Three Reviews by Ms. Yoshiko Ikuma, Japanese music journalist
CD "sonatas - haydn, mozart, beethoven"
published by "Ongaku-no-tomo (Friend of Music)" Nov. edition, 2008
Fresh and limpid water drops are pouring out vigorously to fill the springs.
In the same way, his sounds fill our heart and mind with inspirations.
How pure and crystal-clear the water is!
The works by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart is given a new life thus captivating our hearts with excitement.
Completely refined technique, straightforward and unpretentious and right interpretations, lively rhythm
– everything is a testimony to the situation where Rafał Blechacz is now very much fulfilled, physically and mentally.
The three sonatas selected for the new CD are those Blehcacz has loved and performed for long years.
Outstandingly beautiful one is, in my impression, Beethoven sonata No.2 fourth movement.
He plays that graceful but technically difficult theme lightly as if humming a tune, picking up in tempo.
This natural way of playing the theme has seized my attention
and now I cannot pass a day without listening to it.
His Haydn lets me enjoy harmonic changes and the wonder of modulations;
and with Mozart, his expression of rhythm brings sense of happiness as if I am going up to Heaven.
Recital at Salzburg Festival on Aug. 15, 2008
published in Sept. edidion of the same magazine
“I am very happy to be able to play for the prestigious festival
I was relieved to see the hall was full”.
Says Rafał Blechacz after making a spectacular debut playing works of Bach, Liszt and Chopin in Salzburg.
Every year, a debut recital here draws people’s attention and this year,
Salzburg had a waited debut recital by Rafał Blechacz.
He appeared on the stage of Großer Saal of Mozarteum with a mild, relaxed look.
He sat quietly in front of the piano with a gentle smile, and started playing “Italian Concerto” by J.S. Bach at once.
Since he was young, he has been playing Bach with the organ in the parish church.
“Italian Concerto” is one of the long-cherished pieces of Bach that he has played for long years and constituted his soul music.
He began playing the brilliant and shining first movement at quick tempo delineating the theme to the fore.
His poetry was demonstrated in the slow beautiful movement, reminiscent of an aria sung by a solo violin.
He played the rondo of the final movement buoyant and vigorously;
he was able to express the depth of sound—the feat he cultivated through playing the organ.
Next items on the program were: Franz Liszt concert studies: Waldesrauschen, La Leggierezza and Gnomenreigen;
Claude Debussy Estampes.
These works before the intermission were those that Blechacz played in his 2007 Japan Tour.
My impression was that he studied all the works further into details,
refined the way he plays them and demonstrated his deep insight into the music getting near the heart of the pieces.
He performed in an elaborate and delicate way as if he were an artisan who weaves threads into a tapestry,
paying attention to the smallest detail, thus inspiring the audience who made the hall full highly focused.
His genuine value was proved further by the works of Chopin after the intermission.
He played “Two Nocturnes op.62” and “Piano Sonata No.3” with the consistency and confidence worthy of the victor of Chopin competition
and drew a big applause with bravo from the audience of music connoisseur in Salzburg.
“I am very happy to be able to play for the prestigious festival
I was relieved to see the hall was full.
I have been practicing repeatedly the pieces that I played in Japan trying to advance them to the higher level”.
He spent the next day for giving interviews and looked fully comfortable and confident.
He has been inundated by the requests of holding concerts especially in Europe and America
but he limits the number of concerts up to less than 40 a year.
The sonatas of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven released in the new CD are the works that he has been studying and playing for long years.
(The new CD was just released by Universal Japan in September.)
He explains that he has selected these pieces considering the philosophical and internal depth of each work and organic linkage among them.
Actually, he just attended the recital of Pollini for the first time.
“ Listening to his piano prompted me to feel like working on Chopin Sonata No.2”, smiled Blechacz.
Going ahead, his agenda includes collaboration with Gergiev, Jansons and Pletnev.
When touring in Europe, he drives around by himself.
From the leaflet of Japan Tour 2009
A storm of applause offered by discerning Salzburg audience to Blechacz’s fresh and appealing pianism;
the storm is landing Japan again in 2009
Rafał Blechacz – now the renowned pianist after the sweeping victory at 2005 Chopin competition, winning the first prize as well as all the awards for performances of Mazurka, Polonaise and Concerto –has been continuing the comfortable advance.
He achieved phenomenal successes in major European cities of music such as Amsterdam, London and Paris.
He has displayed a performance in NY so impressive that he is invited for another concert.
Furthermore, he made a long-waited recital debut this summer in Salzburg Festival, the top of the world of music festivals with long history and tradition.
The list of performers of this year included such masterly pianists as Brendel, Pollini, Mitsuko Uchida and Zimmerman.
Blechacz appeared on the stage of Großer Saal of Mozarteum, the venue of his Salzburg debut recital at 7:30 pm August 15, 2008.
He looked relaxed and composed.
The good relax was reflected on his play; he showed a natural, sonorously singing and flowing pianism.
Although the performance is perfect, it is not stiff; I felt it refreshing and a gentle breeze blowing from somewhere.
As the pianist made himself at home, wholeheartedly enjoying playing music,
he let listeners freely absorbed in the merits of each work.
The bigger becomes a stage, the more Blechacz demonstrates his potentiality.
Rather than showing off techniques, he relies on his ability to express and depth of musicality.
He draws sighs of admiration and sometimes tears of inspiration.
I am the one who has been listening to his music since the 2005 Chopin competition
but it is the first time that I saw him playing so pleasantly.
There I caught a glimpse of how seriously he devotes himself to practicing in day to day life.
He limits the number of concerts up to 40 a year and finds it meaningful to step forward with the process of making progress alone.
“I would like to advance the quality of my performance further.
I believe that I need to be integrated with the pieces in order to let the audience fully enjoy them.
I never bring a work onto the stage if I have a small doubt about playing it.
It could be dishonest to the great composer if I dare to bring it out.
Now I really enjoy the process to squarely face each piece to try to finish it on my own.
It gives me a kind of pleasure that otherwise I could not obtain”.
Blechacz considers important his way of life and sense of value.
How much attention he receives or how busy he becomes, he has been consistent in the attitude toward life.
He makes it his motto not to change his play; the true nature remains the same although the quality continues to advance.
I believe that this is the unshakable personality of Rafal Blechacz.
His pianism colored by the form of statuesque beauty is made possible by the strenuous efforts he makes every day.
To his traditional, classical and refreshing interpretations, the discerning audience in Salzburg gave storms of applause.
Blechacz is now devoted himself to Vienna classical composers and Szymanowski.
Their works are to be played in his 2009 Japan Tour program.
I am looking forward to seeing inspiring moments that touch deeply our heart and mind.
Ms. Yoshiko Ikuma is a renowned Japanese music journalist and Blechacz watcher.
I remember when I saw Blechacz for the first time on TV program, tears appeared in my eyes.
I was surprised (I did not know who the pianist was), and tried to find why.
Ms. Ikuma's writing was quite helpful to understand Rafał Blechacz's piano
and I came to know that this is a process "common" to many people, young and old, men and women --even jurors of the competition had tears when hearing Blechacz's piano.
Please see Ikuma's essay for Blechacz's recital at Mibu during 2007 Japan Tour.
This recital at Mibu was for me the first Blechacz's solo recital.
When he appeared on the stage, I felt a gentle breeze blew across.