Łukasz Krupiński is another emerging piano talent from Poland. He shows himself a thoughtfully imaginative pianist, creating the right stylistic differences between one fanciful Haydn, a reflective Chopin and a contrasty Scriabin and his debut CD is in every way recommendable. — pizzicato.lu
Espressione, i.e. an Italian competition struggle... From Bolzano to San Marino
When I started my musical journey to Italy in August earlier this year, I did not expect that it would end with me winning the piano competition in San Marino. At first, I visited Bolzano where the summer heat was slowing down the efforts of the participants of the competition, including myself, who wanted to qualify for the final of the Ferruccio Busoni International Competition. I made it, I passed to the narrow group of the final lucky few and immediately started the countdown to the next summer when the final of the competition takes place. The Polonaise-Fantaisie by Frédéric Chopin, which I included on the CD, was a Polish touch in my competition recital.
From Bolzano, with a huge suitcase filled with scores, neatly folded suit, and one package of Prosciutto di Parma, I went to Leipzig by train. How great was my surprise when I was informed on my arrival that my practising time is strictly limited; therefore, I started looking for a piano. Thanks to the courtesy of Martin Hoffmeister I could practice on his piano in his house, for which I am very grateful to him! Martin commented the situation with a witty observation that it would be a real paradox if I did not have access to a piano three weeks before the start of the San Marino Competition.
From Leipzig I flew to Milan where Giulia, wife of the excellent pianist Sergio Marchegiani, was waiting for me at the airport. She smiled at me, said "Saluti", and took me in a car to Alessandria. There I could marvel at the charming Italian landscape, preparing for a concert in the beautiful church La Chiesa Parrocchiale. After the concert, on Sunday morning, Sergio accompanied me to the train station in Rimini; I felt that the International Piano Competition in San Marino had just started for me... I opened the first stage with the Sonata Fantasy by Scriabin; I included this piece on the CD, as it marked the beginning of an important musical chapter in my life. After two days of anxiety whether I would qualify for the next stage or not, I learnt that I was in the group of 15 pianists of the second stage. This time I performed, e.g., Haydn's Sonata and Chopin's Barcarolle, which I also incorporated on the CD. On Thursday evening, I learnt that I qualified for the final and I immediately went to practice the 3rd movement of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto in C minor. The rehearsals for the finale in the Teatro Dogano were a pleasure to me thanks to openness and support of the Orchestra and the Conductor. Eventually, the evening of the final arrived, I was driven from the hotel to the theatre by the smiling Marco who worked for Allegro Vivo. I got out of the car and glanced at a beautifully illuminated fountain in front of the theatre. I thought to myself: it is time to play Rachmaninov the way I feel it. After the final performance, the wait for announcement of the results was dragging forever. Finally, we were called on the stage and they started announcing the prizes. At first, I received the Orchestra award, which gave me great pleasure, then the next one of the music critics, and probably the most precious one for every artist – the audience prize. Finally, my name was called out as the winner of the Competition in San Marino.
As musicians often underline, "you live for the moment" – it was exactly that moment, that instant that I will remember to the end of my life.
Espressione – to express something, esprimersi – to express yourself; these are the words that I will remember most from my musical journey to Italy.
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
♪ Piano Sonata in A flat major, Hob. XVI:46 (1767-1768)
i. Allegretto moderato
iii. Finale: Presto
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
♪ Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op.60 (1845-1846)
♪ Waltz in E flat major, Op.18 "Grande valse brillante" (1831-1832)
♪ Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat major, Op.61 (1846)
♪ Nocturne No.20 in C sharp minor, Op. posth. "Lento con gran espressione" (1830)
Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)
♪ Piano Sonata No.2 in G sharp minor "Sonata-Fantasy", Op.19 (1898)
Łukasz Krupiński, piano
Recorded at the Concert Hall of the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music in Lusławice on 25-27 November 2016
(HD 1080p – Audio video)
Joseph Haydn: Piano Sonata in A flat major, Hob. XVI:46
No Haydn sonata is more indebted to Emanuel Bach's brand of Empfindsamkeit – the language of heightened sensibility that had its literary roots in the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the German poet Klopstock – than the Sonata in A flat, No.46, composed around 1767-1768. Beyond any specific influence, this beautiful work reflects the striking intensification of Haydn's musical idiom in the years immediately following his elevation to full Kapellmeister at the Esterházy court in 1766. Opening with a typically empfindsamer theme, irregularly phrased and characterized by delicate ornaments and sighing appoggiaturas, the first movement surpasses all its predecessors in scale, expressive richness and variety of rhythm and texture. As so often in Haydn's earlier sonatas, the central section is more a free fantasia than a true development, though here the exhilarating toccata-like figuration sweeps through an unusually adventurous spectrum of keys.
