Chopin Without Piano

Friday November 13, 2015

Barbara Wysocka in Chopin Without Piano
Barbara Wysocka in Chopin Without Piano  (Source:ArtsEmerson)

ArtsEmerson continues to push the boundaries of what to expect out of them with their current marvel, "Chopin Without Piano."

Created by the Polish team of Michal Zadara and Barbara Wysocka, it is a soaring meditation on the life and legacy of Frederic Chopin.

Grounded in a performance of Chopin's two piano concertos (E minor and F minor) the production has conductor Franck Ollu leading an outstanding Boston Conservatory Orchestra with Barbara Wysocka as soloist. But things are quickly turned on their head when instead of beginning the expected piano solo during the first movement, Ms. Wysocka dives in to a complex and engrossing monologue in place of the piano. Additionally, the monologue is performed in Polish with English supertitles.

The monologue is both expansive and incredibly detailed. Ms. Wysocka uses the rhythm of the language throughout the evening to mirror the musical line of the missing piano. It is an experience unlike anything else currently on stage.

Barbara Wysocka in Chopin Without Piano
Barbara Wysocka in Chopin Without Piano  (Source: ArtsEmerson)

Each movement focuses on a different theme or collection of writings. We hear Chopin's personal letters, commentary on his work by contemporaries, thoughts on what it's like to perform his concerti, and eventually posthumous praise from his fellow countrymen.

It is a challenging piece -- especially for an English speaking audience. Much of the monologue goes by as quickly as the phantom sixteenth notes in the piano part. To follow both the supertitles as well as Ms. Wysocka can seem a bit daunting. But it's well worth the effort.

Ms. Wysocka performance is a virtuosic as any pianist today. Those who love Chopin, piano, or even classical music should not miss this production.

The remaining performances of "Chopin Without Piano" are Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14 at the Emerson/Paramount Mainstage, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA. For more information visit the ArtsEmerson webpage.