Sensitivity, musical expressivity and immaculate, transparent technique: these qualities once called for by Frédéric Chopin are embodied in the highest degree by Aleksandra Mikulska. On this, teachers, critics and audiences are unanimous.
Aleksandra Mikulska is one of the leading representatives of today’s younger generation of exceptional pianists. Her playing has earned her numerous international accolades, including the special prize for best Polish female pianist at the XV International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.
To date, concert invitations have taken Aleksandra Mikulska to venues such as the Philharmonie in Essen, the Künstlerhaus in Munich and the National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw. In the 2016/17 season she is scheduled to make her debuts at the Zurich Tonhalle and the Vienna Musikverein. She appears regularly at international festivals including the MDR Musiksommer, the Liszt Festival Raiding, the Bodenseefestival on the shores of Lake Constance, the Brandenburg Summer Concerts, the Böblingen International Piano Festival, the Chopin Festival in Gaming, the Bayreuth Easter Festival, the Maulbronn Monastery Concerts, the Merano Music Festival in Italy and the Lapland Piano Festival. Aleksandra Mikulska also gives recitals throughout Europe and performs concertos with orchestras in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Poland and Switzerland.
Born in Warsaw in 1981, as a young pianist she attended a class for highly gifted children at the national “Karol Szymanowski” music school. In conjunction with a series of scholarships from the Polish state and numerous prizes in international competitions, this laid the foundations for the top-level international training that ensued. Aleksandra Mikulska went on to study with Peter Eicher at the University of Music in Karlsruhe. In tandem with her main studies, she drew valuable inspiration from Lev Natochenny, Andrzej Jasiński, Kevin Kenner, Diane Andersen and others at international masterclasses. After graduating with distinction, her path took her to the elite International Piano Academy “Incontri col maestro” in Imola, Italy. There, her most important influences were Lazar Berman and Michel Dalberto. Aleksandra Mikulska completed her studies by attending Arie Vardi’s masterclass at Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media, where she gave her exam recital in 2010.
Aleksandra Mikulska weaves a unique, personal and highly distinctive style from the musical traditions of the three countries Poland, Germany and Italy. A particular focus of her music-making is the dissemination of works by the great composers of her Polish homeland. Aleksandra Mikulska is President of the Chopin Society of Germany (Darmstadt) and Deputy Chair of the Baden-Württemberg branch of the German-Polish Society.
Her debut recording was released in 2010 and is dedicated to works by Frédéric Chopin. Since then she has recorded albums of works by Franz Liszt, Karol Szymanowski and Joseph Haydn. Her recordings have been acclaimed both by the public and in the specialist press.
... Aleksandra Mikulska präsentiert mit ihrer Version der h-Moll Sonate einen so glutvollen wie poetischen Chopin, schlägt dabei in den schnellen Sätzen Tempi an, zu denen es Mumm braucht. Dennoch wirkt bei ihr nichts überspielt oder verhetzt, hervorragender Technik sei Dank. Mit dem unangenehm zu spielenden Scherzo setzt sie ein Respekt erheischendes Ausrufezeichen, ihr Finalsatz strotzt von Vorwärtsdrang und ritterlichem Stolz. ..."
Franz Liszt war ein Superstar am Klavier. Er spielte seine Zuhörer in Ekstase. Frauen fielen reihenweise in Ohnmacht. Etwas von der Faszination seines Musizierens war am zweiten Abend des Böblinger Pianistenfestivals zu spüren, als sich Aleksandra Mikulska im zweiten Teil ihres Recitals ganz auf Liszt konzentrierte. (...)
Man hörte den Poeten und den Virtuosen, den Zauberer und den Hexenmeister, den feinsinnigen Ästheten und den effektbewussten Tastenlöwen. (...)
Erstaunlich, wie schimmernd unter ihren Händen die schwierige Konzertetüde „La Leggierezza" klingt, sie spult das nicht ab, begnügt sich nicht mit rasenden Läufen, sondern arbeitet immer neue Feinheiten heraus. Zwei Rhapsodien am Ende: die Ungarische Rhapsodie Nr. 11 und die „Rhapsodie espagnole". Sie operieren mit lyrischen Themen, die gewaltig aufgedonnert werden. Mikulska betonte auch hier das Vielgestaltige und spielte elegant mit Klangfarben. (...)
Mit dem letzten Akkord brach ein Beifallsorkan los. Als sich die Pianistin verbeugte, glänzte ihre Stirn. Trotzdem entsprach sie dem brausenden Applaus mit zwei Zugaben. ..."
Wohl kaum zuvor gab es im altehrwürdigen Blauen Salon im Wolfacher Rathaus solch einen Sturm der Begeisterung wie nach dem Klavierabend von Aleksandra Mikulska. Mit stehenden Ovationen feierten die rund 120 Zuhörer das Furioso dieser begnadeten polnischen Pianistin von internationalem Rang.
