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Canberra Today 4°/5° | Friday, August 19, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

‘Poet of the piano’ thrills the audience

Polish pianist Lucas Krupinski… left the audience breathless with delight, receiving thunderous applause. Photo: Peter Hislop.

CIMF, Concert 12: “La Polonaise”. At the Fitters’ Workshop, May 4. Reviewed by TONY MAGEE.

SUBTITLED a “Polish Gala Concert”, Polish ambassador Michał Kołodziejski, in welcoming guests to this 12th concert in the Canberra International Music Festival, mentioned it was a special time for Poland and Australia. 

This year celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In addition, Poland is commemorating the 231st anniversary of the formation of its constitution – the first in the world – conceived and written down on May 3, 1791.

In addition, he welcomed the Ukrainian ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko, ratifying that Poland and Ukraine stand united in solidarity.

Polish pianist Lucas Krupinski is a graduate of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw with further studies in Hannover and London. Taking out first prize at the 7th San Marino International Piano Competition, he has also won international competitions in Hannover, Aachen and Goerlitz. His concert schedule sees him regularly performing throughout Europe and the UK.

Krupinski’s solo piano set comprised seven of Chopin’s finest and most beloved works.

Opening with the “Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat major, Op. 61” his performance was commanding and definitive. Displaying many hallmarks of his eastern European training, those being a cantabile tone production, high lifting of the fingers, a liquid, weight technique, the bringing out of inner voices and a slight breaking of hands, the young pianist was captivating in his performance.

Many of these qualities are more aligned with 19th century practice and are missing from many of today’s pianists. It is gratifying to hear a modern, young artist paying such attention to these essential, but now somewhat forgotten, foundations of quality piano artistry.

The short “Waltz in C sharp minor, Op. 64, No. 2” is simple in construction and relatively easy to play, which means it is easy to perform. Right? Perhaps not. 

My criticism is that he glossed over the fast-running passages slightly. Detail was missing where every note should count, somewhat exacerbated by overuse of the sustain pedal.

Concluding with Chopin’s “Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53”, the performance was electric and thrilling. It was real “on-the-edge-of-the-seat” stuff and brought the house down.

Krupinski established himself as a poet of the piano, leaving the audience breathless with delight, receiving thunderous applause and a partial standing ovation.

Brisbane-based Orava String Quartet joins pianist Lucas Krupinski. Photo: Peter Hislop.

Brisbane-based Orava String Quartet is in its eighth year of performing together and has toured the US and Canada as well as Asia, the UAE and NZ. In 2018 it was selected by German recording giant Deutsche Grammophon for its historic first Australian recording release. 

Taking to the stage and joined by Krupinski at the piano, Polish brothers Daniel Kowalik on 1st violin, Karol Kowalik on cello, with David Dalseno on 2nd violin and Thomas Chawner on viola, performed the “Piano Quintet No.1” by Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969).

Orava played with incredible passion, fire and intensity, combined with assurity and conviction. The first movement, marked “Moderato molto espressivo” began with a tentative, pianissimo opening which exploded into massive dynamics.

The “scherzo” movement was a triple-time romp, with the piano moving from an accompanying role into a forte feature, taken over by a mournful and exquisitely played viola solo. Colourful pizzicato work from the strings was also a feature.

The “Grave” was solemn but intensely rich in sound. The final “Con Passione” revealed an eerie high treble wash of sound from the violins with the viola, cello and piano offering a foreboding rumble underneath, bringing this tremendous work to a close.

Throughout the work, the balance between the quartet and the piano was excellent.

Once again, the audience erupted in thunderous applause and cheers. It was an electric and enthralling evening of the finest music making.

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