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Jul 30, 2008

Blechacz interview in Japan (2004) Part2

(This is the interview Rafał Blechacz gave to a Japanese music magazine in 2004.)

Recently, Rafał Blechacz wears glasses. It suits well with his gentle appearance.
"After the (2003 Hamamatsu) competition, my eyesight has been weakening.."says smiling Rafal.

"You study music scores too intensively?", I asked half jokingly.
"Yes, I think that's probably the case," answers Rafał in earnest.

He has just become 19 years old last month.
Now I do not have the impression of the slender boy that I felt at the time he was awarded the 2nd prize
in the 5th Hamamatsu Piano Competition last year.
But he remains the same in that he is always honest and calm.

The personality helped him draw popularity from the audiences of a wide range of age group
in the recitals he has had this month commemorating the award at Hamamatsu
where he demonstrated scrupulous and fresh performances.

What was the biggest change after the Hamamatsu Competition?
"First and foremost, now I have my grand piano".

Grown up by the parents who are not musician, he did not have a grand at home so far.

"But now, the grand became necessary for my life as a pianist..
If playing the upright piano is something like walking on the ground,
playing the grand is as if I were flying in the sky", smiles Rafal.

When talking about piano, he looks really happy.

"The new grand piano expanded my potential.
I resumed study of Debussy before the Japan tour,
and I found that there are more things that I can do".


Blechacz in Hamamatsu (2004)


He will soon start studies full time at Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz.
He will learn more subjects such as music history and musical grammar as well as piano.
He will have more opportunities for playing at recitals, so he should expand repertoire further.

"Right now, I am truly interested in the Impressionists.
Debussy and Ravel, although I do not have enough time to practice Ravel seriously.

I also love the Baropue, such as J.S.Bach's "Preludes and Fugues" and "Italian Concerto".
And, of course, Chopin.
Whereas almost all the pianists in the world play Chopin,
for me, Chopin is the special composer that I value most."

He says he has been making progress in preparation for the Chopin Competition next year.
Also, it was decided that his first recording will be released prior to the competition.
The recording will take place in December, 2004,
and it will be released in February 2005 from ACCORD Label of Poland.

What kind of music will be released?
He says Debussy and Liszt are included.

"Debussy's music is the one for pianists. I am required to describe expressiveness of the piano.
I have been working on Liszt, and ah, it is really virtuoso!", smiles Rafał.

When talking about music, Rafał becomes a little bit more talkative than talking of other matters.

"I would like to grow by experienceing good performance".

Asked if he knows why he is so popular among audience,
he tilted his head to one side and said self-consciously,
"Ah, I have no idea".

The shy smile lets me understand what kind of person he is
and the impression is very different from the calm attitude when he was talking about music.

But I believe it is his personality.


Blechacz signs at Hamamatsu Hall (2004)

Jul 28, 2008

Universal announced Blechacz CD released in autumn

In Japan, Universal Music Japan has officially announced Blechacz new CD
"rafał blechacz sonatas-Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven"
will be released on Sept. 3, 2008.




Haydn Sonata No.52 E flat major
Mozart Sonata No. 9 D major k.311
Beethoven Sonata No.2 A major op2-2


(CD:UCCG-1425, 2,500 yen. Deutsche Grammophon, to be released on Sept.3)


Recommendation included in the announcement reads;
"Rafał Blechacz 2nd recording from Deutsche Grammophon!
The sonatas of three great Viennese Classical composers, the best of breed classical music.

Actually, it requires the highest level of style and discipline to play such classicals.
But this is the area that Blechacz can demonstrate his outstanding sense of stylization and balance.

'Unpretentious but exceptionally outstanding pianist.'
His quiet and restrained yet exquisitely polished performance will prove to be truly worthy".


The CD will be available at Sites of Tower Records Japan here,
and HMV Japan. here

Amazon Japan is here.




----------

Meanwhile, as of July 22,
Rafał Blechacz Official Web Site announced the release of the new CD would be on Oct. 1, 2008.
here

A Polish Rafał fan notified me of the release information. I would like to appreciate her for the news.

