ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Frederic Chopin - Piano Concertos - Jan Lisiecki


FREDERIC CHOPIN - Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - Jan Lisiecki (Piano) - Howard Shelley (Conductor) - Sinfonia Varsovia - Fryderyk Chopin Institute 5907690736156

Since Frederic Chopin was only 19 years old when he composed his Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor in 1829 (actually written first), perhaps it is appropriate that the pianist on this recording, Jan Lisiecki, is only 14 years old. No, that is not a misprint, he is fourteen years old. He was born in 1995 in Calgary, Canada, and has already, since the age of nine, performed more than 35 times with orchestras in major music centres. He has shared the stage with luminaries of the day, has been awarded many prizes, and has seen some of his performances broadcast on radio and television, all the while still attending high school. Quite an accomplishment already and a busy schedule for someone that age.

I must admit that my assumptions and skepticism vanished within moments into my initial sampling of this CD. Jan Lisiecki plays this wonderful music with assurance, a firm technique, maturity, solid execution, and above all with the emotional weight and perspective of a seasoned musician. The two Larghetto middle movements in particular are deployed with patience, care and a profound understanding of the mind behind them. These two concertos were created during Chopin's happiest years and display some of his most beautiful writing. The slow movement of the No. 2 in particular has piano phrases that would melt the heart of a Sasquatch. The conductor in this 'live' recording, Howard Shelley, is himself a world class pianist, and therefore provides the perfect orchestral support. The performances were captured during the 'Chopin and his Europe' festival in Warsaw. Unless life's hardships get in the way, Jan Lisiecki's potential is limitless if this recording is any indication of his talent and musicianship. Now a household name, Evgeny Kissin also recorded these same concertos in a live 1984 concert at the age of 12, and launched into a career that is still very active today in 2010. The same outcome and more awaits Jan Lisiecki.

Jean-Yves Duperron