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LFJ’s Martin to launch Chopin ‘musical diary’ in Tokyo

by Chiho Iuchi

French producer Rene Martin is launching a new musical project titled Le Journal Musical de Chopin (The Musical Diary of Chopin) this month in Japan.

Renowned for the successful music festival La Folle Journee (Days of Enthusiasm), which has presented Martin’s vision of the democratization of classical music and delighted audiences with first-class performances at surprisingly low prices, the charismatic producer now presents a series of concerts featuring all the piano solo pieces by Polish composer Frederic Chopin (1810-1849).

Although sharing characteristics — low-priced, short concerts in brief appearances — the Chopin project is not a carbon copy of the LFJ. But Tokyo was chosen as the starting point for this innovative project because of the LFJ’s success here.

“I would like to explore profoundly a specific genre of a particular composer. Chopin, who continued to create almost exclusively piano pieces throughout his life, would be a proper composer for this project,” explains Martin.

Having done smaller-scale performances of the Chopin program in 2006 in Nimes, southern France, Martin plans to develop the project until 2010, which marks the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth, giving concerts around the world in cities in which Chopin used to live, including Paris and Warsaw.

During the four-day event, 14 concerts trace Chopin’s whole life through all of his piano solo pieces — from the first polonaise in G minor at the age of 7 in his happy childhood in Poland; to the swan song “Mazurka in F minor” shortly before his death in Paris.

Each concert will last about one hour with between five and 30 short pieces performed in a chronological order to create a feeling of reading Chopin’s diary.

For this project, Martin selected six pianists: Lebanese veteran Abdel Rahman El Bacha, a Chopin specialist, who inspired Martin to take on this project; young Israeli Iddo Bar-Shai; French veteran Anne Queffelec; Philippe Giusiano, who won the Chopin International Competition in 1995; Japanese talent Momo Kodama; and rising young star Jean-Frederic Neuburger of France.

“The performers vary in nationalities and generations, yet share the sensibility toward Chopin,” says Martin.

The programs of each concert are divided by the pianists, who will relay their performances one after another.

“It will be interesting for the audience to listen to six different pianists at a single concert,” said Martin.

Le Journal Musical de Chopin takes place at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, from Nov. 27 to Nov. 30. For detailed schedule information visit chopin-project.jp