Alicja Fiderkiewicz

Alicja Fiderkiewicz at St Mary’s Perivale, April 2020

A pianist shares the love and nostalgia for her homeland

Source: christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com

Alicja Fiderkiewicz was born in Warsaw, and showed outstanding musical talent at an early age. She was accepted into the Central School of Music attached to Moscow’s Conservatoire aged 9. During her 6 years in Moscow Alicja played in front of Tatiana Nikolayeva, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. She then studied in Warsaw for 4 years, winning the Polish National Bach and Beethoven Competitions, and she also won Chopin’s Scholarship for 4 years in succession. Having graduated from Warsaw’s Lyceum of Music with Distinction, Alicja entered the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, studying with Polish pianist, Prof. Ryszard Bakst for a period of 6 years. She won a number of college awards and concerto competitions and represented her college in many concert venues across the UK, and graduated with Distinction. She is a winner of the Dudley International Piano Competition and bronze medalist in the Premio Dino Ciani International Piano Competition in La Scala, Milan, and also won a Calouste Gulbenkian Fellowship. She has performed widely throughout the UK including number of recitals in the Wigmore Hall and St. John’s Smith Square. For a number of years, Alicja took some time – out from performing but continued her work as a member of keyboard department at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, UK. Since returning to the stage Alicja has reestablished her career as performing and recording artist. She teaches at the prestigious International Summer School for Pianists at Chetham’s, Manchester and has also been a jury member on number of competitions.She has appeared on BBC Radio and TV as well as on some local radio stations. There are 4 highly acclaimed CD’s on Divine Arts label.

The refreshing thing about this teatime edition from the St Mary’s archive is that we are able to catch up on some of the many concerts that we have inevitably missed.

Dr Mather and his team of Dr Felicity Mather ,Roger Nellist and many other enthusiastic music lovers give a platform to so many musicians that allows them to be heard by a audience not only live but also to a vast audience via their very good streaming.

The archive lists 360 pianist,160 violinists,53 viola,110 cello,40 Piano Trios and many other instrumentalists and singers.An amazing opportunity not only for young musicians to be offered a professional engagement but also to give a platform to distinguished musicians who are no longer on the International concert circuit.An important window in which to share one’s music .

I was very interested to hear Alicja Fiderkiewicz who I have much admired for her comments on social media and her obvious intimate knowledge of music and musical education at a very high level.But I had never heard her play and thought that perhaps her playing career had been shelved as she shared her experience and musicianship with the next generations.

It was good to hear a programme totally dedicated to her homeland.Not only Chopin but also Bacewicz and Paderewski.

Opening with the two nocturnes op 48 by Chopin she immediately demostrated her notable credentials.With a bold rich sound and a beautiful sense of shape and subtle shading.Played with great sentiment especially in the climax of the C minor nocturne but with a technical control and passion that excluded any sentimentality. The opening of the F sharp minor nocturne was full of fantasy as she gradually allowed Chopin to unravel his melodic line with a flexibility of great style and good taste.The ending was quite magical.

This opened the field for another Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz who was born in the same city, Lodz, as Artur Rubinstein only twenty years later.She stayed and taught at the Conservatory there where although a violinist she dedicated herself mainly to composition.She wrote mainly for violin and chamber or orchestral music but she did write some things for piano.As Alicja said in her very interesting introduction she only knew the second sonata and was not sure if there had been any more and did not even know the first( which remains unpublished)She had heard her RNCM Professor Ryszard Bakst play it and had fallen in love with it immediately.

He advised her not to but she subbornly disobeyed and played it to him a few weeks later.As it turned out much to his approval.It is an interesting piece that owes much to it’s time of 1953.Almost a war sonata one could say as Poland coped with the regime in that post war period crying for help and mercy.It was movingly introduced by Alicja and played with great technical assurance and rhythmic energy.An overpowering first movement of great conviction with violent passages alternating with luminous melodic episodes.Ending with a great cry of violence before the movingly beseeching lament of the slow movement.A final toccata based on Polish dance rhythms somewhat reminiscent in style to Villa Lobos with a relentless forward propulsion.

Image may contain: one or more peopleThis contrasted with the charming Nocturne op 16 by Paderewski. A salon piece of great charm obviously used by Paderewski on his concert tours .He had resumed his career in the 1920’s after he had been Poland’s first Prime minister and as foreign minister had signed the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War 1.He returned briefly to politics in 1940 and founded the Polish relief fund for which he gave many benefit concerts but died a year later at the age of 80.His last pupil was Malcuzynski and it is his influence and the school of Niedzielski and Askenase that Alicja was obviously influenced by.

It was obvious from her interpretation of Chopin’s 4th Ballade, one of the pinnacles of the Romantic repertoire .Full of nobility and a sense of architecture with a forward momentum that took us from the opening murmur to the tumultuous declamation before the fireworks of the coda.Even the repeat of the opening murmur had a masculine authority that while deeply heartfelt one knew that these were not tears but an anguish and longing for the homeland.As Cortot says”avec un sentiment de regret”The final long C was held over as the five magical chords and created the link to the tumultuous coda.Throwing caution to the wind she plunged into these final pages with a passionate thrust that brought this illuminating recital to an exciting end.

