Wednesday, October 20, 2010

piccolo chopin

Eight and a half minutes.  As a music-lover, there are the moments you live for. For me tonight it was eight and a half minutes into the second movement of Chopin's Concerto No. 1 in E Minor.

When it comes to playing Chopin what sets apart the proverbial men from the boys is not the ability to play lots and lots of notes - although heaven knows that is impressive.  It's what happens when seemingly nothing is happening.  In those barely audible moments of simplicity,  immaturity as an artist has nowhere to hide.  
Tonight at Symphony New Brunswick's performance of Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1, Jan Lisiecki proved he knows not just how to hit the notes but to live inside them.

Don't get me wrong.  The Concerto up to that point had been nothing short of breath-taking. The opening movement allowed Lisiecki to show off his considerable technical prowess and the second  movement, the Romance - Larghetto, is aching, haunting Chopin at his most beautiful. But at eight and a half minutes in, the orchestra is silent and Lisiecki played a few measures of barely audible notes.  Except his playing seemed to come less from his fingers hitting the keys and more from him breathing out the notes and willing them into being. 

He was sublime.
And he is only 15.

When the Concerto had ended, after a few moments of serene stillness, he rose to thunderous applause and a standing ovation (hard-earned in this town). Suddenly he looked every lanky inch of a the bashful teenager, brushing his blonde hair off his forehead and smiling and waving sheepishly as he walked off stage.  He returned, cracked a small joke and a smile and announced, "for an encore I thought I'd play Nocturne in C Minor."

And there it was again: the stillness.  the simplicity.  the crowning reward of art.

If you are in Saint John, you can see Jan and Symphony NB on Oct 20 at the Imperial TheatreHere he is two years ago with  Chopin's Andante Spianato.

No comments: