'Herdeg’s performance is as much drama as dance. Her grace and expressiveness are as effecting in her moments of stillness as in her virtuoso leaps high above the piano ... Her edgy performance easily holds its own in top-class virtuosity whilst Desponds proves himself as an inspirational interpreter of Chopin. He has an impressive palette of rubati and nuance, and conveys with ease the fragile balance, so specific to Chopin’s work, between improvisation and form, between explosion and restraint.’ Schweizer Musikzeitung
żal – homage to frédéric chopin is a theatrical exploration of the life and works of composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849). A combination of contemporary dance theatre piece and virtuoso concert, żal revolves around the main themes of Chopin’s life; interminable homesickness for Poland, his merciless compositional inspirations, his illnesses, and his fear of an audience. It begins with Chopin’s journey to Paris where he arrives in September 1831. Before long he is considered an insider’s tip; this coughing pianist who drinks milk and looks like a young lady, a sentimental Pole who prefers an unadorned polonaise to all the glamour of Paris. Chopin’s works of genius arise from a profoundly human dynamic; the struggle between feeling a violent revolt against one’s own destiny, whilst also harbouring an inmost devotion towards it. Chopin recognised this feeling of inner-conflict in the Polish word 'żal' and burnt it into his heart and music. 'żal' is a word in which both rebellion and devotion are embodied in one sound.
In żal – homage to frédéric chopin the Chopin figure is split, embodied simultaneously by a pianist (André Desponds) and a dancer (Andrea Herdeg). Visual design by Georg Lendorff weaves in original artworks by Biagio Mastroianni to create a rich setting for the performers. On stage Herdeg and Desponds build a series of sonic and visual images from Chopin’s life which, enriched by Lendorff’s original projections, merge into a complex and exhilarating whole.
żal – homage to frédéric chopin was created in collaboration with director Jean-Martin Moncéro and choreographer Kate Higginbottom. A work in progress was shown at the 2005 Blickfelder Festival in Zürich. The finished work premiered at Theater der Künste Zürich in 2006 and has been touring ever since. It has played at venues including: Kaserne Basel, Theater Casino Zug, Théâtre du Passage Neuchâtel, Theater Winterthur, Teatro Dimitri Verscio.