Almost the end!

She had still a beautiful performance of the Berceuse op 57 to share with her enthusiastic audience.

It was this and the slow movement of the first piano concerto that were the highlights of the recital .A simplicity and purity of the bel canto melodic line that Chopin weaves with such intricate mastery.Her own arrangement of the Romance from the first concerto where she created the same silvery meanderings as in the Berceuse. Only someone with the Polish spirit in their heart could understand the nobility,passion and yearning without rhetoric in the notes that Chopin penned a long way from his homeland.

Christopher Axworthy, April 25th 2020

Carlisle’s music star Alicja Fiderkiewicz, March 2020

Source: Cumberland News and Star 14th March 2020

CARLISLE has its own international jet-setting famous musician with four CDs to her name.

And while Alicja Fiderkiewicz doesn’t fit the normal profile of a rock star, she regularly tours the world performing in concert halls.

Warsaw-born Alicja is a concert pianist who has lived in Carlisle since 1983 from where she regularly heads off to top venues all around the world.

“I started messing about on the piano from the age of three. I was promising at that age but they left me alone to do what I wanted to do. Then I began regular lessons when I was six,” said Alicja.

“From a very early age I used to be found by my parents with my ear glued to the radio, especially Chopin and piano music.”

By the time she was seven Alicja had been entered into a school of music in Warsaw to be taught by a professor, before an even bigger move two years later when the family moved to Moscow.

“We were in Warsaw until I was eight or nine, then I went to Moscow. I studied there for a few years at the Central School of Music. I went with my family because my father was in the diplomatic service as a naval attache,” she said.

“Warsaw was very different to Moscow. I was a child prodigy in Warsaw but a child nobody in Moscow!”

She spent six years there before returning to Poland, winning competitions and scholarships and playing at major venues, including Chopin’s birthplace and the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, before moving to Manchester in 1971 to continue her studies with Polish professor Ryszard Bakst.

“Manchester was a shock to the system. Moscow had regular concerts with the biggest names, and the same in Warsaw. Manchester in those days wasn’t the place it is now,” said Alicja.

“It is wonderful now with places like the Bridgewater Hall, and it is a very important musical centre. But then I was used to going to concert halls every week, and in Manchester there was nothing there. They didn’t have the biggest names coming as Russia was still not letting them out much into the west!”

And it was while living in England that she met David Murray, from Carlisle. They married, and she has been based in Carlisle ever since.

In the last few months Alicja has been to America, Spain twice, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Cyprus, Italy and Poland, where she returned home to give masterclasses.

“You go to some places and it is airport, hotel, concert hall, hotel, airport and back home,” said Alicja.

“But you really see some of the country when you go to Asia. Although they work really hard they are a really hospitable people. They take time to show you the country, they are very friendly.”

She once played at the world famous La Scala opera house in Milan: “I did a Mozart concert with the La Scala orchestra. That was probably the most amazing and beautiful place I have played at. I prefer old halls, they are more traditional, but the newer ones have better dressing rooms and acoustics. The dressing room at La Scala was not very nice, I thought they would be fantastic, but maybe they have improved it!”

Alicja’s favourite composer is Bach, although Chopin isn’t far behind. But she is saddened that not as many youngsters are following in the same path.

“Kids are not as motivated to play and practice. There is TV, computers, the internet... I am extremely happy that I am at the end of my career rather than the beginning. Starting now is very hard. There are so many cuts in music and in the arts, there is very little money available. I feel sorry for them,” said Alicja.

Next Thursday she was planning to give a recital in St Cuthbert’s for the Carlisle Music Society – which this week was postponed due to the Coronavirus – and dedicating the recital to the memory of her friend, Don McDowall, a former chief planning officer for Carlisle City Council, who died on March 20 last year.

“Don was a good friend. I was introduced to him by another friend one evening at a Thursday Quiz Night at the Crown and Thistle in Stanwix. He was the brains behind our team. He loved classical music. I thought I would pay tribute to him by dedicating the recital in his memory,” said Alicja.

And there is a reason for Alicja, despite all her experience, to feel nervous about performing at the recital, when it does go ahead.

“There is a Scottish composer called John McLeod who write Hebridean Dances. I am playing it at the recital. He is in his 80s now, but he is coming down from Edinburgh to the concert. I am terrified!”

The recital was due to feature works by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin and John McLeod.

Wensleydale Concert Series, May 2017

alicja aysgarth2017Pianist Alicja Fiderkiewicz's Recital at St. Andrew's Church, Aysgarth, on May 13, journeyed from Baroque, through Romantic, to Impressionist styles, with equal ease.

J.S.Bach's Italian Concerto lost nothing of its Baroque flavour on the superb modern grand piano. The outer movements sparkled, whilst the Andante sang with grace and clarity.

Then the audience were entranced by Alicja's subtle tone colours in the three Intermezzi, Opus 117, by Brahms.

In the gigantic Prelude, Choral and Fugue, written for piano by organist César Franck, she conveyed both the grandeur and the delicacy of that instrument, on the piano.

