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Aug 30, 2008

French critic praises Blechacz at Salzburg

ConcertoNet.com posted a review of Blechacz's Salzburg debut recital on Aug.15, 2008.

Reviewer: Didier van Moere

Original review is here. (French)

The following is a rough translation into English.
(It is an abridged one out of concern of copywright;
also please be reminded that the translator is a Japanese, not a native speaker to either French or English. I have never learned French officially, but Spanish is my third language and helps me understand languages of Latin-origin, including French.)
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We will follow the young Polish pianist very closely.

Three years after the Chopin competition, Rafał Blechacz was invited to Salzbourg. There is no other place of authority than Mozarteum as the grand festival house researved for major stars of piano. Even Arkadi Volodos played here once and started his journey as a great pianist.

For now, let’s see Italian concerto. Blechacz shows rather green and dense sound in Allegro while decorating it with occasional points of humour. In Andante, he is mindful of sonority, thus being able to add colors. The presto was quite a contrast, played so rapid as far as to having crispation.

Studies of Liszt are brilliant, with more profoundness as the time goes by:
"The leggierezza" is clear, nuanced, with well-proportioned rubato. It does not require more sonorous invention.
"Murmurs of Forest" could sing more with the left hand;
"Ronde des Lutins," however, sparkles and jumped into a Mendelssohnian lightness,
the pianist did not fall into the trap of excessive passion.

Estampes by Debussy was less comvincing; it was well controlled; but you fill find more excitement than atmonsphere.It seems that the pianist rejects impressionist approach.
"Pagodas" spreads rather crude light, and its internal life is gradually animated and intensified. "Soiree dans Granada" gives less importance to mystery than urgence. "Jardins sous la pluie" seems to be more supportive of evocative aspects.

The second part was devoted to Chopin: if Bach, Liszt and Debussy demands that he decants the music, the winner of the competition showed an incontestable maturity.

The Nocturnes, at the outset, are self-restrained and wonderfully clear; with a mix of subtle rubato. There is nothing regrettable, dry and flat.

This was confirmed with the Sonata: the Allegro maestoso is well built with the sense of form and conveys passion. The Scherzo bursts light and soluble, showing appropriate contrast between light and shade. Largo remains a sober lyricism, faithful to the classicism of Chopin. The middle part allows a superb time of serious contemplation.
He avoids the course to the uncontrolled abyss in the Finale; powerful but donimated.

The audience gave the young Pole a big applause which prolonged the second part of the recital with Mazurka and Valse of beautiful elegance.
We will follow this young man very closely.
(by Didier Van Moere)


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I found that the reviewer says that Blechacz should "decant" the music of Bach, Liszt and Debussy.

I suppose "decant" means skim the liquid (wine, for example) and obtain the clear part only.

I remember the same word (decant) was used by another French reviewer to describe Blechacz's recital in Paris on Jan. 27, 2008. ("I believe he is going to refine himself" in the second line from the bottom; the original French for "refine himself" was "decant")

Another review on Blechacz's recital in Salzburg written by an American reviewer said "Blechacz can stand to clean up this music (Chopin Sonata No.3) a little."

I suppose the fact that three music critics describe part of Blechacz's recital performance in a similar manner suggests something. I am not a music expert but I am sensitive to the words people use in every context.
I sincerly hope that this finding is informative to Rafal, not embarrassing.

One of Japanese friends said that his tone was very aggressive and different from the "Blechacz way" (self-constraind, quiet and beautiful). She wonders what Blechacz is thinking about now and at the same time she expects Blechacz to play Rachmaninov in the near future.

Personally, I felt Rafał's performance at Salzburg was in line with his recent trend path, quite similar to but more interesting than La Roque d’Anthéron Piano Festival (Aug.2). His tone remains untainted and beautiful, but it extends more with profound dynamics, reaching out for wider scope of the audience.
He plays in a spirited manner with more freedom.
I am impressed that for the past few months, every time he plays for a recital, he changes something, giving the audience something novel and fresh. Very commendable.

I suppose Rafał will have to be focused on Chopin more or less until the year 2010 (Chopin Year), so my friend cannot expect Rachmaninov before that.
Rafał is smart and steady. I guess he has already started the preparation for post-2010 period, taking time out of his busy schedule. (He has set aside some of his time to study philosophy.)

In the latest recital at Salzburg, I was deeply touched by his Bach. The swift tempo, effective way to accent in the 1st movement were wonderful. And articulation; I felt that Rafał sometimes swiched the "stop (of the organ)" in order to completely change the tone and color of the sound. It was especially effective in the 2nd movement. It is superb. No other pianist can emulate it.
I really love Rafał's playing Bach, especially the 3rd movement. It was speedier with more punctuation than at his recital in Tokyo Opera City last year.

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