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72. festival

72nd
Duszniki
International
Chopin Piano Festival

 

4-12 August 2017

 

Director’s jubilee…

Aleksander Michałowski (1851–1938), a great Polish Chopin specialist and a pupil of, among others, Chopin’s pupil Karol Mikuli (1819–1897) and Chopin’s friend Franz Liszt (1811–1886), celebrated some sort of a jubilee every few years. Even though he did not want it himself, his grateful students, of which there were dozens, friends and music lovers flocking to his concerts kept on finding excuses to honour that magnificent, yet modest, artist. When it happened Michałowski would give a Chopin recital, which was then the subject of discussions for months. And there was plenty to talk about as, according to Jerzy Żurawlew, one of Michałowski’s pupils, no one played Chopin’s masterpieces more beautifully at the time. Led to the piano, due to his short-sightedness, by a student or a person working at the venue, he would sit down by the instrument and conjured up music that evoked such amazing sensations that they remained in one’s memory for decades. It is also worth recalling that the idea of organising the International Chopin Piano Competitions was proposed by Aleksander Michałowski and successfully put into practice by Żurawlew…

Today we have a situation that is reminiscent of Professor Michałowski’s attitude, i.e. the jubilee of Professor Piotr Paleczny, the Artistic Director of the International Chopin Piano Festival in Duszniki-Zdrój. He also wishes to keep a low profile despite the quarter of a century of his directorship. However, as an admirer of his piano art, I refuse to yield to that wish…

Piotr Paleczny’s involvement with Duszniki goes back to 8 August 1971 when, as a recent prize winner at the 8th International Chopin Piano Competition, held several months earlier, he gave here two concerts: the first one – as part of an opening festival concert and the second one – a Chopin recital. At the beginning of the festival he performed Piano Concerto in E minor with the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of its manager, Tadeusz Strugała. I can still remember that magnificent performance, full of energy and, at the same time, lyrical, very different from the interpretative standards of the time, which tended to make the composer look like a self-absorbed, sick nostalgic. Paleczny showed Chopin as a person with a lust for life, prone to showing off his skill, capable of ‘singing’ with the piano and emanating with strength.

Two days later (10 August) the pianist gave a Chopin recital, starting with the popular Polonaise in A major and finishing with the heroic Polonaise in A-flat major, which, in the beautiful and accurate words of Franz Liszt, “reflects the whole history of Poland.” The programme included works of various genres and forms, arranged in a mirror-like manner. A polonaise was followed by a nocturne, then by 3 études and 3 mazurkas and, subsequently, by a scherzo, 3 mazurkas, 3 études, a nocturne and a polonaise. Jerzy Jaroszewicz (a pianist and music critic), who reviewed the recital for the Ruch Muzyczny magazine, wrote:

“Duszniki recitals can be divided into three categories. The first one includes demonstrations of pianistic excellence, of truly magnificent performance perfection (Paleczny, Indjic), the second one – artistic creations and, finally, the third one – performances that do not exhibit any of the above elements, but combine them into a more or less harmonic whole). Both Paleczny and Indjic gave an impeccable show, displaying a fantastic mastery of the instrument, tremendous skill and strength of performance.” Jaroszewicz’s article is accompanied by a photograph of the festival’s participants (Paleczny, Indjic, Zacharias, Sevilla, Sulikowski, Szlachta, Chęcinski and Gavrilov) with Chopin’s monument in Duszniki in the background.

When recalling the beginnings of Piotr Paleczny’s beautiful career, one should mention his pre-competition Warsaw recital, consisting of various works by great composers. Among them was Balakirev’s Islamey: an Oriental Fantasy, considered to be one of the most difficult pieces for the piano, which is confirmed by the fact that only a few virtuosos have it in their repertoire. After his phenomenal performance, Piotr Paleczny received a storm of applause and cheers from the audience. A friend of mine sitting next to me, also a pianist, was so shocked by what he had heard that he stated briefly: ‘I think I’ll quit playing!’ In the same year Piotr Paleczny’s first album was released, which featured the already mentioned Islamey: an Oriental Fantasy by Balakirev, 4 Klavierstücke, Op. 119 by Brahms as well as Fantaisie in F minor, Étude in B minor (‘Octave’) and Étude in A minor by Chopin. A music lover may still take pleasure from listening to that disc if they happen to have this rare piece of recording history in their collection.

