Program Notes written by Kemal Gekic


Polonaise-fantasy is one of the most unusual works by Chopin. I found a place in his letters where he said, referring to it "  I wrote something....and I don't quite know how to call it...." I believe he improvised it in one of his creative outbursts at the piano, which was his habit, as he was a great improviser.
The reason why he was undecided about its name lies in the very nature of the piece- it is ambiguous, mysterious and has a bit of everything- a polonaise, a nocturne ,a fantasy and some more.

I chose it for the opening of this concert because it has an evocative quality ''' ...checking out the lungs of the instrument.." as Chopin used to say.


As their very name says, Etudes were originally conceived as exercises for a young virtuoso. Most of them were written while Chopin was in his early twenties.
However, there is a strong characterization in each piece as well as an innate poetic quality. Chopin did not imagine them to be performed as a set (he never played them in this way in concerts), yet this is precisely the way they were almost always performed and recorded in modern times. I wished to avoid this habit of playing them in order 1, 2, 3 etc. because the element of freshness and surprise is already worn out a little.

I selected a group and made my own sequence, connecting them in a new and personal way. It is almost like composing a new suite (of course, from previously supplied ingenious material).


Like so many Schumann pieces, this one also features a duet- two themes converse with each other, sometimes in agreement, sometimes in discord. It is easy to imagine a program to this peace, something like ".. untarnished bliss of love, shadow of doubt, suspicion, strange explanation, return of good times, two beings together for ever and ever.." or something similar. However, without any programs, the structure of the piece, as well as the polyphonic texture and choice of themes are sufficient in themselves to make it a success.


Funerailles by Liszt is usually (and rightfully so) associated with Hungarian revolution of 1849 ( crushed in blood, with many of the finest Hungarian artists, poets, writers, politicians and statesmen executed- most of them personal friends of Liszt). But there are finer undertones, impossible to prove ...for me, I can not resist the idea that this piece was written in memory of Chopin (who died in 1849), and who was a friend of Liszt too. Chopinesque melodies, a Trio resembling the Trio of Heroic Polonaise op.53 by Chopin and coincidence in the date of composition (October 1849) and Chopin's death (October 1849) suggest there are some hidden and multi-dimensional connotations to the piece.


Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit is one of the landmarks of the 20th century piano literature. Yet, almost always it is associated with technical accomplishment.

I would like to bring out a little discussed aspect of it, something that Ravel himself mentioned- 3 Poems by A.Bertrand, in a manner of Callot...that is to say, in a fantastic, grotesque, almost supernatural fashion. Ravel's score follows very precisely the text of the poems- seductive pleading of a water-fairy, a corpse hanging from gallows and scratching, twisting and twirling, flying, and a sardonic laughter of Scarbo, a spirit who is a dwarf-ghost-giant, all at once. It takes all the colors of pianists technical resources to bring this fantastic and imaginative score to its full potential.

                                  和訳責任:小川 恭士