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It was admirable to hear such a stylistically authentic performance of three of Chopin's works, with a technique that was swift and agile, and a tone that was never forced. This was particularly an advantage in Karolina's interpretation of the Scherzo in B flat minor, which otherwise can easily sound too overwrought and pretentious. In the Grand Polonaise that followed the Andante Spianato, though, a stronger orchestral sonority was required at times, and perhaps a touch more pedal to compensate for the very dry acoustics of the venue.

In the second half, the music was by Paderewski (1860-1941), one of the greatest pianists of all time and one-time Polish Prime Minister. His compositions are almost unknown nowadays, and it was a delight to hear these by-and-large Chopinesque pieces that occasionally had more bravura than taste.

Karolina gave stunning performances of Paderewski's Legend, Barcarolle and Polonaise, playing them with an authority and earnestness that great music deserves. Her tone was much grander and bolder than in the first half of the concert, which is much in the spirit and style of Paderewski's own execution, which attracted audiences with its sheer grandeur and volume.

This well-received recital prompted two encores: firstly Chopin's F minor Etude Op 10 No 9, performed with virtuosity and an ear for unusual sonorities; finally his Nocturne in B major Op 9 No 3, which in the hands of such an exemplary pianist was guaranteed to send the enthusiastic audience home in raptures. It is good to know that this event represented only the first in a future exchange of outstanding young virtuosi between England and Poland -- the next to take place in Warsaw when Mrs Maxwell presents Karolina's English counterpart, the young Ashley Fripp, to a Polish public.

Copyright © 12 June 2006 Tau Wey, London UK




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