I am wondering if the new CD will be released in a staggered manner depending on markets.
I expect Universal and/or Deutsche Grammophon to issue the release schedule soon.

Personally, it does not matter for me if it is released in Sept. or Oct.,
because I love the current CD "Preludia" so deeply that I will remain quite happy with that,
although I know that Blechacz's Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven are super-excellent!

Jul 22, 2008

Blechacz interview in Japan (2004) Part 1

In July 2004, Rafał Blechacz had a tour recitals in Japan,
in commemoration of his winning the 2nd place in the 5th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in 2003.

During his stay in Japan for the tour, Blechacz received an interview from the Japanese Music Magazine.
The following is an excerpt of the interview.



------
"I got Roman Polanski's sign."

The victory in the Hamamatsu competition brought Rafał Blechacz into the spotlight of the world.
Now he attends Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, Poland. How does he lead his life at school?

"Doing piano practice requires a lot of time. Therefore, I always play the piano.
Besides, I love organ music and symphonies and often listen to such music".

But first and foremost, he loves piano. When he has some time, he reads books and enjoy films.

"What I read are books related to music.
I love Chopin, so I spend some time reading Chopin's letters, diaries as well as his biography.
Reading about Chopin is quite interesting because it helps me find the aspects that I did not know."

He says he is not one of those who actively go out of home.


Cover of the Music magazine (2004)



"But I love watching films. I saw "The Pianist" which became talked about a lot.
It was quite impressive a story of the pianist who was able to survive thanks greatly to the music.

Once I happened to be in the same flight with Roman Polanski, the director of the film.
I asked him for a sign, but I did not talk with him about Chopin.."

"Szpilman, the protagonist, has a firm resolution as a pianist, energetic and really amazing,"
says Rafał quitely but with enthusiasm.

When he said "a firm resolution as a pianist," I felt the words correspond to his thoughts about how the pianist shold be.
Undeniably, for the 19 year-old young man, there is nothing better than piano and music.

Jul 18, 2008

Blechacz interviewed just after 2003 Hamamatsu Competition

In November 2003, Rafał Blechacz won the 2nd prize in the 5th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition
together with Alexander Kobrin.

The following is an interview Blechacz gave soon after the competition
and was carried in the Japanese Music Magazine.


Final stage of the 2003 Hamamatsu Competition

-----
Before coming to Japan, I was not for sure if I could do what I was supposed to do.
But after coming here, everyone was kind and caring, so I was relieved.

I wanted to repay their kindness by performing the music as beautifully as possible.

At any stage during the competition, I did not feel that I was playing for the competition.
I always believed that I was playing my recital
and would like the audience to sense something that I tried to communicate with them.

I have just graduated from Artur Rubinstein State Music School
and now I attend Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, located about 30 km from my home.

Only one month has passed since I joined the Academy, so I have not yet been familiar with the school life.
But overall, there is no big change in my day to day life.

I am always busy in practicing the piano and cannot find anything else to enjoy myself.
The first thing I would like to do now is to expand repertoire.

Now I am thinking about joining the 2005 Chopin Piano Competition, so I give my priority to Chopin works.

When playing Chopin music, I feel as if I were dreaming.  I think this is the music that represents best my characteristics.

For what I do in daily life except for playing the piano, I live quite an ordinary life.
You can ask my father who accompanies me during my stay in Japan for what I do in everyday life.

(Professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydron, Blechacz's teacher at Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz,
came to the venue of the competition to cheer him up after he was selected as one of the finalists.)


From Hamamatsu program

Jul 16, 2008

Zimerman says "Blechacz is my friend."

Krystian Zimerman held two charity recitals in Japan: one at Karuizawa OHGA Hall and another one at Ryutopia Hall in Niigata on 11 and 12 of July, 2008, respectively.
As is well known, Rafał Blechacz respects Zimerman very much.


