Piano Street Magazine

The Real Chopin Shines in Warsaw

November 30th, 2023 in Articles by

Following the success of the first International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments launched in Warsaw in 2018, the Chopin Institute invited the world to its second edition on 5 – 15 October 2023. Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell was present at the finals in Warsaw and had a chance to ask Chopin Institute’s Aleksander Laskowski a couple of questions in the grand hall of the National Philharmonic.

The success and wide reception of the first edition in 2018 ensured a regular organisation of the event – every five years – in between the regular International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competitions.
The competition, which consisted of three stages, took place at the National Philharmonic. It featured 35 participants who had the opportunity to perform on original historical instruments as well as newly built replicas by renowned instrument builder Paul McNulty. In the first round, participants were given the chance to showcase their skills with both Chopin and non-Chopin repertoire.

Aleksander Laskowski (right) was interviewed by Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell during the competition.

Piano Street: The Chopin Institute and you have just completed the second edition of the International Chopin Piano Competition on Period Instruments, this time named ”The Real Chopin”. How would you sum up this edition in comparison to the first which took place in 2018?

Aleksander Laskowski: The Chopin Competition on Period Instruments, an event unique on a global scale, is a natural consequence of Chopin Institute’s efforts over many years to popularise the performances of Chopin’s music on period instruments. The first edition of the Competition took place in 2018 at Warsaw Philharmonic. 60 pianists from 19 countries applied and Tomasz Ritter of Poland was the winner.

PS: The interest in the Competition has increased, how many applied this time?

AL: 86 pianists applied, 35 from the whole world were qualified to the Competition. They had at their disposal 20 period pianos: originals and replicas from the collection of the Chopin Institute and borrowed from leading piano builders and renovators in Europe.

PS: Two rounds and finals, what was required in terms of repertoire of the contestants?

The programme included, apart from works by Chopin, selected pieces by J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart, and also polonaises by Polish composers from the first half of the 19th century. The finalists performed Chopin with Martyna Pastuszka’s {oh!} Orchestra conducted by Vaclav Luks.

PS: Could you note a difference in your reach out this time in comparison with 2018?

AL: The second edition proved that this competition truly makes sense, attracting the attention of music professionals and music lovers around the world. The whole Competition was broadcast by the Polish Radio and streamed online. The streams were followed in great numbers around the globe, attracting hundreds of thousands of music lovers.

PS: A competition has a jury and laureats, who were they?

AL: The international jury included eminent specialists in period piano performance practice as well as in the interpretation of Chopin’s music: Paolo Giacometti, Ives Henry, Tobias Koch, Vaclav Luks, Janusz Olejniczak, Olga Pashchenko, Ewa Pobłocka, Andreas Staier and Wojciech Świtała.
The winner of this year’s edition is the 22-years old Canadian Eric Guo. 2nd award went to Piotr Pawlak (Poland), 3rd ex aequo to Angie Zhang (USA) and Yonghuan Zhong (China).

The laureates of the International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments.

PS: When will the 3rd edition take place?

AL: The 3rd edition of the Chopin Competition on Period Pianos is planned for in 2028.

The Chopin and His Europe International Festival

Bringing back the authentic sound of Frederic Chopin’s music has always been a key focus for the Chopin Institute. This mission is fulfilled through various initiatives, including the annual Chopin and His Europe International Festival, which was first organized in 2005. The festival has played a significant role in reinterpreting Chopin’s music and has attracted top pianists and orchestras specializing in historically informed performance.

The Period Instrument Collection

The Chopin Institute has also built an impressive collection of period pianos and replicas, starting with the acquisition of an Erard from 1849.

Original Erard from 1849

These instruments are made available to renowned pianists, allowing them to experience the music as it was originally intended. Additionally, the Institute has achieved great success with its “The Real Chopin” series, which features the complete works of Chopin in their original sound on a series of CDs.

Resources

Which period instruments were used in the Competition? See them presented by the Chopin Institute:
https://iccpi.pl/en/2023/pianos

More articles about the competition:
Watch the Chopin Competition on Period Instruments with us!
Embracing the Past Now – The Messenger Paul McNulty in Warsaw
“The Real Chopin” – the 2nd International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments

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