For its latest edition, Musica visited the last rehearsal before a gala which is closing a series of concerts in Warsaw commemorating the 200th anniversary of Frederic Chopin’s birthday.
Yundi Li is an acclaimed Chinese pianist. In 2000, when still only 18, he won the prestigious Chopin Piano Competition, in Warsaw. Since then he’s become a star, in Asia and elsewhere.
“After ten years I think I feel even more close to Chopin. He’s so clear, so pure, and so simple, and also beautiful, very deep. Ten years ago I feel I played Chopin more academia-style, now I feel more free, have more freedom, and as a human being I have more life experience. It’s more relaxed, more easy, the way I play Chopin, more simple.”
Warsaw is celebrating its famous son.
Though Chopin’s father was French, his mother was Polish, and it was in Poland that he spent the first half of his life. A precociously talented child musician and composer, Chopin achieved celebrity in Europe when still an adolescent.
He would compose most of his works in France, in just less than 20 years, surrounded by the greatest minds of his time, loved by fascinating and formidable women, supported by other Polish exiles, all the while driven by a creative fervour and an aching nostalgia for his homeland.
Today this Romantic genius, who died at 39, is a real icon in Poland, as well as a marketing product and an almost adored figure given that Warsaw’s parliament formally declared 2010 the ‘Year of Chopin.’
Yundi Li also considers himself a romantic of sorts, although a 21st century version, with a somewhat hedonistic touch. He told us:
“I feel in my lifestyle very romantic – I like to go to great restaurants, sit there and eat, I like red wine; I like to drive a car, I like Ferraris. I have a Ferrari, a 430, I’m a big car fan. And I have a lot of passion, and get an exciting feeling to perform all over the world. Now I think it’s also a great time to play this wonderful genius composer.”
Warsaw recalls and re-enacts Chopin’s era, proof that the artist who was able to capture the essence of his country’s soul still haunts the Polish capital; and even contemporary, modern Warsaw is determined to remain the city of Chopin.
Here you can hear parts of the following pieces by Chopin, played by Yundi Li:
Nocturne Opus 27 No. 2
Grande Polonaise, Op. 22
Nocturne Opus 9 No. 2