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Chopin Concerto 2 Larghetto Pt 1 Zimerman Rec 1999

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Uploaded on May 21, 2009

On April 26, I attended a recital given by Krystian Zimerman in Los Angeles. The program included the Bach Partita No. 2 in C minor, and Beethovens Sonata 32 in C minor (I had heard Andras Shiff perform the same sonata three weeks earlier in the same hall.) After intermission, Zimerman was programmed to play the Brahms Klavierstucke, Op. 119. However, he instead played the Piano Sonata No. 2 (1953) by the Polish composer Grazyna Bacewic. The recital concluded with Szymanowskis Variations on a Polish Theme Op. 10. I will quote from Mark Sweds, (Los Angeles Times) review of the recital. "Zimerman (who doesnt allow photos taken of his performances) had been in a seemingly curious mood all evening. Normally the most exacting of pianists, he dispatched with strange impatience Bachs Partita No. 2 and Beethovens Piano Sonata 32, Opus 111, in the first half of the program. He quickly walked over to the piano and, instead of allowing the audience to be quiet, he launched into each piece, not even waiting for late-comers to be seated before beginning Beethovens most visionary sonata.
Before playing the final work on his recital, Karol Szymanowskis Variations on a Polish Folk Theme, Zimerman more typically sat meditatively on his bench for a moment. Twice he leaned toward the keys and almost began to play, but then turned to the audience saying that he had not planned to speak but decided he could not keep silent. "
What Zimerman had to say was criticism of United States foreign policy and particularly that policy concerning Poland. He also said that he would not play in the United States again. . The only part of his remarks that I heard distinctly was, "Get your hands off my country." Someone sitting a few seats from me shouted an obscenity at the pianist and left. Others in the audience yelled, Play the piano and others, We came to hear a piano recital. About 30 to 40 people got up and left the hall. Needless to say, Zimermans performance of the Szymanowski Variations on a Polish Folk Theme, played after his remarks, was not a perfunctory one. To again quote Mark Swed it was played with "idealistic patriotic zeal. Its a good thing that he looks after his own pianos, because this one will probably want some doctoring after the treatment he gave it.."
Zimerman is soloist and conductor of the Polish Festival Orchestra in this performance.

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