Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz

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May 8, 2008

Blechacz's Great Success in North America (2)

A Blechacz' fan who has been supporting the pianist for years sent me a comment after reading the report No.1.

He said, "My impression is that his approach to Szymanowski changed fairly since Hamamatsu."

I was interested in the comment. Is it real? So I listened to the CD of Hamamatsu Competition.
I felt it was very different.

In Hamamatsu, he plays at the tempo and volume that he can afford.
It is very beautiful rendition making me confortable.

This time, however, what I listened to was more furious music with risky speed and drastically wide range of volume. I felt as if I was pulled abruptly and thrown into the depth of the steep world he created.

He rehearsed Szymanowski repeatedly. Did he try to creat this special world of music?


As I wrote, I had an opportunity to hear his rehearsal in the loby of Le Petit Trianon Theatre in San Jose.

I heard the scale first, and then Szymanowski's variations again and again...


"Rafał started studying philosophy".

After a while, Rafał's father, came out of the concert hall and talked to me.

We had conversation for a while, and this topic appeared.

"Is Rafał enrolled in the university?"
"No, he is getting individual teaching".

For Rafał, studying philosophy is as important as music. He should also expand repertoire. He is quite busy. But he is young. So I believe he will make it.

Mr. Blecahcz talked to me with quiet and stable smile.

Therefore, next year's Japan tour should be shortened to between Feb. 5 and Feb. 25. A total of seven concerts will take place: two concertos and five solo recitals.

Mr. Blechacz always accompanys Rafał on his concert tour to support him so that he can concentrate on the music.

In San Jose's concert, I witnessed the father seated on the audience seat ernestly keeping his eyes fixed upon his son on the stage.

"The recital in Michigan, the debut concert in the United States was well accepted, right?" I asked him.

"Yes, I read the review of Michigan. The review in Vancouver is also good".

He looked very happy.


"Chicago has about a million polish residents. In Vancouver, there are 2500. I do not know about San Jose".

In the middle of the conversation, he brought cookies on the blue napkin.
"Please take it. Please".

I was wondering if the cookies were for energy supply before the stage. The round butter cookies with herbs in them tasted good.


The reason why Mr. Blechacz came down to me for chatting was because I was able to talk to him in the post-concert reception held in Vancouver two days before.

The reception was organized by the Vancouver Chopin Society to raise fund. To join the reception, it was necessary to enter the name and pay donation beforehand. So while in Japan, I had communication with the person in charge and was able to secure the space.

The donations thus collected will be used for the operation of the Society and support of young promising artists.

I had an invitation letter sent to me at home in Tokyo.

It read:
"To the Vancouver Chopin Society 10th Anniversary Gala & Fundraising reception...

Approx. 10:10 Introduction of the Maestro and Dignitaries.

"Who is the Maestro?" I was wondering.
"Ah! Rafał is Maestro!"


Poster for the Vancouver recital


In the reception, however, both Rafał and his father were surrounded by VIPs, people related to the Sponsor, Polish people in particular, and it seemed impossible to find a second to talk to.

I was a part of the long line of people waiting for the opportunity. While waiting, I was chatting with two teenagers: a Korean and a Chinese origin. Both are students in Vancouver.

After waiting for long, long time, we found an eye of the storm.
Now Rafał is alone.
The two students hesitated a moment. So I decided to talk to Rafał first.

"Hello. I am a fan from Japan".
The moment I talked to him, a Polish speaking lady kidnapped Rafał.

We had lost a one-in-a-million chance!
But Rafał returned to us.

He smiled and asked to me.
"You are Japanese. But do you live in Vancouver?"
"No, I came from Japan. Could you please read this later?"

I presented him with the envelop containing copies of Rafał's article in the Japanese music magazine with my English translation and a white handkerchief, and asked him for sign on CD cover.

"Thank you very much. Now let me introduce my friends".
I delivered Rafał to two teenagers who were anxiously waiting for.

That is all I was able to talk with Rafał on that occasion.


After that in the reception, I had an opportunity to talk with the person of the Chopin Society whom I had had contact to join the reception.

"In Japan, you have Rafał Blechacz's fans club, right?"
A tall, friendly gentleman talked to me.

I enjoyed pleasant conversation with him. Shortly after that, he introduceed to me Rafał's father.

"Do you know a fan coming from Japan?"

So I was able to introduce myself to Rafał's father.
On leaving the venue, I talked to the father again and told him that I would come to San Jose recital also.

Mr. Blechacz asked me,
"So you are transferring there tomorrow? What time is your flight?"
Coincidentally, my flight seemed to be the same as the Blechaczs.

The father said,"We maybe see at the airport tomorrow".
"Yes, maybe..or not maybe". (Oh, my god!)


Vancouver's reception


Next day, at Vancouver International Airport.
I went through the security check at the terminal for the U.S., and was sitting in the Asian food cafe and had grilled chicken and rice.

I saw Rafał and Mr. Blechacz slowly walking down the corridor leading to the gate. Rafał shouldered a black backpack with both hands free (for protection?) and Mr. Blechacz were carrying black bags.

I looked down. I thought I could not disturb them.

In the latest article of the Japanese music magazine, Rafał said,
"I find time to be relaxed and read books during flight and transfer as well as stay at hotel".

When there is a concert, he devotes all body and soul to playing the instrument. Very often, the reception follows like last night.

During the reception, both Rafał and Mr. Blechacz were talking with surrounding supporters who were excited all the time.

Neither Rafał nor Mr. Blechacz could eat or drink.
There is always someone talking to them.

I thought that they would like to have quiet time during transfer and at the hotel without being disturbed.


When I went to the gate lobby, I saw them sitting in the open cafe adjacent to the loby.

I went away to the bench of different gate and worked on PC.

Minutes before the departure time, there was a call to passengers with priority boarding right.

I saw Rafał smiling when his ticket was checked by the crew.
How polite he is!



On arriving at San Francisco International Airport, I was at the baggage claim waiting for the bag. I saw Rafał and Mr. Blechacz walking down the staircase.

One thing weighed on me. I had a chocolate box with me that one of the high school students at the reception asked me to deliver to Rafał.
She was earnestly writing the letter to Rafał on the bus and it stuck to me.

I decided and came up to Rafał.
"I am very sorry to disturb you, Mr. Blechacz. This is the present from my Korean friend. She could not give it to you last night and asked me for delivery. She wrote a letter to you that is in the bag".

Rafał said, "So she wanted to give it to me last night, but she could not?" as if he was making sure the question during media interview.
Then he smiled and looked into the bag happily.

"We will see on Sunday?" he said to me.

I do not think Rafał remembered me, but he suggested the topic that is common among us. He may have been informed about me by his father.
I thought he is smart and nice.


The baggage conveyer started moving and I found my suitcase appearing. I took it and looked back to say thank you to Rafał and Mr. Blechacz.

Mr. Blechacz smiled quietly.
Rafał said "Bye baaaa-ye!" with a beaming smile, waving right hand widely.

I was wondering what secret does his mother have to raise her son so sweet.

Back in Japan, now I have no solid sense that I had a conversation with RAFAŁ BLECHACZ at the baggage corner in the SF Airport.


San Jose autographic session


One more thing that shows how sweet a person Rafał is.
It was at the autographic session in San Jose.

When I put the concert program in front of him, he turned a page, asking,
"Maybe, the photo page is better?"
I faltered, "W,well, which is better..?"

He swiftly returned to the original page, put sign and said,
"I am writing your name. What is your name?"

By so saying, he wrote down my name with his sign.

I was really delighted.

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