Kemijärvi Music Union and Kemijärvi Culture Office have once again, to their credit, brought a magnificent pianist to perform this far north.
Before coming to Lapland, Alicja Fiderkiewicz had played a concert in Helsinki and also held a master course in Sibelius Akatemia.
The concert started with the massive Schubert Sonata no.21, D.960, which has four movements in distinctly different styles. In the first movement, Fiderkiewicz succeeded in bringing forward the different themes. I especially loved the Andante sostenuto part, where the pianist’s tone was in a class of its own; how many fine nuances can one find in a grand piano.
In the only slightly slower movement of the sonata, the musical outline and the peacefulness of the musical phrases made for fine listening.
The first part of the concert consisted of this particularly challenging sonata and it was a very good start to the whole event.
After the interval we first heard Papillons op.2 by Schumann, a piece which combines a distinctive set of different thematic elements in the composer’s characteristic style, all brought forth by the pianist in quite an impressive manner.
Following this, our ears had a chance to rest for a bit with three of Chopin’s Nocturnes, known to everyone. Fiderkiewicz performed an introspective, stylish and suitably powerful version, while avoiding oversentimentality. Once again I would like to point out how did the pianist conjure such a multitude of fine nuances in the Chopin material. The concert ended with Barcarolle in F sharp major, op.60, by the same composer, which, in its rhythm and forte dynamics, made a nice contrast against the previous Nocturnes.
For the first encore we heard J.S. Bach’s Prelude in C major, which the pianist dedicated, in front of the audience, to the memory of the victims of the Paris attacks. A brief silence followed the piece, the audience paying their respects to the victims of violence. For the second encore, trying to lighten up the atmosphere, Fiderkiewicz played a little mazurka by Sibelius, sitting by the edge of the piano and wondering ’’do I remember this one?’’ to a laughing audience.
The big sound of the grand piano did come through just about fairly in the hall of the Cultural Centre, noted for its complete lack of echo. It would be nice to see a day when such great artists would be able to perform in Kemijärvi with the appropriate acoustics - changing the side curtains to a harder material would make the hall much more suitable for music performances, otherwise the hall is a fine and intimate venue. One would only wish that concerts of such quality would have a bigger audience.
It was the joy of a Sunday night to get to listen to such a great piano artist!
“Her flair for communication showed throughout Mozart’s Concerto K467, in the tonal beauty of the slow movement, and even more in her imaginative shaping of passage work in the outer ones.”
“It was a mature, finely controlled interpretation she gave, with no panic and no exaggerations… beautifully phrased, well coloured and expressive within its early classical limits.”
“Her playing is distinguished by her innate sense of style and immaculate articulation. These qualities combine with true musicianship to give performances of uncommon interest, Her interpretation of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata was masterly; the strength which underlies her playing is always finely controlled and her phrasing delineates the development of the music. The slow movement especially, was most beautifully played with a sober elegance and a wealth of controlled feeling.”
“(Alicja Fiderkiewicz) …demonstrated the truth of the great Rubinstein’s saying – that ‘only Poles can play Chopin properly’. In the three pieces: Fantasie in F minor, Nocturne in E flat major and the Scherzo in E major, her playing was brilliant, with changes of tone and tempo that vividly interpreted and illuminated this endlessly fascinating and intriguing music”.
““…masterly and beautiful music making”.”.
“…Ravel’s ‘Le Tombeau de Couperin’ was a tour de force of subtle colouring and flexible – yet disciplined – rhythm.”
“The exceptionally talented and interesting pianist, Alicja Fiderkiewicz, gave a performance of Grieg’s Concerto in which she showed a masculine strength of attack and a feminine delicacy in the lyrical passages. There was no condescension in her approach and this fine piece emerged fresh and stimulating.”
“In her approach to Mozart: nothing “prettified,” nothing out of scale, but with the awareness that this is “big” music nevertheless. This is what removes her from the category of talented, which is well filled, to that of a nascent artist, altogether rarer. In the now popular Andante (“Elvira Madigan” and all that), she showed that artistry in remarkably mature fashion by her refusal to sentimentalise the melodic line.”
“(Hindemith's) Sonata No.3 (had) none of the pedagogic dryness often suitable for this composer but strong, round-tone sympathy – without effusiveness – roomy, but not costive, speeds, generous, yet judicious, pedalling, and power without clatter for the big Fugal Finale”.
“…quite delightful and was well worthy of the several curtain calls she received at the end of her performance. Listening to her, one could well appreciate why she is already gaining an international reputation.
Her programme reflected her international background, not the least Poland. The first half consisted entirely of Schubert’s ‘Sonata in B flat major, D.960’. The second part consisted of four shorter pieces, The ‘Sonata, Opus 1’ by Berg and, to conclude, three of Chopin’s works: two Nocturnes and the ‘Fantasie in F minor, Opus 49’. The whole recital was performed by a pianist engrossed in her music.”
“Pianist Alicja Fiderkiewicz gave a superb recital-demonstrating all this brilliant musician’s wide range of musical sympathy and expressive power.”
Manchester Evening News
“…the quality of imagination is given to a rare few (pianists). It was evident throughout the whole of Miss Fiderkiewicz’s recital… (to each work played) she brought her own individuality and intensity of expression.”
Liverpool Daily Post