When looking at the chronicle of Duszniki festivals, one may notice that the pianist was a rare guest in this Lower Silesian town. When he did, however, arrive here he would treat the audience to a magnificent spectacle. We may recall, in addition to the one mentioned above, his other memorable appearances in Duszniki, such as in 1974 – when he performed Piano Concerto in F minor under the baton of Tadeusz Strugała, 1975 – when he gave a powerful recital consisting of the complete set of Études Op. 25, Ballade in G minor, Scherzo in B minor and Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, 1985 – a recital in which he performed 4 ballads and 4 scherzos or 1994 – when he interpreted both piano concertos with the Leopoldinum Orchestra conducted by Tomasz Bugaj at the festival opening. We all remember the wonderful first evening of the 65th jubilee Festival in 2010, during which Piotr Paleczny also performed both of Chopin’s piano concertos, this time with the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Marek Pijarowski.

During the twenty-five years of his artistic supervision over the Duszniki festival Piotr Paleczny has always had in mind its demanding audience, which expects novelty and world-class piano stars. As a result of his world concert tours and his position as a juror at major international piano competitions, he has had the opportunity to invite talented young people and piano masters to Duszniki. We often had a chance to get to know and listen to future competition prize winners. There were times when a concert in Duszniki was the beginning of an artist’s career as a virtuoso. At some festivals the leading motive was piano performance schools, on other occasions it was winners of top prizes at great competitions or the director’s famous pianist friends. Piotr Paleczny did not forget about great Poles whose activities contributed to the devel opment of global Chopin studies, such as Witold Małcużyński and Jan Ekier, devoting entire concerts to their memory.

Piotr Paleczny, guided by his own sense of beauty, teaching experience and excellent familiarity with the worldwide field of stage performance and his intuition as an artist, has presented and continues to present the festival audience with interesting, talented performers, who are making a contribution to the art of piano performance and gaining recognition. It will be the same this year. The audience will be able to attend concerts that will be interesting both in terms of their content and performing artists. Let us enjoy the experience that we come for to Duszniki …

Stanisław Dybowski

4 August
Friday
20.00 Inauguration recital Nelson Freire
5 August
Saturday
9.30 Master Class Prof. Tamás Ungár
16.00 Recital Viviana Sofronicky – piano
i Sergei Istomin – cello
19.00 Piano recital George Li
22.00 Piano recital Szymon Nehring (out of combined festival ticket)
6 August
Sunday
9.30 Master Class Prof. Tamás Ungár
16.00 Piano recital Claire Huangci
20.00 Piano recital Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń
7 August
Monday
9.30 Master Class Prof. Tamás Ungár
16.00 Piano recital Pavel Kolesnikov
20.00 Piano recital Ingrid Fliter
8 August
Tuesday
9.30 Master Class Prof. Tamás Ungár
16.00 Piano recital Federico Colli
19.00 Charity recital by participants in the Master Class
22.00 NOCTURNE
9 August
Wednesday
9.30 Master Class Prof. Soo Jung Shin
16.00 Piano recital Yeol Eum Son
20.00 Piano recital Alexander Gavrylyuk
10 August
Thursday
9.30 Master Class Prof. Soo Jung Shin
16.00 Piano recital Dinara Klinton
20.00 Recital Alena Baeva-violin i Vadym Kholodenko-piano
11 August
Friday
9.30 Master Class Prof. Soo Jung Shin
16.00 Piano recital Hyuk Lee
20.00 Piano recital Nikita Mndoyants
12 August
Saturday
9.30 Master Class Prof. Soo Jung Shin
16.00 Piano recital Yekwon Sunwoo
20.00 Final recital Vadym Kholodenko

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