This year's edition of Chopin and his Europe International Music Festival features such illustrious performers as Elisabeth Leonskaja, Dina Yoffe, Ingrid Filter, Plamena Mangova, Janina Fiałkowska, Alexander Lonquich, Denis Matsuev, Dmitri Alexeev, Alexei Lubimov, Nelson Goerner, Janusz Olejniczak and Chopin Competition finalists...
Some of the International Chopin Competition's previous finalists are also in attendance: Yulianna Avdeeva, Evgeni Bozhanov, Daniil Trifonov (who in recent months has also triumphed at competitions in Tel Aviv and Moscow, and who make two appearances at the festival) and François Dumont, as well as Paweł Wakarecy, Leonora Armellini and Irene Veneziano. Competition winner Yulianna Avdeeva gives a recital on a modern piano, and also plays on a period instrument with the famous British ensemble the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, in a performance of both of Chopin's piano concertos.
Alongside recitals, symphonic concerts and oratorios, a number of chamber music concerts are also planned, including one dedicated entirely to Polish music. Martha Argerich is making yet another appearance, which is highly anticipated: the artist performs Juliusz Zarębski's "Piano Quintet", which she first performed this year at her own festival in Lugano. That evening, the National Philharmonic is set to host four competition winners: Bartłomiej Nizioł and Agata Szymczewska (Wieniawski competition), Lilya Zilberstein (Busoni competition) and Martha Argerich (Chopin competition).
By tradition, the festival is also set to host some of the finest orchestras and choirs: the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Russian National Orchestra and Sinfonia Varsovia, Collegium Vocale Gent and the Accademia Chigiana Siena, as well as the Camerata Silesia. Among those conducting is Philippe Herreweghe, Vladimir Jurowski, Mikhail Pletnev, Jacek Kaspszyk, Augustin Dumay and Howard Shelley (with the latter two also performing simultaneously as soloists).
Once again it is possible to hear the popular sixteen-year-old pianist Jan Lisiecki, whose international success began with an appearance at the "Chopin and his Europe" festival. His CD recording of both of Chopin's piano concertos has been met with great critical acclaim, resulting in, amongst other things, a recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon.
This year's debuting artists include Khatia Buniatishvili and Michał Szymanowski. A recital by singer Dorothee Mields is shaping up to be a uniquely attractive prospect: together with pianist Nelson Goerner, the duo is promoting their CD as part of "The Real Chopin" series.
2011 is the anniversary year of Liszt, Paderewski and Mahler. Its also the year in which Poland took over the presidency of the European Union from Hungary. One of this year's governing themes, therefore is the relationship between two of the Romantic era's greatest composers: the festival's eponymous patron and the Hungarian Franz Liszt (one year his junior), who were linked through friendship, although in terms of compositional style they found themselves at polar opposites. Liszt himself embodied an internal conflict of extreme opposites: his music exhibits a glittering virtuosic style, but it is also filled with a sense of metaphysical contemplation as well as religious exaltation.
Historical and period performance traditionally also occupies an important place in the festival's events. This year, pianists have four historical fortepianos at their disposition (compared to the three in previous years), thanks to the addition of a unique 1838 Erard piano to the collection of the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute. For the first time in Poland, the music of Brahms, Liszt and Zygmunt Noskowski can be heard on the instruments it was originally composed for.
The festival's closing ceremony is of particular significance, being as it is a show of solidarity between Poland and Japan: a performance of Liszt's "Via Crucis" takes place on the 1st of September, with Janusz Olejniczak playing alongside the choir of the Camerata Silesia, together with two works by Toru Takemitsu, performed by Akane Sakai and Jakub Waszczeniuk.
The Seventh International Music Festival "Chopin and his Europe" takes place in Warsaw between the 16th of August to the 1st of September 2011. A detailed programme of events and further information can be found at pl.chopin.nifc.pl.