The Polish centenary was celebrated literarily around the world. There were many celebrations commemorating the events leading up to 1918 when Poland finally regained its independence after such a long time of captivity. Many artists, politicians and ordinary people expressed their admiration for our perseverance to reestablish the state of Poland on the political map of Europe. One of the most touching metaphors used with reference to Poland's fight for independence was that it was like a journey back home, which in Poland's case lasted 123 long, perhaps for some never-ending years. And so, the program performed at this concert was such a journey, a sentimental one, I believe, a journey throughout the whole nineteenth century, with different shades of our struggle for freedom - those representing our national pride, as expressed in Chopin's Polonaise No 1 in C sharp minor op. 26, our hope and joy as expressed in Chopin's Mazurkas, our confidence that restless nights will finally be followed with a long awaited daylight, as expressed in Chopin's Nocturnes, and our determination to shake off the shackles of tyranny, as expressed in the revolutionary Etude . That was part one of the journey.
Part 2 began with the raindrop prelude, a harbinger of the forthcoming events that our nation had for so long been waiting for: Szymanowksi's Etude No. 3 in B flat minor, composed at the very beginning of the twentieth century, a composition that has a beautiful, lyrical and melancholic melody and an escalating, tense dynamic, then his Mazurkas, somewhat liberal in form, which certainly took the audience to the next, higher level of happiness and joyful abstaction. And then List's Etude No 3 in D Flat major, also known as a sigh, a composition so dramatic, almost Impressionistic, radically changing in dynamics at times, that it has been considered by many pianists as one of the most challenging and most beautiful piano pieces ever composed. The journey back home concluded with Nocturne No 4 in B flat major op. 16 by I. J. Paderewski, Poland's famous pianist and composer, but also Poland's first prime minister after 1918. To me, the strikingly peaceful character of the composition reflects the bliss of freedom and national relief we felt after Poland could finally enjoy its hard-fought independence in 1918. Too bad we were about to lose it just 20 years later.
Marcin Jaroszek, theAboutProject Foundation