Meetings with the Professor - Lectures of Professor Andrzej
Volume 1: Mozart
Professor Andrzej Jasiński lecturing on and performing Sonatas in C Major
(K. 330) and C Minor (K. 457)
rec. live, 25 May 2009, Concert Hall of the Karol Szymanowski Music Academy,
Picture format: 16:9, PAL; Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0; Disc Format: 5; Region
Subtitles in English; Booklet in Polish and English (Biography of Professor)
DUX DVD 9870 [88.30]
This DVD might not be for everybody but for anyone who is serious about Mozart’s
piano music it is both fascinating and informative. Professor Andrzej Jasiński
proves to be a humble yet erudite guide to these two Mozart sonatas (K. 330
and K. 457). Filmed in a large hall, the students listen attentively throughout
his 90 minute lecture-performance. If any of them lost focus, the camera never
In his opening remarks, Jasiński contends that music mirrors what is in
the heart, expressing what cannot be expressed in words. Therefore, it is the
job of today’s performers to learn as much as possible about not only
the particular piece they are playing, but also the person who composed that
piece. This is demonstrated in his discussion of the C Major Sonata (K. 330),
which he sees as an example of Mozart’s two major personality traits.
Reading from Mozart’s letters to various people, Jasiński suggests
the first trait is Mozart’s somewhat infamous frivolous side. Yet he also
suggests there is an aspect we acknowledge less often, a profoundly spiritual
side with faith in a God that will care for him, in this life and after death.
He then shows how both of these traits are written into the music. As you might
expect, the playful quick, non-legato music equates with the frivolous, while
the spiritual finds expression in the music that is legato and more richly harmonized.
Jasiński also speaks of the piano writing as analogous to orchestral instruments
and vocal terms. For instance, he equates the opening bars of the K. 330 to
a string quartet, suggesting that the right-hand melody be played like the first
violin, with the left-hand voices taken by the other members of the quartet.
On several occasions in this movement, he encourages his students to play the
melody as a singer would phrase and shape it.
These points are made phrase by phrase, sometimes even measure by measure, always
with an eye towards examining how what is written on the page expresses what
Mozart might be feeling and/or trying to express. One might suggest that this
is an overly romantic way to view and discuss music from the Classical Period,
but I found it entirely convincing.
When he talks through an entire movement, Jasiński sits down at the piano
and plays the movement, allowing us to listen out for all that he has described.
Finally, after going through the same process for movements 2 and 3, he plays
the entire C Major Sonata. His performance is wonderfully agile, true to the
music on the page and the spirit that he has described within those notes.
The same process is repeated for the Sonata in C minor, K. 457. Here he makes
particular effort to point out where Mozart’s music looks forward to other
composers in later periods. To begin, he argues that this C minor Sonata follows
the same emotional trajectory of struggling from darkness into light that is
found in Beethoven’s famous fifth symphony. There are several times where
he notes that a certain harmonic progression is something Brahms liked to do.
When Mozart moves into the unexpected keys of D-flat major and G-flat major,
Jasiński suggests he is anticipating Chopin and Schubert. To strengthen
his arguments, he then sits down and plays corresponding passages by those composers,
from memory - an enviable feat! As before, he ends the lecture with an equally
impressive performance of the Sonata K. 457.
There are no bonus materials or special features whether you watch the DVD in
Polish or you choose English subtitles. Jasiński ends his lecture by suggesting
that “humility is what we need to make progress in the art of music-making.”
That is exactly what we experience watching this DVD. His love for this music,
as well as his ardent desire to share his understanding of it, is contagious.
For anyone studying Mozart’s pianos works, watching this is a must.
David A. McConnell
For anyone studying Mozart’s piano works, watching this is a must.