Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra

William Tell – Overture
Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor, Op.21
Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92

Ewa Poblocka (piano)

Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Antoni Wit

0 of 5 stars

Reviewed by: Jason Boyd

Reviewed: 30 January, 2005
Venue: The Dome, Brighton

The opportunity of hearing Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto (actually his first) played by the Warsaw Philharmonic (the venue of the premiere in 1830) and the Polish pianist Ewa Poblocka was appealing for obvious reasons. Chopin remained deeply loyal to his Polish roots throughout his life and hadn’t yet moved to Paris when he completed his two piano concertos. The nationalistic identification with his music was immediate, one critic writing about the Concerto’s premiere: “Chopin knows what sounds are heard in our fields and woods, he has listened to the songs of the Polish villager, he has made it his own and has united the tunes of his native land and in skillful composition and elegant execution”. It was pleasing to think that the musicians visiting Brighton could bring an authentic context for this performance.

Ewa Poblocka brought faultless technique to her rendition, which enabled the many flourishes (particularly in the first movement) to trickle effortlessly from the piano. It was clear that this is music Poblocka was proud of and that she wished to push this music to the fore. Although such self-denial shows a certain respect for the music (no one could accuse Poblocka of virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake), there was also a distinct lack of excitement. Fine technique, a clear understanding of the structure, excellent control and little rubato with which to distort the shape of Chopin’s music … but it seemed all too familiar. However, Chopin, too, didn’t rely on virtuoso flamboyance.

Antoni Wit was also restrained if encouraging of the orchestra to shape phrases in a relaxed unaffected manner. The overture to William Tell was soundly played; this music, no doubt well known by the orchestra, resulted in a good icebreaker. After the interval the orchestra and Wit came into their own. Louis Spohr’s graphic account of Beethoven himself conducting this work shows the intensity of feeling Beethoven brought to his performances (“vehement jerks of the arm, leaps in the air…”) and the wide dynamic range he wanted. Wit achieved this in less eccentric fashion and brought the best from the players. The colours and varying moods presented in this work were well brought out, with some of the most impassioned playing of the evening. The build up of the second movement Allegretto was well defined and sculptured and there was plenty of life in the scherzo. Overall, this was a well-paced and controlled yet so exciting and fulfilling performance. Two encores were forthcoming including one of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances. The concert as a whole was not definitive but certainly enjoyable despite the Dome’s dry acoustic.

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