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Maciej Grzybowski, fot. Jakub Cuman

Piano recital | Opening of NInA

On May 30th, Maciej Grzybowski, a charismatic pianist, will perform a piano recital for the opening of NInA's new building.
SAT   30 / 05 / 2015
19:30  –  21:30
National Film Archive–Audiovisual Institute Wałbrzyska 3/5
02-739 Warsaw

Show me what you play and I will tell you who you are - This dictum particularly applies to erudite pianists such as Maciej Grzybowski who arrange their programs not just with technique and emotions in mind, but with something more; they want to tell us a story or pose an essential question.

The question, in the case of the program presented by Grzybowski, seems to involve the crisis of grand narratives. Instead of elaborate, multi-part opuses, the pianist presents a series of aphoristic inventions and waltzes as well as an original arrangement of mazurkas preceded by a scherzo. These are pieces composed over the span of a one and a half centuries, from the elegant classicism of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, through the bombastic romanticism of Fryderyk Chopin, to the expressionism of Andrzej Czajkowski.

The theme of fragmented emotional stories appears in the opening piece of the recital, Johannes Brahms’ Intermezzo, op. 117 (1892), which the composer himself called “three cradle songs of my sorrows.” All of them at a walking pace, andante, with returning choral octaves. The notes of the first include a verse from Herder’s collection of songs:

Sleep softly, my child, sleep softly and well; it grieves me sore to see you weep

One could not possibly fall asleep while listening to the ten restless Inventions for Piano, op. 2 (1958—59) by André Tchaikowsky, whom Maciej Grzybowski has been promoting in Poland for many years. Running the gamut from Bach-like polyphony to Schönenbergian expression, this series of musical aphorisms is at once a collection of portraits of his fellow composers, masters and friends, as explained in the dedications. The final, longest and most tempestuous invention is addressed to Tchaikowsky’s long-time partner, the clarinetist and doctor Michael Riddall.

Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat major K. 282 (1783), on the other hand, was the nineteen-year-old Mozart’s show-off piece; it emphasized the dynamic range of the piano, an instrument that was only beginning to make its debut in the salons. This energetic piece, particularly the minuets in its middle, are a perfect match for the quote with which Ravel opens the next part of the program, the suite Valses nobles et sentimentales (1911): “The delicious and ever novel pleasure of a useless occupation”.

Ravel’s waltzes charm the listener with their harmonious finesse and internal contrasts rather than their dancy character, and depart as much from the original salon renditions as the subsequent performance of Chopin’s mazurkas. The Polish composer’s Scherzo in B minor, Op. 20 (1831/35) swells into the second culminating moment of the evening (after Tchaikowsky’s tenth Invention), its tumultuous course and anything but jocular mood (scherzando) clearing the way for the finale of the recital.

The performance comes to an end with mazurkas that Grzybowski seems to have selected in defiance of the composer’s own intentions. In these four faces of stylized dance – as varied as the inventions and waltzes of the earlier series – the dominant mood is reflective and lyrical, while the final mazurka, with its accented rhythm, closes Grzybowski’s tale with a strong denouement.

Autor: Jan Topolski

Recital program

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Drei Intermezzi op. 117

Andrzej Czajkowski (1935-1982)

Inwencje na fortepian op. 2

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

IV Sonata Es-dur KV 282

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Valses nobles et sentimentales

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)


a-moll op. 7 nr 2

e-moll op. 41 nr 1

gis-moll op. 33 nr 1

F-dur op. posth. 68 nr 3

See also