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A tribute to Polish piano

Both the Piano.pl concert, held two years ago in Warsaw, and the album released to commemorate the occasion, were truly stunning. Now, Dorota Miśkiewicz, the main driving force behind the project, along with an impressive line-up of Polish jazz piano greats, are coming to Poznań.

photo: T.Nowak
Dorota Miśkiewicz, photo: T. Nowak

What did you intend to achieve with the Piano.pl project? "I wanted people to take note of how many outstanding pianists we have in Poland", says Dorota Miśkiewicz, whose idea brought together a dozen or so top, piano virtuosos at a single concert. Each of them was asked to perform one song with her. But, she hastens to add, "The point wasn't to compete but to make music together".

The vocalist invited members of three generations of pianists to appear at the Teatr Roma in Warsaw in May 2016. A part of her description of the venue reads like an aphorism, or motto: "The piano is a Polish speciality - among the many remarkable musicians this country has to offer, the pianists stand above the rest". That is why she gave the instrumentalists the freedom to make their own interpretations. Thus, it was the pianists that chose the arrangements for each piece. The outcome is "a number of unexpected arrangements that reveal a whole new face to more or less familiar songs, alongside others, which tend to be more straightforward and faithful to the originals".

This unorthodox approach was readily embraced by the music industry. It secured the artists victory in a survey by the Jazz Forum monthly, which is highly regarded in the musical community. Piano.pl won Album of the Year and Concert of the Year, ahead of many other remarkable artists. It also received two nominations (album and vocalist) for the Fryderyk Awards, and one for the Koryfeusz Muzyki Polskiej (Polish Music Coryphaeus) award.

The line-up of artists alone for the upcoming Poznań concert sounds like a hall of fame of Polish jazz (and not only jazz) piano from recent decades. As announced by the organisers, Dorota Miśkiewicz will share the Poznań stage with Stanisław Soyka, Włodzimierz Nahorny, Andrzej Jagodziński, Krzysztof Herdzin, Marcin Wasilewski, Piotr "Pianohooligan" Orzechowski, Dominik Wania, Bogdan Hołownia, Michał Tokaj, Lutosławski Piano Duo, Tomasz Kałwak, Henryk Miśkiewicz (the vocalist's father) and the Atom String Quartet. Anyone reading the list carefully will realise that not all of the artists are pianists. They include a renowned saxophonist and an esteemed string quartet. That said, piano and vocals are certain to take centre stage.  

What songs is Dorota Miśkiewicz going to sing? For a clue, look at her double album (CD and DVD) of two years ago, which is a mini songbook of ambitious Polish music. It features a piece from the repertoire of Kabaret Starszych Panów (Bądź mi tatą - Be my dad), lyrics by Agnieszka Osiecka set to music by Krzysztof Komeda (Nie jest źle - Things aren't bad), the unforgettable Sprzedaj mnie wiatrowi (Sell me to the wind) by the band Bemibek, Jej portret (Her portrait) originally performed by Bogusław Mec, Ostatni (The last one) by Edyta Bartosiewicz and Tak jak w kinie (Like in the movies) by Stanisław Soyka. All in all, the concert will feature over a dozen songs, ranging from big hits to less known pieces from the history of Polish music in amazing interpretations.

Tomasz Janas

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

Dorota Miśkiewicz, Piano.pl,

CONCERT HAS BEEN MOVED FROM 7 JANUARY TO 5 APRIL TO AULA ARTIS, admission: PLN 99-159

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2019