- Koffler Piano Concerto
Issue 42:1 (Sept/Oct 2018)
By Jim Svejda
" All the performances—especially those of the orchestral works—communicate a fierce inner conviction and sense of discovery and are not only mandatory listening for anyone with a serious interest in early 20th-century music, but should also provide a catalyst for further exploration of this tragic, undeniably important figure.
- Classical Review
The Sunday Times
By Geoff Brown
" Consider the extraordinary Piano Concerto of 1932. The dashing pianist, Daniel Wnukowski, launches upon a jaunty atonal string of notes, only to swerve into virtuosic pomposities recalling an earlier age. Mystical impressionism meets Viennese modernism in the slow movement’s night music, while the last bears the stamp of a syncopated Polish dance, the krakowiak. Ukrainian Sketches, a wartime string quartet, offers folksy simplicity, but with an enigmatic twist. Symphony No 2 rattles along, tartly neoclassical. In all of these Koffler is the explosive master of the stylistic mix and match.
And the performances do him proud. Wnukowski aside, there’s the lustrous voice of American mezzo-soprano Fredrika Brillembourg, features in two song cycles, while the conductor Christoph Slowinski and the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra clearly relish Koffler’s fast-changing tone colours and quick-footed wit. The 51st recording of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” can wait for another day.
- En Hommage
By Stefan Drees
" After an energetic beginning, an electrifying music unfolds, enabled precisely by the rhythmic finesse of pianist Daniel Wnukowski. Also in the finale, the interpretation convinces through sheer elegance and an underlying emphasis on irony.
Das vielleicht überzeugendste Argument hierfür ist das außerordentliche Klavierkonzert op. 13 (1932). Nach energetischem solistischen Beginn entfaltet sich eine elektrisierende Musik, deren rhythmische Finessen der Pianist Daniel Wnukowski mit präzisem Vortrag adelt. Auch im Finale, das mit klar konturierten Linienführungen aufwartet, überzeugt die Interpretation durch Eleganz und Hervorkehrung unterschwelliger Ironie. Herz des Stücks ist jedoch das atmosphärische, vom Solisten stellenweise fast rhapsodisch frei angestimmte Notturno, das von zarten Streichertexturen voller Leuchtkraft und flirrenden Tonhöhenwechsel durchzogen ist.
- Major Chords
By Robin Roger
" I’ve been a fan of Wnukowski’s since I heard him perform at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. I was particularly impressed by his commitment to reviving works of exiled Jewish composers of the 20th-century including Wladyslaw Szpilman, Alfred Schnittke, Josef Koffler and others.
- Erinnerungen an damals…
By Remy Franck
" The varied program of solo pieces for piano, songs and chamber music is performed with commitment and sensitive inspiration.
Neben Werken für Klavier solo (Monotypes, Mementos) finden sich auf dieser Doppel-CD des polnisch-kanadischen Pianisten Daniel Wnukowski auch Werke für Klavier und Violine und weitere Lieder. Für Erstaunen sorgt der Titel des dreiteiligen Werk ‘Arbeit macht frei’ für Klavier und Metronom, das 1995 nach einem Besuch des ehemaligen Vernichtungslagers Auschwitz entstand.
Dies ist also ein abwechslungsreiches Programm mit durchaus gefälliger Musik, das sehr sensibel und mit spürbarer Liebe zu der Musik Arlens auf hohem Niveau dargeboten wird.
- The Revival of a Great Work
The New Listener
By Oliver Fraenzke
" …With virtuoso brilliance, Daniel Wnukowski captivates as a soloist in the piano concerto. This particularly comes through in the third movement, which sounds joyfully light but maintains a spirit of underlying solemnity…
Das Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra unter Christoph Slowinski hebt die Kontrapunktik deutlich und verständlich hervor und lässt, wenngleich teils gehetzt wirkend, viel von der musikalischen Struktur durchscheinen, geht gefühlvoll auf die Thematik ein und all dies mit eine adäquaten Dichte von Klang und Ausdruck. Mit virtuoser Sicherheit und Glanz fesselt Daniel Wnukowski als Solist im Klavierkonzert, sichtlich Spaß hat er vor allem im dritten Satz, der freudig leicht und doch mit unterschwelligem Ernst erklingt. Wohl artikuliert, mit wuchtiger Kraft begleitet Slowinski die opernhaft schmetternde Frederika Brillembourg in den Liedern op. 1 und 27. Lyrisch durchzogen und von zarter Sehnsucht erfüllt betören die Ukrainischen Skizzen in der musikalisch ausgewogenen Darbietung des Polish String Quartet Berlin. Ausgezeichnet auch der vorbildlich informierende Booklettext."
- Financial Times Review
December 5, 2014
By Richard Fairbarn
" Pianist Daniel Wnukowski plays a selection of pieces that provide an idea of what was lost in prewar Vienna. The “last blue” was the late-night tram in prewar Vienna. It is a memory steeped in sadness for Walter Arlen, who lost family, livelihood, and a likely future as a composer as a teenage exile from the Nazis. Now 94, he is hearing much of his music for the first time and this two-disc selection of small-scale pieces provides an idea of what was lost. Here are intimate piano solos, nostalgic songs and bittersweet violin music. Daniel Wnukowski is the devoted pianist, well supported by violinist Daniel Hope, and singers Rebecca Nelsen and Christian Immler."
