The month-long Chopin Festival that brightened November in Washington ended quietly Monday evening at La Maison Francaise. After some of the finest performers from Poland and elsewhere made deep explorations of his piano solo works and concertos, after lectures on his life and music, a look at his correspondence with George Sand and jazz treatments using thematic material from his works, the final concert focused on three American players performing some of his less familiar music and a tribute by one of Poland's most promising young composers.
The program opened with the "Trio a la Chopin" by Mikolaj Gorecki, son of one of the world's most famous living composers, Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki. He studied with his father but has clearly developed his own distinct musical personality. His trio, using melodies and harmonies similar to Chopin's and forms as succinct as Chopin's, was a delight, deeply imbued with romanticism and highly suitable for a Chopin festival. It was played by violinist Janice Martin, winner of the Washington International Competition and a chamber musician of consummate elegance, with the mother-and-son team of National Symphony Orchestra cellist Steven Honigberg and pianist Carol Honigberg familiar to Washington audiences.
The two Chopin pieces on the program, both in G minor, dated from early and late in his career: the Piano Trio, Op. 8, and the Sonata for Piano and Cello, Op. 65. Unlike Chopin's scherzos, preludes, sonatas and concertos, these are not essentially virtuoso pieces, though there are virtuoso moments in them. They received idiomatic performances.