CD: Solo Piano Tales
Artist: Piotr Komorowski

Solo Piano TalesTo say that Polish pianist and conductor Piotr Komorowski has had a distinguished professional career would certainly be an understatement. Not content to rest on his laurels, however, he is constantly exploring and pursuing new creative frontiers. Having the good fortune to be born into a musical family, Piotr’s artistic abilities were nurtured and he gave his first public piano performance at the age of 13. His educational background is extensive and includes studying piano and conducting at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw from 1981 to 1988, where he earned diplomas with distinction in both these fields. As he describes: “I was given the opportunity to be taught by excellent teachers-performers and prominent figures in the music scene in Poland… it is a great piece of luck…”


Piotr continued his training in various European countries, and the US, leading to a Master of Music degree Piotr_Komorowskifrom the University of Miami. For ten years, beginning in 1989, he became well known as the conductor of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, as well as a guest conductor of numerous orchestral concerts in Poland and abroad. Piotr went on to expand his international presence and he visited Japan three times between 2003 and 2007, where he was the conductor of an orchestra and master of ceremonies in the biggest concert halls of the country. During that period, Piotr’s interests began to encompass the world of film composing, which has been a primary focus and passion for him over the past ten years, and his music has appeared in numerous TV and film projects.


One thing I found of particular interest about Piotr’s background as it relates to his new album is the contrast between his formal education in classical music and his interest in improvisation. In his words: “I spent many years performing as a classical pianist (or conductor). On the other hand I have been improvising whole my life for myself but never thought of it as of a direction to go. Until now.” His recent release, Solo Piano Tales, is comprised of 16 improvisations, which he recorded spontaneously in his studio. In discussing his inspiration, Piotr shares: “Being a composer of illustrative music I experience the enormity of possibilities, which the modern technology makes available to the artist as he or she is engaged in creative work. The same goes for the common-day life filled with continuous impetus of new opportunities, events, and places. This cornucopia of experience engenders longing for intermission, simplicity, silence, and reflection upon what surrounds us. I present you some recordings: improvisations, which mirror my personal reflection, which are a comeback to simplicity and freedom that accompany the artist-instrument relation. A relation which initiated my musical affair.”


piano keysSo, given Piotr’s deep roots in classical music, I was very curious to hear what his original compositions would sound like. “Winds upon My Village,” which opens the album, to my ear, was less classically-oriented, and more kindred in spirit to the new age music genre, and something you might hear from George Winston or Liz Story. The composition is spacious and uncluttered, yet full of emotional content, making for a wonderful start to the recording. The same could be said of the next track, entitled “Friendship For Sale.” I found that it also struck an emotional chord within me, which I might not go so far as to call melancholy, but there is an air of longing about it. By the time I got to track 4, “A Day in Tatra Mountains,” I was beginning to get more of a sense of Piotr’s style which, while delightfully simple melodically, is able to convey a surprising depth of emotional complexity. I particularly liked a piece called “Birds of Wood,” for its intriguing and evocative chord progression. I also enjoyed the peaceful ruminative ambience of “Second Thoughts.” Two seasonally themed pieces, “Winter’s Tale” and “First Snow,” which brings the album to a conclusion, evoked for me the serene and sometimes stark beauty of this time of year.


One of the things that stood out to me about Piotr’s compositions and playing is the continuity that flows from one track to the next, that expresses a wistful, far away feeling reflected throughout. While there is melodic variety in his compositions, this particular mood seems to permeate the album. Unlike some recordings where the artist is trying to exhibit their range by playing in a number of styles and tempo’s, that jump from one song to the next, Piotr’s music sets an emotional tone that characterizes the recording as a whole. For listeners who like to put on an album that creates a certain space, Solo Piano Tales will be much to their liking. Its always interesting to hear the original compositions of artists who have spent a lot of time interpreting the work of other composers, in this case, the classical masters. Piotr’s music was not what quite I expected, given his background, but that is a good thing, and I was taken by his peaceful contemplative style that at times, reminded me of the musical equivalent of an Impressionist painting. While Piotr Komorowski has achieved so much in his career, it is nice to see that there are still creative paths for him yet to explore, as he does so beautifully on Solo Piano Tales.