- The Career Challenge: Problems Facing Today’s Pianists
By Peter Jutras
" The talented and aspiring young Canadian pianist of Polish origin, Daniel Wnukowski (pictured on page 24), noted, “If someone had told me at an early age what the music business entails, I would have moved to Tibet and become a monk. But it’s too late now! Today, many extremely talented pianists are rejected at the doors of agents and artistic directors. Those that don’t become their own managers, at least in the beginning of their careers, are completely left out in the cold.”
Have higher technical standards made it more difficult to get noticed?
Yes. Here’s what Daniel Wnukowski had to say on that subject: “Today, young musicians are faced with the daunting task of performing the piano with pristine, technical perfection, often at the cost of compromising musicality. I was astonished to read some of the reviews that many of my colleagues had received after their recitals in which critics based their reviews on the amount of wrong notes they had heard! However, I feel that we have so much creative energy and power among young pianists today who are ready to overcome such mediocrity and musical torpor. Today, more than ever, musicians have at their disposition incredible tools that can effectively convey their message to an eager audience such as the use of online blogging or the creation of ravishing, new program ideas.” "
- Pianist Approves Predecessor’s Choice – Plays All Five Beethoven Concerti
February 7, 2012
San Diego Jewish World
By E. Wingard
" On Tuesday evening, the sublime music box theme in the Emperor Concerto’s first movement was delicately accompanied to allow the soloist to evoke its magic. The pianist performed with power and security. His rippling runs contrasted with tender passages and massive chords to convey Beethoven’s creative spirit. "
- The Art of Daniel Wnukowski
February 5, 2011
West East Toronto Newspaper
By H. Klukach
" I was immediately drawn into the magnificence of this performers mastery of his instrument. Technically he was flawless, but it was the love and passion in his playing that captivated. Moving into Szymanowski’s Masks,Op.34, Wnukowski again showed his technical mastery and versatility of music that was bolder and less lyrical. "
- Wnukowski Painted an Evocative Sound Fresco
November 8, 2010
Teatroteatro.it – Ancona, Italy
By G.P. Grattarola
" Having already launched several major Chopin festivals around the world, Wnukowski arrived in the Doric capital to take his large audience on a fascinating journey into the repertoire of the great Polish composer.[…] His piano playing manages to bring to light the infinite riches hidden in the score while leaving the aesthetic content unchanged, maintaining the spirit and mood of the compositions he is performing.
As the harmonic textures evolved, priceless moments of intense lyricism dazzled the audience with a naturalness for breathing, clean sound, and utter magic. Timeless moments, or rather, moments where time seemed to stop in stunned contemplation were an integral part of this unforgettable romantic evening. " (Original Language: Italian)
" Anche quest’anno la stagione concertistica allestita dagli Amici della Musica di Ancona G. Michelli ha un cartellone di rilievo e vanta ospitalità di lusso. E ne ha fornito un primo assaggio fin dalle battute iniziali, portando sul palco del Teatro delle Muse un giovane ma autorevole esponente del pianismo internazionale. Daniel Wnukowski, classe 1981, ha già al suo attivo un pregevole curriculum di interpretazioni eseguite nelle più prestigiose sale europee e americane.
Dopo aver inaugurato diversi importanti festival Chopin in tutto il mondo, giunge nel capoluogo dorico per condurre il numeroso pubblico presente in un suggestivo viaggio nel repertorio del grande musicista polacco. E la platea non può fare a meno d’inebriarsi, dinanzi all’intenso spessore evocativo e alla mirabile pulizia del suono. Il suo è un pianismo che, pur lasciando immutati i contenuti estetici, riesce a portare in luce le infinite ricchezze celate nelle partiture, lo spirito e gli umori delle composizioni eseguite.
Impeccabilmente assecondato dall’accompagnamento dell’Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana – interprete tra l’altro del gradevole poemetto musicale Pelléas et Mélisande di Gabriel Fauré – Daniel Wnukowski si è immerso dapprima nel Concerto n.1 in Mi minore Op. 11, quindi ne l’Andante Spianato e Grande Polacca brillante in Mi bemolle maggiore Op. 22 entrambe di Chopin. Il suo avvolgente estro creativo ha disegnando un affresco di altissimo valore musicale ed emotivo, dove le tonalità vengono disposte con cura in tutta la loro malinconica, tragica potenza.
A mano a mano che la tessitura armonica si espandeva, impagabili momenti di intenso lirismo si sono aperti continuamente come specchi d’acqua limpida, abbacinando il pubblico per la naturalezza del respiro, la pulizia del suono, la sonorità sospesa e magica. Momenti senza tempo, o meglio momenti in cui il tempo è parso arrestarsi nella contemplazione stupefatta di un’indimenticabile serata romantica. Applausi convinti e prolungati anche per Romolo Gessi, che ha sfoggiato una bacchetta disinvolta negli empiti più accesi e morbida nelle atmosfere di più riposata bellezza."
