Marzena Diakun graduated from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław. She earned her Master's at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna and her Doctorate at the Academy of Music in Kraków. Diakun was awarded the highest distinction for conductors from the Polish Ministry of Culture in 2005 and received second prize at the 59th Prague Spring Competition for Conductors in the Czech Republic. She was a finalist in the 4th International Lutosławski Conducting Competition in Poland in 2006 and a semifinalist in both the Quadaques Conductors Competition in Barcelona and Donatella Flick Competition in London in 2008. Additionally, Diakun won first prize at the Fitelberg Competition in Katowice in 2011 and was awarded second prize in 2012. She currently serves as a tenured lecturer at the Karol Lipinski Academy of Music.
Maurice Ravel originally composed his Piano Concerto in G major as a concerto for his own use. However, when the work was finished, Marguerite Long gave the first performance in January 1932, with Ravel conducting, rather than at the piano. Ravel had intended to write an easier concerto for his public performances but later decided to compose a concerto of fitting difficulty and resolved himself to acquire the technique. Alas, after hours of practice devoted to the etudes of Czerny and Chopin, he did not possess the digital skills or agility to perform the piece as he had written it.
Basque and Spanish melodies, jazz riffs, the influences of Mozart and Saint-Saëns can be heard throughout the G major Concerto. Fellow Basque, Gustave Samazeuilh, had spent a holiday with Ravel in the Basque land in 1911 and Samazeuilh later recalled that Ravel had sketched a “Basque Concerto” for piano and orchestra. Ravel’s Basque heritage and lifelong dedication to Spanish culture come through in the lively themes of the work. Additionally, his preoccupation with the percussive potential of the piano and his melodies show a talent for giving a sophisticated edge to jazz language.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator