Ebi, Andrzej Jasiński, Lee Kum-Sing, Anna Malikova, Dang Thai Son. He has also benefited from invaluable advice and encouragement from Daniil Trifonov. Andrzej Wierciński holds Artistic Scholarships from the Sinfonia Varsovia Foundation, the Krystian Zimerman Scholarship and the YAMAHA Foundation. In 2016 he released his first CD (of works by Chopin, Schumann and Scarlatti).

An interesting discussion with Dr Hugh Mather follows the recording of the concert

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