The Malta Independent 26 February 2024, Monday
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A Polish treat: a brilliant pianist to celebrate the Republic’s independence

Marie Benoît Sunday, 3 December 2023, 08:50 Last update: about 4 months ago

An invitation from the Polish Embassy in Malta to a piano recital, on the occasion of the Republic of Poland's 105th anniversary of the restoration of Poland's Independence in 1918, was most welcome.  I had missed the reception. In fact regretfully, I missed another three receptions of other embassies to which I was invited. I couldn't visualise myself, with a crutch in my right hand and a drink in the other, trying to balance myself and converse at the same time. There is a time for everything. The crutch will soon go. Hopefully I won't go with it.

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I was determined to enjoy the concert by a young Polish pianist, Aleksander Dębicz. Poland immediately brings to mind Chopin, Ursule, my Polish friend from Mauritius (a depressive I lost track of unfortunately. She had moved to Paris, her great love but has stopped answering emails and phone calls). Poland also brings to mind a holiday in Krakow, organised by one of my daughters and husband, which we thoroughly enjoyed.  

I asked if the pianist was going to play Chopin. The answer was yes. I was happy.

 

On the day, I set out with a friend for Palazzo De La Salle, a third friend insisted on dropping us.  We could not understand why the traffic was even slower than usual only to discover, later, that it was because of the SIGMA conference. We finally got to Palazzo de la Salle, late, to find His Excellency Ambassador Tomasz Czyszek, graciously waiting at the top of the stairs.

The concert hall was full except for a few empty seats which, I am happy to say, were eventually filled by guests who arrived even later, due to the traffic. I was secretly glad we were not the last to arrive.

 

His Excellency introduced the young pianist. He commented that "the concert was going to be performed by the Polish pianist Aleksander Dębicz an impressive and one of the most talented Polish pianists. He is also a composer. His two main points of departure are improvisation and his own original music which he frequently combines with the works of classical masters like Johann Sebastian Bach and Fryderyk Chopin. As he is an avid cinemagoer, his love of film music marks one of the key directions in his activity as a composer. So far, he has recorded 5 music albums. He received plenty of Polish and international awards and has given concerts in many countries."

 

The young pianist/composer came on stage, informally dressed and in trainers. It's the age of comfort. To me, for someone to be sitting at a piano, playing one piece after another, with no music score, has always seemed a little short of a miracle.

Aleksander told us a little about the music he was about to play, which I always welcome. It also humanizes the performer and brings him or her closer to the audience.

There was little doubt that we were in the presence of a brilliant pianist.  In his improvisations we got glimpses of Chopin's Nocturne in F minor, a piece created for those who are suffering from stress. Beautiful and relaxing. You feel the  loneliness and sorrow in it. Other Chopin improvisations were on Prelude in C Major op. 28; Berceuse op 57; Mazurka in D major;  Mazurka in A minor and Mazurka in F Major.

As the Ambassador had told us, the pianist is an avid cinemagoer so he played his own composition, A letter to Mr Newman inspired by Thomas Newman's film music and Prometheus inspired by Ridley Scott's film under the same title all of which can be found in his albums. There were more of his original compositions: Toccata 4, Toccata 1, The Union. The latter is his latest composition, written for the 15th anniversary of Poland's accession to the European Union and as encore Finale.

Although I prefer 'pure' Chopin played without any improvisations, I enjoyed the music very much because it was so beautifully played. But also because I admired the pianist's improvisations. It may sound easy to improvise but I am told it isn't. Improvisations are never written down so each time a musician improvises he has to do it on the spur of the moment. I have a feeling it is just another gift, like playing by ear.

Judging from his output this young man is prolific. He has composed music for films, radio dramas and theatrical spectacles. Also music for other instruments. There is his composition PasaCatedral for concertante guitar, oboe, piano, and strings, a Guitar Academy Festival commission presented in Poland's oldest cathedrals with outstanding guitarist Łukasz Kuropaczewski as soloist. Victoria 1920 was written in 2020 for the centenary celebrations of the Battle of Warsaw. And so it goes on.

This was a most welcome evening which started badly because of the traffic but ended with everyone in good humour, because of the excellent music.

May we request an encore, Your Excellency?

 

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Photos: Kugler Katarzyna Photography

 

Dott. Anna Porcheddu’s popular La Scatola Magica will take place on 5 December at 6pm at the Church of Santa Caterina d’Italia in Valletta. The guest will be Anna Tamiozzo who is a graduate in organ playing and composition and in the playing of the mandolin. Also participating that evening will be Maestro Anedda with whom she has frequently collaborated. This is an occasion to exchange good wishes and listen to some lovely music.


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