I heard Lisiecki for the first time on Friday night (July 15), when the Brott Music Festival brought him to Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio to appear with Boris Brott’s National Academy Orchestra. Personally, I’d rather assess a new pianist in a solo recital than in an orchestral appearance. But the fact that he played two concertos on this program – Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 and Liszt’s Concerto No. 2 – made it possible to gain a broader perspective on this young artist.
That question was answered when he sat down once again for the Liszt. A rich drama unfolded, full of strength, with long climaxes to thundering climaxes; but also with moments of sweetness, repose – and chamber-like subtlety when he accompanied the solo cello. Here, Lisiecki’s playing was prodigious in the best sense of the word: mature beyond its years, with the portent of greater things to come.
An encore finally gave us a chance to hear a touch of solo playing. As a nod to his own Polish ancestry, he performed Chopin’s Waltz Op. 64. No. 2 with restrained elegance and a touch of mystery.
Remarkably, Lisiecki has vaulted over the piano-competition industry (for some major competitions he’s still too young even to enter), and has emerged at 16 with a full professional calendar that would be the envy of many concert-pianists twice his age or older (see here). It looks like the sky’s the limit for Jan Lisiecki.
© Colin Eatock 2011