Jeder Anwesende hatte vom ersten Ton, den Mikulska aus ihrem Instrument hervorzauberte, an das Gefühl, an einem außergewöhnlichen Ereignis teilzuhaben, wie es sonst nur in den großen Konzertsälen Europas zu erleben ist. Die Pianistin begann den Abend mit drei Präludien von Karol Szymanowski, gefolgt von dessen Variationen op. 3. Schon hierbei zeigte sich sogleich Mikulskas überlegene, durchdachte Spielweise, die stets alle Stimmen mit ihren beiden Händen zu gleichberechtigten Partnern werden ließ. Jedem Ton gab sie die ihm zustehende Bedeutung, nichts wird mit dezenter Zurückhaltung vor den Ohren des Publikums verborgen. (...)
Selbst dem von zu vielen Pianisten über die Maßen sentimentalisierte "Liebestraum" von Franz Liszt vermochte sie mit ihrer überragenden Gestaltungskraft neues Leben einzuhauchen. (...)
Mit zwei grandiosen Zugaben verabschiedete sich die geniale Pianistin von ihrem entzückten Publikum."
Dass eine Solistin zwei Zugaben spielt, dürfte in der altehrwürdigen Tonhalle von Zürich die rare Ausnahme sein. Die Pianistin Aleksandra Mikulska erspielte sich die Sympathie des Publikums mit neuen interpretatorischen Ansätzen."
Ein Abend im noblen Hotel Imperial, der einem schlicht das Blut in den Adern gefrieren ließ. Denn der Besuch der polnisch-deutschen Ausnahmepianistin Aleksandra Mikulska sollte tatsächlich ein besonderes Erlebnis sein. (...)
Ganz große, explosive Pracht bot ebenso das cis-Moll op. 66, das weder ein alleiniger Einfall oder gar eine „einfache" Fantasie wurde. Es war und wirkte schlicht als das erhoffte Paradestück - und gewährte ebenso einen Einblick in die noble Klangvielfalt bei Frédéric Chopin.
Nun in Wien, machte sie ihrem Namen als große Interpretin des anderen komponierenden Klaviervirtuosen wieder alle Ehre. Hier war der ganze Virtuose Liszt mit seiner Konzertetüde „La Leggierezza" ebenso wie Rhapsodien von Ungarn bis Spanien zu erleben. Außerdem war er mit den von ihm so geliebten Polnischen Melodien „Glanes de Woronince" ebenso völkerverbindend vertreten. Etwa die in der Mitte stehenden „Melodies Polonaises": sie gelangen so unglaublich tiefsinnig, bereits weit über das virtuose Element hinausgehend. Ein wunderbarer Wiener Konzertabend dank der meisterhaften Aleksandra Mikulska."
... She gave the audience in the packed hall a charming presentation of the thoughts behind her programme of works by Chopin and Liszt. (...)
Setting about Chopin's mazurkas with an energetic touch, she leaves behind a soft trailing echo of the previously forceful sound. She bends low over the keys, seemingly pondering over the melody, as though the work were just in the process of being born. Her lips silently sing the tune. This is music being experienced.
With vigorous energy she interprets the Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor op. 66, the reflective moments appearing in a transfigured light. Fingers fly rapidly over the keys, the theme, profound and serious, overlaying the bright murmurings. The Scherzo in B flat minor, op. 31, begins mysteriously, before a radiant melody appears from somewhere to follow the gloomy, fateful strikes. Quietly searching moments contrast with the raging sounds of a thunderstorm, a whole ocean seeming to engulf the pianist. After the graceful Andante Spianato the Grande Polonaise Brillante in E flat major sparkles ravishingly. Irresistibly she draws one into it ever deeper, higher, faster. (...)
The seldom heard Hungarian Rhapsody No. 11 is rapturous. The sound of a bell pervades it, yet the dance enters vehemently, the pianist plunging into it like a Titaness. Even wilder and more boisterous is the Spanish Rhapsody, "an adventure for the pianist and the audience". Hands fly around as though under electric shock, furious raging and pounding dominate, while in the middle of it all there enters, as a huge contrast, an enchantingly graceful melody. One expresses a sigh of relief after all this high tension. ...
There are currently perhaps only a few experts who have immersed themselves as deeply as the young pianist Aleksandra Mikulska in the works as well as the personality structures of Chopin and Liszt. (...)
The pianist is considered a profound connoisseur of the two composers Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt. Many international and national awards border the path of this artist who was born in Warsaw in 1981. She has set herself the task not only of interpreting the works of both composers, but also, as in a biography, revealing the essence of the personalities of Chopin and Liszt and depicting them in sounds.
