Lady of Hearts

Is Anna Lipiak one of the best piano interpreters of the Romantic music?

This Saturday evening could be described as "successful". After a sunny, warm day, visitors poured out of their cars, signposted GR or DZG, in front of the majestic building of Miejski Dom Kultury. The organizers sent out a newsletter to loyal friends of culture on both sides of the Neisse-river with an invitation to the piano concert by Anna Lipiak, a young pianist from Zgorzelec who is currently aiming for a world career. The very good-looking young woman adorned the poster of the concert, which ran under the title "Eternal Love". "The Mayor of Zgorzelec and the House of Culture (Dom Kultury) invite you to the Valentine's Day Concert". The poster also showed the program of the concert: Chopin, Robert and Clara Schumann, so pure romance for Valentine's Day. A pianist in her homeland, the mayor personally invites you, free entry and a sunny day! perfect conditions for a wonderful evening of music.

In addition, there is the background of a months-long pandemic that has completely paralyzed social and cultural life on the German side of the Neisse-river. The few events still run over 3G, 2G or 2G+, complicating, divisive and frightening the audience in a concert that was supposed to offer an escape from the sadness of everyday life. No wonder so many citizens from Görlitz streamed Dom Kultury. There was gratitude, a long-awaited joy on their faces. You recognized people you hadn't seen in a long time: friends who had disappeared from sight for 5 years. Joy, cordiality, long forgotten human feelings, you could experience all that again. It's so incredibly important to go to a concert! It is so infinitely important for human health and well-being to be able to attend such events. Culture is life, is health!

Therefore my thanks to the mayor of the city and to the organizers in the Dom Kultury are very big! But the biggest thanks go to the artist, who after two years of lockdown and break comes on stage fresh, smiling, full of vigor and energy.

The small stage in the venue was simply lit with the green color of hope. In the middle of the stage, the Kawai grand piano with the beautiful, brilliant timbre is ready. The last stragglers still come in, the hall is full (with a small distance between the chairs, there were about 150 guests in the hall). It is 5:01 p.m. and Beata Zygmuntowicz opens the evening with a few beautiful, intense sentences. She tells how everyone in town loves this girl, how warm-hearted she is. Teachers from the music school in the town where she trained are sitting behind me: They tell how the enthusiastic girl used to play the piano all day long, and in the evenings, when everyone went home but piano music was still playing at school, you knew: That was Anna.

Exactly this Anna, who now appeared on the green stage with her red dress. Indeed cordial, youthful, smiling, with elegance and movements that betray a deep respect for her audience, her instrument and music. She bows with the humble dignity of a star and picks up the microphone. The habit of moderating classical music concerts is a beautiful tradition in Poland, and perhaps one of the reasons why these concerts are so well attended there: in the audience you see a wide range of people, young and old, rockers sit next to us , before us simple folk women. People who don't know who Schumann is, who Clara Schumann-Wieck is, who have certainly never heard her sonata, never the Fantasia in C major. Anna tells the story behind each piece, embellishing the narrative with biographical information from the life and personality of the composers, but also with her own story of rehearsing this music. The difficult passages, the secrets behind the melodies. It certainly makes everything more interesting and draws us all into the journey, preparing our ears and awakening our hearts. The "Lady in Red" is simply gorgeous even before she sits on the instrument. But then she sits down and starts to play.

The choice of pieces is really well thought out. At the beginning you immediately recognize a well-known melody. It is the famous "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from Gluck's "Orfeo", in a piano transcription by Giovanni Sgambati. It was just brilliant to start the concert about "Eternal Love" with Orfeo. Some of us who got the meaning, already have tears in our eyes. Good start!

As the next piece, the pianist chooses a Nocturne by Chopin. She explains why she made this choice. Two voices duel in the Nocturne Op.55 No.2 and tell of the suffering of an unfulfilled love in the life of the great Polish composer.

Anna Lipiak plays the Nocturne with elegance and lyricism, immersed in the melody, unhurriedly conveying the melancholy but also the hope of love. That is a Chopin understander like few!

But what follows after the nocturne was definitely the highlight of the evening. The Fantasy in C Major by Robert Schumann. Anna Lipiak lovingly prepares the audience for this piece. She tells of the difficult love story between Robert and Clara Schumann, which had such a strong influence on the work of the two composers. We understand that this work is very special to her. She even dares to separate the three parts and tell a little more before each part. About the emotions of the first part, the form of a triumphant march of the second part and then the mysterious, unexpected dream world of the third part. She leads us into the soul of the composer she loves. She even admits it: she understands very well the rupture between joy and sorrow in Schumann's music, a spiritual dimension that led to his schizophrenia.

This is how the first part sounded „Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen; Im Legenden-Ton“ dreamy, brilliant and enchanting. Many of us have grasped the hand of our friend and contemplated the importance of love in our otherwise difficult lives. But Anna plays the second part „Mäßig. Durchaus energisch“ differently. With a power, heroism and determination that the banal listener would otherwise only expect from a male musician, the pianist interprets like a rare connoisseur of the Schumann soul. The bravura piece comprises a passage of 32 bars, which is among the most difficult in the piano literature. She prepared the audience perfectly for it. The applause was all the more enthusiastic when the pianist completed the difficult piece brilliantly, with passion and sovereignty. But then comes the third part of the fantasy: a reverie in which Anna expresses the romantic's feminine side as perfectly as she did the masculine side of the previous piece. The beautiful fantasy ends in long, longing colors, quietly. The dreaming audience waits a few seconds before applauding gratefully and touched.

But the pianist injured her finger while playing passionately. So she has to announce a five-minute break to put a band-aid on the finger. The right time for the grateful audience to exchange impressions with friends. The Valentine's Day concert brought many hearts closer, you can feel it in the air.

Anna Lipiak returns and plays the last piece of the evening, the Sonata in G minor by Clara Schumann-Wieck. The pianist played this piece in a concert in Leipzig for the composer's 200th birthday in 2019. She was lucky enough to even meet the descendants of the Schumann family on this occasion, she says.

Like that of many other female composers, Clara Schumann's music is little known. Wrongly so: the merit of this important woman, who adorned the former 100-mark note for a reason, is enormous! She is a wonderful composer and it is high time to discover her and include her in the concert programs. It's great that the Polish pianist is including works by Clara Schumann in her repertoire. The four parts of the sonata are full of virtuosity, but also romance, beautiful melodies and harmonic richness. Anna played and I thought about the similarities between the pianist and Schumann interpreter Clara and today's Anna, who is also married to a pianist and her piano couch and also plays many concerts with him.

What I mean to say is that the piano is the instrument of the Romantic era like no other. And Anna Lipiak is as if she came from that time, the time when virtuoso women and men traveled the world and delighted the audience with virtuosity and melodies. Without a doubt, Anna is one of the most apt interpreters of romantic music one could wish for. And she brings this Schumann or Chopin scores not only on journeys through the world, but also through the digital world. With a generosity and openness to all people, she shares her love of the piano with millions of people through her social media through videos on Facebook and Instagram.

A lady of the hearts.

Brava Anna and thank you from the bottom of our heart for this concert: a balm in times of a sad pandemic.

Anna Lipiak "Eternal Love" (Wieczna Miłość): Recital in Miejski Dom Kultury in Zgorzelec on February 12, 2022 at 5 p.m.

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