CHOPIN : NOX ET VOX
André Gide, a fine amateur pianist who played Chopin’s music and greatly admired the composer, wrote: “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no-one was listening, it all has to be said again”. It is an aphorism I would willingly make my own, since it gives a dual sense to our Sisyphean task in music. We return to the same repertoire time and again, in an exercise which is both useful and futile. But I would also give it a slight twist, since “saying everything again” is for me a return to the sources of Romantic music in which I have immersed myself during a journey back through time, taking in Scriabin and Rachmaninoff, then Schumann and Liszt.
For Chopin, the source is the voice, that of bel canto singing. The voice becomes melody, harmony enriches it and the piano combines the two, giving body to the voice and fleshing out the harmony. Chopin’s inspiration transfigures them.
From his nocturnal heart, Chopin extends an invitation to melodic and harmonic purity, stripped of gratuitous flourishes though not without ornamentation. In its refinement it recalls the highest culinary arts, where time has to be taken in order to relish all the mingled savours, all the polyphony, the counter-melodies, the modulations, the chromaticism, the dissonances, the resolutions; and, within the phrase, the subtle expression of complex feelings, occasionally euphoric, sometimes wrathful, often melancholy, but unburdened by the very fact of having been poured out to a listener whose confiding ear is capable of grasping their essence.
There is matter indeed in such a vast set of works spanning the entire lifetime of such a genius. For genius is indeed the word when each turn in his poetic road reveals a magical twilight landscape, as natural as improvisation yet as scrupulously made as Nature.
Among the young French artists recorded by Intrada, it is my utmost pleasure to often discover “newly born stars”: I can bear witness that for sure Emmanuelle Swiercz is one of them. When I listened to it, I easily perceived her outstanding musical quality as well as her clear-minded analysis of those pieces, her deeply poetical sensitiveness and her delicacy strengthened by a solid pianistic technique. We are extremely convinced by her selection, which confirms how much she masters and tastes the interpretation of Rachmaninov’s music. As from the very first “Etude”, Emmanuelle Swiercz displays her excellent sense of the rhythm, then she attracts us by her so fresh poetry and also her subtle playing. As the programme goes forwards we can feel such quality more and more keenly. It is indeed a wonderful marriage between the artist’s talent and the composer’s creation; furthermore it is one of the very few “first CDs” (distributed in Japan) to be so well structured.
“…Let’s not even talk about technique, which would embarrass some of the greatests pianists of the old school and which reminds us of Martha Argerich’s. But Schumann is a romantic élan which leads to madness and mystery. This is where Emmanuelle Swiercz’s interpretation drives us.
This enterprising young French label seems to have a knack for discovering singular talent. Now here is another exciting debutante, 28-year-old Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Swiercz (pronounced “shveerts”), who plunges fearlessly into central repertoire with interpretations that rival the finest available. Comparing Swiercz with Nikolai Lugansky in the Preludes and Etudes-Tableaux reveals that, like him, she knows no technical limitations but is uninterested in mere digital display. In fact, her control allows her to create an orchestral range of sonorities – listen to the way she layers the texture in op.33 no.8… Emmanuelle Swiercz reveals it to be a masterpiece of equal magnitude in a performance of awesome expressive range, passionate involvement and breathtaking beauty. The recordings are superb and Intrada’s presentation excellent, the cover photograph of Swiercz laughing joyously entirely appropriate to this felicitous release.
Emmanuelle Swiercz enchants us throughout this Schumann recital, from the very first note she captures the listener’s attention, and brings about a sense of dramatic urgency. In each piece she manifests charm and seduction, verve and delicacy. In brief, a perfect understanding. She approaches the piano with a subtlety which reminds us of Jean-Marc Luisada. Emmanuelle Swiercz follows the tradition of Schumann’s greatest interpreters. She parts from their noble classicisism by daring a penetrating slowness that is deeply moving.