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My Polish Diary
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-49)
Variations Brillantes, op.12 [8:59]
Juliusz ZARĘBSKI (1854-85)
Les roses et les épines [20:28]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Masques, op.34 [25:16]
Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941)
Caprice in G major, op.14 [2:48]
Nocturne in b flat major, op.16 [4:00]
Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994)
Two etudes (1941) [4:48]
Kiryl Keduk (piano)
rec. Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), Germany, 1-5 October 2012
DELOS DE3432 [66:41]

Kiryl Keduk was the recipient of the Kempinski Young Artist Programme Fellowship in 2012. The programme was set up in 2009 as a way of supporting emerging new talent in music and the visual arts by the Kempinski Hotel chain. This disc is the second released featuring past winners. Born in Grodno, Belarus to a Belorussian mother and Polish father his musical inspirations come from those two countries where his emotional heart lies. His father took him to Poland to complete his musical education. Keduk chosen to feature the music of Polish composers for his debut disc. He explains in the booklet that he wanted to present “great music that - compared to well-known masterpieces - (and) is rarely heard or recorded.” Naturally enough he begins with Chopin, choosing Variations Brillantes which I must say I didn’t recognise. They are, as is true of all Chopin’s music, superb. Published in 1833 these Variations are examples of his early compositions. The writing is full of bravura and the music clearly was clearly intended so that he could use it to dazzle audiences. At the same time it contains the most wonderfully delicate passages - an aspect for which Chopin was justly famous.
 
Keduk then features the music of a composer who is virtually unknown, Juliusz Zarębski, a native of Zytomierz (now part of Ukraine) where he was born in 1854. A pupil of Liszt, he was a teacher at the Brussels Conservatory where he composed his short cycle of five pieces Les roses et les épines (the rose and the thorns). This he premièred in December 1882. Keduk writes that they are “beautifully romantic, as well as refreshingly honest and clean.” That they certainly are and Keduk does them full justice with playing that reveals their delightfully gentle character; I really loved the opening piece - absolutely gorgeous.
 
A complete contrast comes next in the form of Szymanowski’s Masques which were written in 1915-1916. These comprise three pieces that sport the following titles: Shéhérazade,Tantris the buffoon and Sérénade de Don Juan. The first was inspired by the characters of Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba from the 1001 Nights stories. It is suitably ‘oriental’ in style creating an exotic atmosphere that is quite bewitching. Szymanowski’s music is a brilliant mixture of dreamily romantic and modern styles and is well worth getting to know by anyone who has not yet discovered him. The second piece is one that refers to the 1907 play Tantris der Narr (Tantris the fool) - Tantris being an anagram of Tristan. The last one obviously refers to the Don Juan made famous through Byron’s poem and Mozart’s opera. The music is suitably seductive in character.
 
Kiryl Keduk then presents two short pieces by Paderewski who though renowned as a brilliant pianist was also an extremely good composer which these two little gems show very well.
 
Bringing this recital to a close we hear two short pieces by Witold Lutosławski, whose centenary it is this year (2013). It was a shame to read that the etudes were intended to be part of a complete cycle that never progressed beyond these two. They are fantastic demonstrations of bravura pianism and Keduk despatches them with seeming ease.
 
It is always a pleasure to learn of corporate support for the arts. The Kempinsky Hotel chain is to be congratulated for initiating their Young Artist Programme and through it for helping to launch the career of someone like Kiryl Keduk. He has so much obvious natural talent. It is no surprise to read that he has won no fewer than fourteen prizes in international piano competitions, including the prestigious James Mottram International Piano Competition in Manchester at which he won first position in 2010. His playing is sensitive with a real ability to reflect the most gentle of phrasing and to produce the fireworks when required. The programme he has chosen is very well balanced with a good mix of the delicate and the explosive. It also serves to reveal some rarely heard works that should be better known. This is a fine disc with which to launch his career and I look forward to hearing more from him.
 
Steve Arloff


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