For the Adagio, Haydn moves to the subdominant, D flat major, an outré key in the eighteenth century and one never used by Mozart. With the extreme tonality goes a peculiar intimacy of expression: from the delicate contrapuntal opening, with the bass descending passacaglia-style, this is one of the most subtle and poetic of all Haydn's slow movements. The polyphonic and chromatic enrichment of the main theme in the development suggests not so much C.P. E. as J.S. Bach at his most inward; and Haydn opens up further strange harmonic vistas in the coda. With its catchy, quicksilver main theme, the compact sonata-form finale provides a glorious physical release. Yet for all its exuberance this is no mere frothy romp. The darting semiquaver figuration always has a strong sense of direction, above all in the powerful chromatic sequences just before the recapitulation.
Source: Richard Wigmore, 2007 (hyperion-records.co.uk)
Frédéric Chopin: Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op.60
In the final years of his short life, Chopin reached a new plateau of creative achievement. His sketches from these years suggest that the agony of composition, the resistance it set up, wrested from him only music of an exceptional, transcendent quality. And nowhere is this clearer than in the three great extended works of 1845-1846: the Barcarolle Op.60, Polonaise-fantaisie Op.61 and Cello Sonata Op.65. When he composed his only Barcarolle, artistic appropriations of this popular genre (effectively a gondolier's song) were to be found mainly in opera, but there were also examples in Lieder (as, for example, in Schubert's Auf dem Wasser zu singen and Auf dem See), and some in post-classical traditions of popular pianism (including some of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words: the "Gondellied" in A major and "Venetian gondolieras"). However, piano works with this title were invariably simple in design and texture, and usually a straightforward transfer from the operatic genre. So Chopin's monumental work, with its complex formal organization, was quite unlike anything else in piano music at the time, though it did of course set a precedent (Liszt, Fauré, and many others).
A unique synthesis of extended ternary form, sonata form and fantasy, the Barcarolle is separated from its sentimental archetype by an unbridgeable gulf. And the gulf is widened and deepened by some of Chopin's most sophisticated harmonies, including lengthy chromatic modulations that are seemingly without a clear tonal goal, and a use of dissonance that extends well beyond classical norms. At the same time – and this makes the work all the more powerful – the composer retains the principal outward features of the popular genre: the 12/8 metre, the moderate tempo, the measured, ostinato-like, rocking accompaniment and the cantilena melodic line led in double notes (mostly thirds and sixths). It is worth noting that these generic features do appear in several earlier works by Chopin, including all four Ballades and above all the G major Nocturne Op.37 No.2, really a barcarolle in disguise. But in the end Op.60 stands as a solitary masterpiece, carrying the gentle swaying lyricism of the vernacular genre through to the powerfully climactic perorations of its final stages.
Source: Jim Samson, 2009 (hyperion-records.co.uk)
Frédéric Chopin: Waltz in E flat major, Op.18 "Grande valse brillante"
Frédéric Chopin's published waltzes (actually valses – a subtle but significant stylistic distinction) fall into two distinct categories: sparkling, highly ornamented jewels suitable, to at least some degree, for actual ballroom use; and more introspective, often rather melancholy, miniatures that are far removed from the fashionable Viennese waltzes of Joseph Lanner or Johann Strauss I. The earliest of the published waltzes (actually fifth in order of composition), the Grande Valse brillante in E flat major, Op.18, is an example of the former.
This aristocratic work presents its young composer in a particularly extroverted mood; surely the main theme of the work, introduced after a lively four-bar fanfare, is one of Chopin's most famous. The composer toys with a secondary, repeated-note gesture (marked leggieramente) before making a happily-chosen move to D flat major; the chromatic figure in parallel thirds that runs throughout a good part of this central section provides a good taste of the composer's more mature style. An extended version of the opening fanfare ushers in the reprise of the initial tune, which, upon reiteration some forty bars later, is broken up by the unexpected intrusion of two bar-long grand pauses.
Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)
Frédéric Chopin: Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat major, Op.61
The Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat major, Op.61, was Chopin's last extended work, written in 1846, three years before his death. By both its title and structure, it is in a class of its own. It is an exploratory, original work which, judging from the manuscript, caused Chopin some difficulty before he arrived at a satisfactory version. Although the distinctive rhythm of the polonaise is present in the opening theme, elsewhere it is often absent altogether, the "fantasy" part of the title implying a feeling of rhapsodic improvisation. Through thematic recall and his innate sense of form, pacing and proportion, Chopin manages to achieve a remarkably cohesive whole.