The "Estampes " of Debussy provided an intimate antidote to the vastness of the Franck.

Alicja's affinity with Chopin was revealed in her splendid performances of his Nocturnes, Opus 48, and Fantasie in F minor, Opus 49, which she played with much passion.

A dramatic ending to a most enjoyable evening.

Joan Foster (submitted to Darlington and Stockton Times)

Singapore, January 2018

singapore2018

Pianist Alicja Fiderkiewicz was invited to Singapore again to perform at the Esplanade on 30/1/18.

The evening concert started with Bach’s Italian Concerto. Alicja handled the Italian Concerto expressively, especially in the second movement. It was voiced excellently with lucid independent lines...the first and last movements were technically flawless. The Presto was played agilely in a dance-like manner... unlike many pianists who might approach it at a breakneck speed which is uncharacteristic of Bach’s style.

The ten variations by Beethoven were delightful and a joy to savour...Exquisite touch and astonishingly imaginative.

The Prelude, Chorale and Fugue is a monumental work by Franck, which requires maturity and technique... Alicja’s playing radiates strength and deep awareness of the composer’s intentions. She possesses a wonderful command of the overall architecture grandeur of a large scale work.

After interval, Alicja was joined by two young pianists, Sean Teo and Toh Xin Zhan, playing Rachmaninov’s six hands piano works. The Waltz was limpid, colourful and lively...wonderful ensemble playing...The Romance was thoughtful, serious and elegantly controlled throughout...sonorous bass lines, with careful voicing by Sean...the middle section was well balanced and coloured by Xin Zhan...and the top registers always crisp and cantabile in tone quality.

Nowadays, it is rare to listen to the music of Paderewski on concert stage. Alicja gave us a rare treat of two beautiful works by Paderewski. The Nocturne was beautifully presented by Alicja...excellent control with subtle tempo rubato, long cantilena lines...
The Minuet was very popular with all Leschetizsky pupils, thanks to Madame Essipoff’s playing, who was also the first to play the Minuet in public. Alicja played it gracefully and charmingly, wowing the audience... reciprocated with thunderous applause.

The concert ended with a couple of works by the greatest polish composer, Chopin, also a fellow countryman of Paderewski.
The four Mazurkas Op 24 were charming, and wonderfully interpreted...The Berceuse Op 57 is a question of tone colour; therefore it is necessary to approach it through the ear and the imagination. A basso ostinato in the opening contains the tonic and dominant follows by a four bar theme that is subjected to a number of variations. Alicja played it beautifully which is akin to some of Chopin’s Nocturnes. The last item was Ballade in F minor, which is considered to be one of the finest among Chopin’s large scale works. Alicja was imaginative with the flexible main subject, which is calm...not easy to maintain the floating musical shape and intensity for many pianists...she was able to play the strenuous coda at ease...ending with four emphatic chords...

After a wonderful finale, the audience’s clamouring for more was generously reciprocated. Szymanowski’s Prelude and Schumann’s Traumerei were encore pieces, especially the latter, was befitting to send us to our own dreamland.

Soh Simon

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Malaysia, April 2017

Artful and Thoughtful: Alicja Fiderkiewicz

alicja malaysiaAn evening of all Chopin can be formidable and challenging for most pianists. We have heard so many hackneyed works of Chopin by numerous pianists which can often be predictable and stale. However, in the hands of pianist Alicja Fiderkiewicz, we were treated to an evening of refreshing and engaging performance. In short, her renditions were artful and thoughtful.

The recital programme included 2 nocturnes op 48, Berceuse op 57, Ballade no 3 op 47, an arrangement of the piano concerto no 1 Romanza by Alicja and others.

The one-hour recital was not enough to satisfy the listeners' appetite, so they were treated to two encores. The first was the popular etude op 25 no 1, better known as the "Aeolian harp" by Chopin. The evening rounded off with a miniature work of Chopin yet again, the prelude in A major, op 28 no 7, an appropriate finale to send the audience home with sweet dreams.
VENUE: Forte Academy of Music Sdn Bhd JB Malaysia
Time:7:30pm
DATE: 25/4/17

Singapore, April 2017

Programme included Schubert's last monumental piano sonata D960. Rendition of the sonata was thoughtful and soulful. Debussy's Estampes were colourful and unrestrained in its interpretation. The romantic spirit and passion was evident in Brahms' Op 117. Captivating and yearning. Chopin's Barcarolle was imaginative showing mature insight. Highlight of the evening was Chopin's ballade Op 47. It was fully engaging and authoritative. Thunderous applause... asking for more. Pianist Alicja Fiderkiewicz did not disappoint the audience... All were sent home satisfied with three lovely encores starting with Chopin's Étude in A flat Op 25 No 1 and Prelude in A major Op 28 No 7. The last encore was Bach's Prelude in C major BWV 846...Beautiful and enchanting.

Soh Simon

Kemijärvi Cultural Centre, Finland Nov 2015

A romantic piano music moment on a snowy Sunday evening

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!

Teemu Huunonen

Guardian

“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.”

Daily Telegraph

“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.”

Other newspapers

“(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”.

Financial Times

“…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.”

Inverness Courier

“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