On this evening she was stunningly successful. Chopin, the imaginative, sparkling, witty and sophisticated Pole, literally rose up again in his whole profile. In the "mazurkas" Mikulska succeeded in making the character and the elegance of this Slavic 19th century folk dance audible and visible. (...)
With the interpretation of the "Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, op.66" Mikulska delved deep into the partial contrariness of Chopin's biography, revealing the breaches and inner turmoil, the highs and lows.
The "Scherzo in B flat minor, op. 31" is one of Chopin's most important works. It starts off with pace, passion and virtuosity, providing numerous pianistic challenges which Mikulska mastered with extreme expressive shaping and dramatic contrasts which were at times menacingly eerie, at others furious with fortissimo chords. (...)
Not only did her excellent technical skill impress but also the expressive power that she drew from the keys, by means of which she fulfilled the intentions of the composers without abandoning her own creative power.
There were standing ovations for the artist and as an encore "Opus 25, No. 11" by Chopin.
The young Polish pianist was scintillating in the truest sense of the word in her performance of great works by Chopin and Liszt. Already in the three opening mazurkas by Chopin (in D flat major, B flat minor, C sharp minor) the pianist revealed why she has received many awards for her Chopin interpretations: Mikulska takes a moment to reflect, then plays the melodies of the mazurkas in a clear, almost sober fashion. While allowing herself agogic freedom, she never takes liberties with the pedalling. The rhetorical expression is direct and to a large extent readily understandable.
The "Fantasy Impromptu" also benefits from this, which she performs with technical brilliance, free of sentimentality. In the famous B flat minor Scherzo, op. 31, harsh, abrupt tones take over. It's about more than flawless pianistic technique here! It is thrilling! (...)
Indeed, the congenial pianist does justice to the "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 11" with grandeur and a wealth of expression, elegantly and artificially fanning out the folkloristic elements. The final, culminating virtuosity of the "Spanish Rhapsody", a pianistic "breaker" in piano literature, is terrifying. Liszt, in his treatment of the theme "La Follia", in keeping with the meaning of the word as "madness", employs pianistic acrobatics as well as breakneck compositional devices. Mikulska, despite all the crazy technical demands, retains the upper artistic hand, shapes both themes with smart charm, and makes more out of them than a grandiose salon piece. This artist stands above sheer pretence, convincing equally through her intensity and stamina, confidence and joy of performing.
The encore, Chopin's étude op. 25 No. 11, sweeps again through the concert hall: Physical and mental hard labour, mastered by the Pole to look uncannily like a matter of course. Maestros Chopin and Liszt would have been equally delighted.
... In the packed concert hall of the Vincentius House the pianist thrilled the audience and prompted it time and again to thunderous applause and standing ovations.
"What a pianist? It can't get any better", someone commented in the break. And this was the opinion shared unequivocally by the majority of the audience. Aleksandra Mikulska is regarded as one of the world's best Chopin interpreters and counts as one of the most distinguished representatives of the young generation of exceptional pianists. (...)
The concert opened with three mazurkas by Frédéric Chopin. The abrupt switch from piano to forte-fortissimo in the D flat major Mazurka op. 30 No. 3 was accomplished masterfully by Aleksandra Mikulska. The Mazurka in B flat minor, op. 24 Nr. 4 with its half-tone steps in both the lower and upper voices presented no difficulty for the pianist in full concentration. The coda of the Mazurka in C sharp minor, op. 63 Nr. 3, was a joy to be heard, when above all things the flexibility of the right hand came into play and made the piece sound like a two-part canon.
Chopin's Fantasy-Impromptu was given an excellent and accomplished rendering by Aleksandra Mikulska, who achieved an extremely tight and substantial musical structure with the rapid semiquavers. After the B flat minor Scherzo, which was kept rather subdued, there followed the Andante spianato et Grand Polonaise Brillante. The Andante rippled along calmly. All the more dynamic and exuberant was the finale. (...)
The climax of the second half of the concert was the Spanish Rhapsody. Aleksandra Mikulska put her whole heart into this. The furious runs, the calm passages in the bass or soprano had the audience out of its seats. Standing ovations and minute-long applause after the last note had sounded were the reward for an extraordinary evening of piano music ...
... From the first note of Chopin's Polonaise Op. 26, No. 1 (her playing) was so focused and compelling that you couldn't escape the spell of the music. And so it remained throughout the entire programme. (...) the irresistible persuasive power of Aleksandra Mikulska's playing. It was technically masterful and always transparent, emotionally differentiated and free of any kind of showmanship. The audience was concentrated to the point of hypnosis. The two halves of the programme (...) passed like a daydream. Upon waking, the applause would not end. ..."
... Mikulska's wonderfully smooth and sonorous performance of these very catchy pieces betrayed the finest sense of style. An even denser sound was achieved in the B flat minor variations op. 3, dedicated to his friend Artur Rubinstein, where the musician with complete and confident composure left nothing to be desired in the way of virtuoso colourfulness and internalized expression of emphasis. On hearing Szymanowski communicated with so much passion, one can only hope that she will also soon embark on the many bolder works of the middle and late creative period.
