Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition presents Marcin Kowak international pianist.

The sun shone as in high summer on the audience gathering at Fairlight Hall’s Recital Room to hear Polish-born and internationally acclaimed pianist Marcin Koziak.

Still in his mid-twenties Marcin has already attracted worldwide attention, with honours and degrees and a world-wide record of performances.

For his Fairlight audience, as usual including a considerable number of music professionals, Marcin opened with a work from the nineteenth century, Schumannn’s Kinderszenen. These are short pieces describing childish activities, literally ‘pieces for children’, including the familiar Traumerai.

Tchaikovsky’s Romance in F minor allowed Marcin to give full rein to his interpretive powers, whilst Chopin’s Scherzo in E major played with vIvacity and feeling made an conclusion to the first half.

If the first half of the programme concentrated on the traditional, the second half could not have been more different. Karel Szymanowski was a Ukrainian composer, born towards the end of the nineteenth century. The composer had an all-consuming respect for Chopin, making lifelong efforts to emulate him, including relocating to Poland. His rousing set of four Mazurkas, with which Marcin opened the second part of his programme, followed the mode of the songs and dance music of the people who made their home in the Tatra Mountains.

Marcin’s performance of The Old Granny Tales revealed composer Prokofiev in youthful vein. This was very different from the composer’s main output, Prokofiev was remarkably prolific, but he repeated the style in later works such as the Love for Three Oranges and Peter and the Wolf.

If the audience was awaiting something akin to Mozart’s or Mendelssohn’s style when the word sonata appeared on the programme, Bela Bartok’s 1926 Piano Sonata was in a very different vein. Written the following year to his Dance Suite which is frequently heard today in recorded music programmes, it was something entirely unique. The playing of it revealed Marcin in what one perceived was probably his personal preference.

It certainly gave the audience something to talk about on their homeward journey. What was the audience’s immediate reaction is impossible to gauge. Certainly the applause at its conclusion was genuine and long-lasting. In response to this, Marcin gave us one more demonstration of his amazing talent, a delightful pastiche of Chopin. We hope Marcin enjoyed his visit to Fairlight Hall. We the audience surely did. MARRION WELLS