- With Heart in Hand
August 13, 2010
Warsaw – Mundoclasico “Critical” Poland
By B. Maruxa
" Wnukowski did a great piano accompaniment…he did some precious things like bringing out the ‘love and life’ of women in the fifth lied [of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben Song Cycle], by bringing out the wedding march passage and in the final song, ‘Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan’, where he helped Kurzak much to leave us with a desolate soul. " (Original Language: Spanish)
"Wnukowski hizo un gran acompañamiento…Hizo algunas cosas preciosas, como en Amor y vida de mujer, en el quinto lied, el paso de la escena con las amigas a la marcha nupcial, y sobre todo el lied final, ‘Ahora me has causado el primer dolor’, donde contribuyó tanto como Kurzak a dejarnos con el alma desolada."
- Extraordinary Chopin
June 21, 2010
Spoleto – Cultura e Spettacoli
By F. Calvani
" Daniel Wnukowski was the undisputed star of the evening…a Chopin live and refined, elegant with impeccable virtuosity, blending in a faithful interpretation lavishly praised by its narrator. " (Original Language: Italian)
"Un San Simone gremito assiste, attonito, ad una memorabile esecuzione del repertorio chopeniano. Daniel Wnukowski è il protagonista indiscusso di questa serata temporalmente instabile ma “passivamente” ricettiva di un talentuoso estro esecutivo, vivacemente sintetizzato da questo
straordinario pianista canadese. Uno Chopin vivo e raffinato, virtuosisticamente elegante ed ineccepibile, si amalgama in una fedele aneddotistica chopeniana riccamente declamata da una voce recitante. Si ha ragione di credere che questo omaggio a l’artista polacco semplifichi e valorizzi quella voluminosa letteratura ad oggi baricentro culturale di un mondo chopeniano ancora in cerca di verità definite. Si ripete nuovamente l’abile direzione artistica di un Festival che si attendeva con ansia. "
- In Tokyo, A Monument to Frederic Chopin
May 22, 2010
Polish Radio Information Agency
"[Daniel Wnukowski] admitted that he grew up in a home which continuously played traditional Polish songs and dances including the mazurka, kujawiak and oberek which greatly helped him in understanding the music of Chopin.
This concert which commemorated the unveiling of Frederick Chopin’s monument was enthusiastically received by a packed concert hall."
- Wnukowski’s Return a Poignant Celebration
by Ted Shaw – May 4, 2010
His playing, as always, was elegant and free of wasteful gestures. Each note of the rapturous second movement, the Larghetto, had shape and expressiveness. The notes seemed to fall from the sky, like a gentle spring rain.
After the restless opening movement and the meditative second, the third opens in a playful mood. Its dance-like themes were inspired by Polish folk music, and the movement is dotted with a series of dialogues between the piano and various solo instruments.
- Chopin in Autumn Colors
by Adam Czopek – September 23, 2009
"Wnukowski performed the Chopin Concerto with great passion and with a thorough understanding of Chopin’s compositional language. This was coupled together with a beautiful sound and the appropriate use of dynamics."
- A Community of Musicians
by Sharon Heilbrunn – December 29, 2008
San Diego Union Tribune
"Amos makes it a priority to bring in guest performers from all over the world. Last month, Canadian piano soloist Daniel Wnukowski practiced with the orchestra for a November concert.
“He was so enthusiastic,” said Alpine resident Linda Wheeler, a cellist. “He knew exactly what he wanted from us. We learned a lot.”
- Pianists Galore This Season
by Pablo Gardin – September 19, 2008
Buenos Aires Herald
"He came into his own in the enormously variegated 24 Preludes op.28 by Chopin, where he displayed not only his affinity with the style…"
A Triumphant Finale
by Carlos Singer – September 10, 2008
Mundo Clásico (Classical World)
"It was gratifying to hear how Wnukowski kept the same tempo throughout the many variations, or the lightness and subtlety with which he performed the lengthy passages in the high registers of the keyboard, forming a successful and convincing interpretation.” (Referring to Beethoven’s Sonata, Op. 111)…"
- Uto Ughi per Roma” 2007 the ninth edition comes to an end, as always ‘sold out’
"International performers – such as Yuri Bashmet, Kirill Gerstein and Daniel Wnukowski – brought their performances to life with the wide ranging consensus of their public, critics and the press."
- An Evening with Pianist Daniel Wnukowski
by David Gregson – February 17, 2006
"[Wnukowski’s musicality] is evident in the sensitive, expressive phrasing of his Mozart and in the lyricism and emotional drama of his Schumann…"
- Person of the Year
February 1, 2001
The Polish Weekly
"Daniel was a favorite on our radio station and clearly deserved to be awarded the title Person of the Year…"
- Youth Gives WSO Spark
by Ted Shaw – December 4, 2000
The Windsor Star
"Windsor Symphony’s weekend concerts were the work of young men in the early stages of brilliant careers…"
- We Were Invited to a Rare Concert
by Jarosław Abramow-Newerly – January 15, 1999
"On Sunday December 16th, we witnessed a rare artistic event. It was rare because never has a hall been so packed with an audience to experience Polish music with performers of the highest caliber…"