Aleksandra Mikulska has long made a name for herself as a Chopin interpreter and rightly so. The Heidelberg audience experienced a performance with wonderfully balanced agogics, a natural dance-like vitality and an unsophisticated lyrical- cantabile freshness.
Fiery eloquence in the Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor and in the B flat minor Scherzo, spirited unleashing in the "Grande Polonaise brillante" in E flat major, overwhelming abundance of nuances in the five-part selection of waltzes and mazurkas: This Chopin cross-section proved to be a very convincing calling card for a brilliant and stylistically confident performer, whose talent for communication was also beautifully displayed in her equally charming and personal introductions to the works ...
Each of the eight pieces was tackled with healthy creative determination and - Mikulska must have inexhaustible mental powers - without the slightest sign of unease or nervousness. She revealed a more "classical" conception of the music of her compatriot, conforming neither to the image of an elegant nor a romantic player. Nothing was ambiguous or remained obscure or seemed casual or produced off the cuff. Mikulska's Chopin sounded clear, almost as if it had been sculpted. The audience heard so much original virtuosity, musicality and vitality in her playing that this precious experience will surely be remembered by many. (...)
From the beginning, you could feel the passion with which Chopin evokes his own Polish sense of home and pride of his people. In particular, the characterization of the polonaise, as it has been handed down by Franz Liszt, as having a very masculine bearing in which beauty, aristocracy, strife and chivalry merge into each other, was turned into a sensual experience by the melancholy and pride which Mikulska's playing evoked. (...)
In Chopin's tragic and grandiose manifestations of his pride and his suffering, the artist let herself go, invested, risking true energy from the soul and revived the aura, the magic, the grandiosity of Chopin's musical spell. The large audience was entranced.
…The artist struck the first notes on the new piano with confidence - and with the "Andante con Variazioni" straightaway plunged into the midst of Haydn's fascinating world of sounds, oscillating between cheerfulness and melancholy: concentrated, introverted and with facial expression - at times Mikulska seemed to be singing along in thought. What a contrast then Chopin's "Ballade" provided, whose elegant passion and deep longing she interpreted with impressive power and feeling for detail. The artist presented the "Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante with fullness of expression and at the same time lyrical sonority, which grew into a huge finale. (...)
Devoutly she set about a "Nocturne" by Chopin, leading it to an almost inaudible finish. In the "Fantaisie" and the "Impromptu" the artist again impressed with the well-measured force applied to the keys. In the "Scherzo" she savoured the exuberant sophistication of the composition to the full. The final work in the concert was the "Hungarian Rhapsody no. XI" by Liszt, in which the pianist led the wild dancing sounds to a hymnal climax. The minute-long applause for the superb pianist was enormous, who rewarded her audience with two beautiful waltzes by Chopin.
The inauguration of the new Förster grand piano in the town-hall in Wolfach took place with a top class concert by pianist Aleksandra Mikulska. The musician, her instrument and the room seemed to merge into one harmonious entity. Mikulska gave the large audience an unforgettable musical experience. (…)
What followed was a fascinating journey into the world of Frédéric Chopin with five of his works, whose musical language the pianist has completely internalized and knows how to interpret like hardly anyone else. (…)
With her very thoughtful, analytical style of playing, which never, however, mutates into narcissistic self purpose, she permeates the works of Chopin to the smallest detail, illuminating every note, every line, every phrase in this virtuosic display of fireworks. Nothing is concealed by romantic bombast, everything fits together perfectly.
Despite all the brilliance and virtuosity, which was made to look quite normal, everything remains at all times completely under control with this seemingly so delicate and yet so vigorous and powerful performer, who puts herself solely in the service of this captivating musical universe.
Not only in Chopin, but also in Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody no. XI" did she explore all facets of detail.
After this, no-one was able to remain seated. Standing ovations by an audience overwhelmed by this bravura performance, resulted in two encores. The audience showed its gratitude with a small serenade for her birthday which the pianist was celebrating on this very day.
…Her unique style is a combination of clear accentuation, subtle touch, sensitively shaped dynamics and sparkling vitality with profound musical expression, delicate sound and incredible virtuosity. Impressive as well, her firm attack and feeling for noble effects and exquisite tonal colours that lend tension, drama, pathos and expressivity to her interpretations.
Mikulska's playing is always characterized by a vigorous attack, but also by thoughtfulness and restrained melancholy, as witnessed in the G Minor Ballade op. 23. (…)
In the final work on the programme (...) the pianist revealed herself as a virtuoso in a big way. Romantic-poetic sound, virtuoso finger play, exciting dynamics and a variety of shades combined to produce a highly effective outcome. …