"Nowy Dziennik" - Polish Daily Newspaper (New York)
Translation from the Polish by Jan Latus
There is no more peculiar piece of the piano repertoire than the Chopin Mazurkas. These rather technically uncomplicated but exceptionally melodic and sonorous miniatures remain uncomprehended by the most brilliant pianists. The Mazurkas are stylizations of Polish folk dances but their dancability is tempered by a uniquely Chopinesque melancholic allure. It is not possible to wallow in this dolor too much as you will loose the pulse of the dance. But one should also not fixate on the dance (although this has happened to Ignacy Friedman, for example) lest one forget about the more subtle valors of the stylization. In all recording history or on the long list of participants in the International Chopin Competitions one can find barely a few performers who feel this music instinctively. Instinctively, because an analytical approach leads nowhere in this case. The Mazurkas must be felt in the heart and, above all else, one must understand what happens between the notes in the accompaniment of the left hand. In these meaningful pauses, in this subtle differentiation of the length of the notes, and their skillful accentuation lies the pieces' dancability and artistic sense.
To the company of Ignacy Friedman, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, William Kapell and Barbara Hesse-Bukowska now can be added Marjan Kiepura. Born in America, the son of two famous singers: Jan Kiepura and Maria Eggerth, he certainly inherited their musical ability and vocal understanding of phrasing. Of course genes would account for nothing were Kiepura himself not a talented and Juilliard School of Music-trained pianist.
Whether a pianist feels the Mazurkas can be heard from the very first bar. Even the layman, who may be easy to fool with other repertoire immediately states "he likes the playing," that "it is nice." That, in other words, there is no falsehood in this playing. And it is precisely the naturalness of the playing that is Kiepura's greatest valor. He understands in an excellent (because instinctual) way the idiom of the mazurkas. The best example of this is the Mazurka in F Major. Op. 68, no. 3. Kiepura is a lyricist: he does not include virtuoso pieces on the recording; rather we find here Chopinesque melancholy of the most beautiful, and today so rarely heard, variety.
This pianist is not only endowed with good taste: he plays beautifully, with a refined sound and the skillful sound engineering of the famous David Frost only underscores this.
Note: This recording is available in the Nowy Dziennik Book Store.