The notes of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto number Four magically resounded at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Centre earlier this month. The orchestra, in top shape, performed under the baton of its Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The magician’s name is Polish Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, just 20 years of age.
“It’s such a strange but warm beginning. It’s the same thing played by the orchestra in an even warmer way than what I can do at the piano, and I think it’s welcoming in that way, it welcomes you into its cushion, into its environment. It’s a piece that will take you on a journey, and it starts in a beautiful place, it takes to some very dark places, but it ends also in a happy place.
‘People need to be treated by music for our modern world; we’re so bombarded with information, with news, with things that we have to do, that going into a concert hall should be like going into a sanctuary, a sanctuary where you are there to be cleansed of all these things, and you’re there also to have a moment of reflection and, hopefully, leave the hall feeling different, feeling new.
‘I’m a person who loves adventure and I like enjoying what comes my way. My favourite thing to do in a new city is just to walk with a vague goal of where you’d like to go.
‘There has to be spontaneity and also there has to be some rational thinking, but the best performances are those where you don’t have to balance the two, when it comes naturally: you come up with an idea and you communicate that with the conductor and the orchestra while performing, and it just works! For you those are the best moments, and I think for the audience too because then they are taken along! It’s a surprise for us, so it’s also a surprise for them!” Jan explained.
Jan can amaze with his mature musicality at such an early age; his qualities are rare. The Music Director of the orchestra,Yannick Nézet-Séguin, summed up the essence of Jan’s talent.
“Purity, clarity, honesty, and it’s always been the case with him, even when he was 14… technically as well: he hardly touches the pedal, there’s no cheating, it’s music in its sheer truth. What he does is already wonderful but we know that in ten or twenty years it will be even more wonderful!”, he opined.
The two work as a team and have much in common, concluded the young pianist.
“I think Yannick and I, we share the joy of life and the joy of making music. We both approach it with joy, it’s not a chore, it’s not something that we have to do. And, at least, that’s the way it comes across when I’m on stage with Yannick. I think we always enter and leave the stage with a smile.”
“Schumann”, Jan Lisiecki’s third album with Deutsche Grammophon, came out in January 2016, and was recorded with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, conducted by Antonio Pappano.