2001 Interview after a Concert with the Windsor Symphony
Interviewer: Arleta Sziler
A.S.: You came all the way from Poland to Windsor – the town in which you were born, and now you’ve just performed at the "Cleary Auditorium" the largest concert hall in our 200 year old city. Maybe I’ll start with the question, what was it like to perform here?
D.W.: I felt very good, the piano was excellent – I should mention that the piano came all the way from Toronto. The Windsor Symphony’s piano was not in very good condition, although Baldwin’s are considered good pianos. Tonight’s YAMAHA sounded great and the public was wonderful as usual. In general – I’m very happy.
A.S.: So another serious concert for you here in Windsor has just ended. Can you tell us a bit about the pieces which you performed?
D.W.: I played Chopin’s 1st Piano Concerto, which I’ve been performing for well over one year and a half now. The biggest influence on my ideas about this piece comes from Piotr Paleczny, who also plays it well. (He performed this piece at the International Chopin Competition which he also won). As an encore, I performed the “Heroic” Polonaise in A flat Major, which is dear to the hearts of all Polish people. And finally I ended the recital with Chopin’s First Etude which is incredibly difficult, but also very beautiful, brilliant, virtuosic, and youthful, I believe the public loved it.
A.S.: I believe they really loved it. I also like how you told the public that this piece has been known to break fingers!You received a standing ovation, at least ¾ of the audience stood up and you had to perform two encores, how do you feel when you’re in a situation like that?
A.S.: I guess that’s proof you played well?
I always try my best.
A.S.: And now, please tell us a few words about what you thought of the Windsor Symphony and its conductor.
D.W.: The conductor was a young man from Montreal by the name of Alen Trudel. He quickly caught on to “the Chopin spirit” and successfully transferred this energy to the players in the orchestra.
A.S.: We have to admit that the orchestra indeed sounded incredible and together you formed a powerful team. I see that you were comfortable performing with them.
D.W.: Yes, that’s true. In general, Chopin is a very difficult composer to perform with an orchestra because there is so much “rubato” or “give and take of rhythm” in his music. But together the soloist and orchestra create beautiful music because the rhythm is flowing rather than rigorous.
A.S.: I know that Windsor Symphony Orchestra has 3 Polish musicians in it, do you know them?
D.W.: Yes, there are three. I have known them for quite some time now.
A.S.: The concert was 40 minutes in length, and you played everything from memory. Can you tell us your secrets?
D.W.: Well, actually the memorization process itself is rather easy, because simply practicing and hearing other pianists perform the same work causes me to get very emotionally involved with the piece rather than having to manually memorize it. Every famous pianist sometimes experiences memory slips, but the most important thing is to create an atmosphere for the public, which can at times be hypnotic. A few notes, which sometimes don’t work out, aren’t so important. It is more important to bring out the beautiful architecture of the piece and that one’s interpretation is not imitating someone else’s.
A.S.: The last time we interviewed you in Windsor, you were 15, and now you’re 19 years of age. Can you tell us what happened during those 3 years?
D.W.: I was living in Warsaw, Poland, taking an active part in the culture of the Chopin Academy in Warsaw partnering with Piotr Paleczny. I performed in many concerts, and most importantly won the International Chopin Piano Competition. Before this competition, all Polish pianists competed in a preliminary competition in February of 2000. As winner of this additional competition, I was given an additional scholarship and plenty of concerts all over Poland and many other European countries including Holland and Paris, France. These experiences were very educational. Then in the summer time I was able to enjoy a nice, long vacation. I was able to visit Poland – long and wide. The real emotions took place at the International Chopin Piano Competition where I met many renowned musicians of my age. Then I returned to Canada.
A.S.: Here in Canada we have followed your career as well as your winning of this competition, and your performances have reached international acclaim. We know that you are of Polish origin, so please tell us what you think of the public in Poland.
D.W.: First of all, the composer Chopin is like a ‘cult’ in Poland. The public has a great understanding of his music. Whenever the performer plays in public, often the audience understands the piece even better than the performer, and so it gives me tremendous pleasure to perform there.
A.S.: You got some rave reviews from the now deceased music critic Jerry Waldorf? Can you tell us more about that?
D.W.: Yes, that’s true. Three years ago I performed at the “Radziejowic” Palace close to Warsaw, and that’s where I met Jerry who said very kind words about me during and after the performance. I mainly played my compositions there and performed a few encores.
A.S.: I know you must be tired since you always give everything of yourself at each performance, but since you mentioned it – tell us a little bit more about your composing.
D.W.: Unfortunately, I had to temporarily leave composition in order to successfully prepare for piano competitions. But this is still something I love doing from the very bottom of my heart and will return to composing in the near future.
A.S.: Thank you so much for your beautiful performance as well as our interesting conversation. I wish you a lot of success and the fulfillment of all your dreams.
Towards the end of last year, the listeners of radio chose Daniel Wnukowski as person of the year for 2000.