Jeremy Nicholas, 2010 (hyperion-records.co.uk)
Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne No.20 in C sharp minor, Op. posth. "Lento con gran espressione"
The Nocturne No.20 in C sharp minor, Op. posth. "Lento con gran espressione" is a solo piano piece composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1830 and published in 1870.
Chopin dedicated this work to his older sister, Ludwika Chopin, with the statement: "To my sister Ludwika as an exercise before beginning the study of my second Concerto". First published 26 years after the composer's death, the piece is usually referred to as Lento con gran espressione, from its tempo marking. It is sometimes also called Reminiscence.
The piece was played by Holocaust survivor Natalia Karp for the Nazi concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth, with Goeth being so impressed with the rendition, that he spared Karp's life.
Alexander Scriabin: Piano Sonata No.2 in G sharp minor "Sonata-Fantasy", Op.19
The final compositions of Alexander Scriabin's spectacular but relatively brief career stand at the gates of true atonality, and are representatives of a unique musical world in which traditional harmony is subjected to the more overpoweringly personal effects of an ever-deepening mystical and theosophical outlook.
During the concert tour-filled 1890s, however, all these controversial things were still just shadows lurking in the corner, and such works as the Sonata No.2 in G sharp minor for piano, Op.19 continue to represent the tradition of piano music as handed down to Scriabin from Chopin and Liszt. This Sonata has always been among those works of Scriabin's most warmly received by audiences, and it is indeed a spectacularly expressive work in the hands of an insightful pianist. Scriabin was somewhat uncomfortable with calling this two-movement (slow-fast) work a sonata, and so, for a time, he let it pass as a "Sonata-Fantasy".
The piece was completed during a five-month stay in Paris during 1897, but sketches date to 1892, when the composer was 20 years of age. Scriabin provided an oceanic program for the work, condensed as follows: the first section of the Andante is a calm southern night on the seashore, the movement of the deep sea is given in the development, while an illuminating E major passage offers the first rays of moonlight. The agitated Presto movement is a rendition of a terrifying ocean storm. Certainly the gently rolling arpeggiations of the Andante, and especially the deeply sonorous B major end of the exposition, call to mind something almost impossibly deep and stable – a stability soon undercut, however, by the fragmented phrases and harmonic conflicts of the development. The "moonlight" is given a treatment in the instrument's glistening upper register, occasionally recalling the same deep arpeggiations of the opening (and in doing so calling to mind Debussy's famous "moonlight" piano work Clair de lune); Scriabin feels no need to force his Andante into a conventional harmonic mode, and the movement ends without ever regaining the darkness of G sharp minor. The almost perpetual motion of the Presto, and its occasional outbursts of real fear, are poured back into an exuberant G sharp minor sonata allegro design. How welcome is that glowing moment before the recapitulation, when Scriabin allows us to glimpse the lyric sub-theme in D flat major, after more tragic appeals in E flat minor and B flat minor!
Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)
Łukasz Krupiński – winner of the 7th International Piano Competition in San Marino, and the winner of all contest prizes: the Audience Award, the Music Critics Award, and the Orchestra Award (September 2016). In the same month, as the only Pole got into the finals of the International Competition of Ferruccio Busoni in Bolzano, which will be held in August 2017. In March 2016 he was awarded with the first prize at the ClaviCologne International Piano Competition. In October 2015 Łukasz found himself in the prestigious group of the best 20 pianists of the 17th Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition.
Łukasz Krupiński has given numerous concerts in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Belgium, France, Norway, Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, China, Korea, Australia and the USA.
Two-time laureate of the "Pro Polonia" Foundation Award (2013, 2014), the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Prize for remarkable artistic accomplishments (2013, 2014), the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Scholarship (2015) and Krystian Zimerman Foundation Scholarship (2015). In 2016 he was honoured with a Commemorative Medal of Frédéric Chopin University of Music in recognition of artistic achievements.
The pianist has won numerous prestigious prizes and awards at international piano competitions, including the Stanislaw Moniuszko International Competition of Slavic Music in Minsk, Belarus, 2011 (First Prize and Special Award), the 2nd Chopin Siberian International Piano Competition in Tomsk, 2013 (Grand Prix and two Special Awards), Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe Scholarship Competition 2014 (First Prize), the 46th Polish National Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, 2015 (Second Prize), the 15th International Piano Competition 2015 of Chopin-Gesellschaft Hannover (First Prize), the ClaviCologne International Piano Competition 2016 in Aachen (First Prize).
Born in 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, began piano lessons at the age of five. Graduate of the Frédéric Chopin University of Music in Warsaw under the supervision of Professor Alicja Paleta-Bugaj and Dr. Konrad Skolarski. Currently he has been a student of Professor Arie Vardi at Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media.
Source: CD Booklet
The winners of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015