Fifth Time Lucky at the Opening of the Carlisle Season!
This was a finely balanced concert in every way and considering that this international concert pianist had had four previous attempts at playing for us during the lockdown period; a recital of pure joy. Last Thursday 8th July, we were finally treated to Alicja's Chopin recital, when she opened the Carlisle Music Society's season in style, at its new venue, The Fratry.
The musical pieces were more or less chronological and set in "story form" written and narrated by Denis Lavin. He competently wove the music and its history together. This was cleverly mastered, not with just a list of dates and characters but by putting each of the musical pieces in a social context to express exactly where Chopin was and what he was thinking at the time of each composition. This was a neat idea, which was well executed.
The musical itinerary had been well-thought out and included some popular pieces but with the inclusion of a few pleasing surprises. The opening and concluding choices spanned from the delicate Nocturne opus 9 number 1 to the well-known Funeral March. The Nocturne held the audience spellbound for a second or so and left us wanting to hear the other two. Similarly, the Funeral March added a valedictory tone but although this piece has its serious moments, Alicja concentrated on bringing out the more haunting moods of the second subject.
Equally positioned were two Polonaises, the first of which was written when this child prodigy was seven, and two Mazurkas in both halves, the execution of which showed in each case that these were so much more than mere Polish dances.
The programme was not without its surprises with a transcription of the larghetto from Piano Concerto No 2. arranged by the composer himself and on this night the orchestra was not missed one bit. As a charming contrast, the penultimate piece was the Barcarolle Opus 60, which balanced beautifully with the closing Funeral March.
At first, I wondered if the unusual positioning of the piano might be a acoustically challenging for the front rows. I am happy to say that I was proved wrong and we were able to observe the hands that created these wonderful sounds - the hands of an exceptional artist.
David Wood 10/07/2021