LESZEK BARTKIEWICZ, APRIL 30, 2007
Leszek Bartkiewicz understands Poland; he also understands music and in particular, Chopin.
Our filming session inside Hammell Music, with a nine foot Steinway grand piano, proved all of that. Through Chopin scherzos and waltzes, he put the musical heritage of Poland in quick and beautiful context.
Frédéric Chopin, of course, was Poland’s most famous, influential and prolific composer, widely considered to be among the best writers for the piano's repertoire. Chopin was the first Western classical composer to imbue Slavic elements into his music; to this day his mazurkas and polonaises are the cornerstone of Polish Nationalistic classical music.
The technical demands on a performer playing Chopin are daunting: his music is among the toughest for piano ever written. Still, the nuance and depth of the pieces are vital to a complete performance, so the balance of finesse and tenchique what every musician seeks while playing Chopin. Bartkiewicz, son of an engineer and brother to a well-known Polish harpsichordist, was given the tools at an early age to excel at his chosen instrument. His interpretation of Chopin is equally magnificent and inspiring: He says, “Chopin has lifted Poland’s spirits, even during the lowest points of our history. He is the music of Poland, even incorporating folk tunes into his most sophisticated melodies. To listen to Chopin is to get ‘a sense of it’.”
Also a prolific teacher of piano, Bartkiewicz began his playing on an old upright piano in the family home in Bielsko-Biala in the south of Poland. Trained in Krakow, he grew up with the sense of music being an integral part of Poland’s cultural life. It’s a side of the Polish people that is often overlooked, but one which rises quickly to the surface in the impassioned performances of this maestro. We’re delighted and proud to have that side of the Detroit Polish community so eloquently displayed.