Krystian Zimerman, gained’t you please come residence?

The Polish pianist has not set foot in america since, on 26 April 2009 at Walt Disney Corridor, Los Angeles, he swore by no means to return till America eliminated its missile protection defend from his nation.

The US pianist Zsolt Bognár misses him badly. Zsolt has been listening to an astounding 1994 live performance efficiency of Szymanowski’s Variations on a Polish Theme. He shares his regrets with Slipped Disc:

The night time earlier than I performed my Suntory Corridor debut in 2009, I heard Krystian Zimerman play a recital within the adjoining corridor of the identical elegant venue. This system included Bach’s c minor Partita, Beethoven’s final sonata, Opus 111, the Brahms Opus 119 set, and a barnstorming efficiency of Karol Szymanowski’s transcendentally troublesome Variations on a Polish Theme—the identical work earlier than which, some days earlier in Los Angeles, the pianist hesitated then addressed a message about American missile installations in Poland to a shocked viewers. The following efficiency was tense for viewers and performer alike: Mr. Zimerman had introduced it might even be his ultimate look in america.

Assembly him backstage in Tokyo, I discovered Mr. Zimerman, as I had on many events earlier than—from Chicago, to Boston and Cleveland—to be considerate and measured in dialog, regal in poise, gown, and method as he listened. I requested if Los Angeles would certainly be his final look in america. He replied rapidly on the contrary that though he would doubtless keep away from main live performance circuits, he deliberate to go to conservatories and universities, and hoped to start out a dialogue with college students about why he had taken such a stand. To the substantial lack of devoted concertgoers throughout the nation, a prolific musician in his prime would certainly stay fully vanished from its musical phases ever since.

Krystian Zimerman, a pianist who idolized the equally elusive Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, surpassed in some capacities the usually superhuman craftsmanship with an artistry all his personal, combining pianistic sheen with the heat of Artur Rubinstein and the dramatic narrative of his different idol, Maria Callas. However to evaluate Zimerman’s artwork shouldn’t be so simple as listening to his catalogue of highly-crafted industrial recordings, which vary from nearly literal and didactic in his early studying of Schumann’s Concerto with Karajan, to pristine and glowing stability in his cycle of Beethoven Concerti in Vienna with Bernstein, and an intimate and improvisatory freedom in his latest album of the final two Schubert Sonatas.

To listen to Zimerman in live performance, nevertheless, was immersion in dramatic fervor—a completely completely different artist with infinitely extra colours and sonorities, rhetoric on an operatic scale, and a way of second that even appeared to select up on the power and response of the venue and viewers. His 2002 Brahms recital in Carnegie Corridor particularly outdid itself due to the viewers current; the ultimate chords have been the end result of an epic journey fueled with exhilaration of an Olympian runner empowered within the ultimate stretch. In live performance, his sound shimmered with an excellent higher register and gem-like readability. Bass sonorities have been large, even scary—benefitting from the unbelievable Steinways he used from his personal assortment of almost a dozen, which he additionally serviced and voiced himself. Zimerman’s artistry on stage breathed, sighed, and thundered with ever-changing energy.

A uncommon live performance recording

Krystian Zimerman’s 1994 Ludwigsburg live performance recording of Szymanowski’s Variations on a Polish Theme—a piece he by no means launched commercially—not solely captures the breathtakingly expanded vary of the musician in efficiency, however is without doubt one of the highest pinnacles within the recorded historical past of the instrument. As a lifelong collector of uncommon live performance recordings, I owned a personal copy of this efficiency since my days as a scholar; I additionally just lately found it from a 2012 add with comparatively few views given its stature. In it, one witnesses white-hot pianism, nostalgic laments, cathartic declamations, the visionary half-light of early Scriabin, and within the funeral march (from 10:08) there’s a crescendo to probably the most large and cursed bell-like sonorities possible.

The left-hand barrage of octaves at three:50 is jaw-dropping additionally for its readability and momentum. Szymanowski’s wistful rhetoric is current even in probably the most athletic passages, and within the fingers of Zimerman is a revelation of thought and coronary heart. The resignation at 7:30 is paying homage to Vladimir Sofronitsky, and the ecstatic surges of sound from 13:29 are of vitality in contrast to any of Zimerman’s industrial recordings. Szymanowski’s piano-writing at 16:10 rivals Liszt’s in Feux Follets, right here deployed with beguiling lightness. The fugue from 16:33 is electrifying in its heroic outbursts. The drive to the tip from 18:25 is to be heard to be believed.

Krystian Zimerman’s appearances in america have been already witness to uncommon happenings earlier than Los Angeles, with points starting from touring together with his personal pianos in a local weather of heightened border safety, to incidents in New York involving the alleged recording of performances by viewers members, bringing occasions to a halt on the request of the performer. On different notable events, humanistic and political stands have been verbally addressed to the viewers concerning particular points.


The query of the overlap of politics and music shouldn’t be new, however right here it considerations self-exclusion and the absence of a serious artist. Sviatoslav Richter mentioned the 2 points have been inseparable, citing Don Carlo and Tosca as examples. In Hungarian interviews, Richter even declared his inventive obligation as musician to be no completely different than his patriotic obligation—a contradiction certainly from a performer who elsewhere proclaimed indifference to politics and worldly issues. Krystian Zimerman’s illustrious compatriot Ignacy Jan Paderewski confronted the query as effectively: he was a pianist-composer whose consummate fame included his changing into Prime Minister of Poland in 1919, signing the Treaty of Versailles to finish World Struggle I.

Except for our lament on the absence of his gripping performances and artistry, the necessity for artwork and humanistic imaginative and prescient in at present’s world has by no means been larger—and the strife publicly decried from the stage in Los Angeles is arguably far larger now. The urgency of Krystian Zimerman’s distinctive artwork and message is only by way of its presence moderately than its absence. It’s time for a return.

(c) Zsolt Bognar

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