Polish piano legend conquers Bangkok stage with RBSO

Polish piano legend conquers Bangkok stage with RBSO

As with all of the truly great pianists, touch is absolutely key when it comes to delivering their excelsior interpretations of the immortal classics. This was demonstrated recently in impeccable, consummate fashion by legendary Polish soloist Krystian Zimerman, who appeared at the Thailand Cultural Centre earlier this month to a sold-out auditorium.

The concert was generously supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Zimerman performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4 In G Major, a sublime masterwork which for many connoisseurs represents the very apex of the genre, perhaps even surpassing its mighty successor (the Emperor Concerto) in terms of its heavenly structure and divinely inspired thematic content. An extremely attentive Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra was conducted by regular visiting guest conductor Charles Olivieri-Munroe, who himself is particularly efficient at co-ordinating orchestra and soloist in such a repertoire.

This was Zimerman’s second highly anticipated appearance with the RBSO. His first, as far back as 2015, was also Olivieri-Munroe’s debut in Thailand, on which occasion they presented Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1, with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in the second half. Many in the audience would have been aware of the pleasing reverse symmetry on this occasion in terms of programming, as the Beethoven concerto was neatly balanced after the interval by Brahms’ Symphony No.4 In E Minor.

The concert opened with a strikingly original contemporary work of popular appeal entitled Revolutionary Étude VS Fantasie Impromptu, by young Slovenian film-music composer Anže Rozman. A big stylistic contrast with the Germanic nature of the programme as a whole, the relevant connecting theme here was the deft juxtaposition and development of two famous tunes from Chopin’s solo piano music.

Zimerman first came to prominence at the age of 18 in 1975, when he won First Prize at the International Frédéric Chopin Competition in Warsaw, and so this most entertaining of curtain raisers, fast and furious in its playfully virtuosic orchestration, was most fitting in context. Interestingly, whilst the right-hand piano part of Chopin’s original delivers much of the filigree semiquaver pyrotechnics, it was the collective left-hands of the string section players which were put through their paces in this exhilarating rendition. The woodwind, brass and percussion also played with great gusto and aplomb towards a rousing conclusion that almost blew the roof off — bravo indeed!

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