Program @Karuizawa

Mozart sonata No.10 C Major
Beethoven sonata No.8 C Minor "pathétique"
Chopin sonata No.3 B Minor


Program @Niigata

J.S. Bach Partita No. 2 C Minor BWV 826
Beethoven sonata No.8 C Minor "pathétique"
Brahms Four Pieces for Piano, Op. 119
Bacewicz Sonata No.2


One of the Blechacz's fans attended both of the recitals.
On the first day in Karuizawa, she was deeply impressed by the performance, especially by Chopin Sonata No.3.

After the recital, she went to the railway station to go to next venue Niigata, and saw Zimerman and his team standing on the platform.
The following is the story there that she e-mailed to me.


Krystian Zimerman

-----
When I saw Zimerman on the platform, I just ran up to him and clasped his hands, and said in Japanese,
"Blechacz wo Yorosikune! (Blechacz...Could you please take care of Blechacz!)"

Without any hesitation, Zimerman said,
"...my friend..."
I heard clearly Zimerman talking about Rafał as "Friend". I have an ear for music and I hear the words well.

Zimerman, one of the greatest pianists in the world, called Rafał friend, although Rafał is at the age of his son. How heartwarming and generous a person he is!
I believe Zimerman really loves Rafał.

Zimerman decided to hold a concert in Niigata in addition to Karuizawa, because there were big earthquakes there twice in the last few years and he wanted to do something to help people there. He played there without being paid. Rather, he paid all the costs for the concert including the cost for transporting his piano.

I sincerely believe that Zimerman is a man of great character. Like Rafał, I also respect Zimerman very much.

Jul 1, 2008

Blechacz receives ECHO Klassik Award (2008)

This is the additional information about the news that Rafał Blechacz received German ECHO Klassik Award.
--------------
YELLOW LABEL SCORES BIG AGAIN AT 2008 ECHOS

Dear DG Yellow News Subscribers,

The German Recording Academy (Phono-Akademie) has just announced this year’s winners of its coveted ECHO Awards, one of the most prestigious accolades in the world of classical music. We are delighted to report that Deutsche Grammophon’s artists, including Rafał Blechacz, Daniel Hope, Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón, have taken the top prize in six categories.


RAFAŁ BLECHACZ
Instrumentalist of the Year (Piano)
Chopin: Preludes, Nocturnes op.62
CD 477 6592

DANIEL HOPE
Concerto Recording of the Year (Music of the 19th Century)
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto (original version), Octet & 3 Lieder
Chamber Orchestra of Europe Thomas Hengelbrock Sebastian Knauer
CD 477 6634

ANNA NETREBKO ROLANDO Villazón
Bestselling Album of the Year
“Duets”
Dresden Staatskapelle Nicola Luisotti
CD 477 6457 (D/A/CH: 477 6456)

HARNONCOURT NETREBKO Röschmann Schäfer SKOVHUS D’ARCANGELO
Music DVD Production of the Year (Opera)
Le nozze di Figaro (2006 Salzburg Festival production)
Wiener Philharmoniker
DVD 073 4245

Fauré QUARTET
Chamber Music Recording of the Year (Music of the 19th Century)
Brahms: Piano Quartets nos.1 & 3, opp. 25 & 60
CD 476 6323

ALBRECHT MAYER
Music DVD Production of the Year (Concert/Documentary)
“New Seasons” (Handel Oboe Concertos)
Sinfonia Varsovia
DVD 076 2714


The trophies will presented at the 15th annual gala ECHO awards ceremony, to be held on 19 October at Munich’s Philharmonie im Gasteig and telecast in Germany, under the title “Echo der Stars”, that evening at 10 p.m. by ZDF (Second German Television channel).

Congratulations to all award-winners!

Your Deutsche Grammophon Web Team


And
Congratulations Rafał Blechacz!!

Rafał Blechacz says music is a sincere prayer (interview in Poland)

Interview that Rafał Blechacz gave to "Catholic Guide (Przewodnik Katolicki) in November 2007.

(The original Polish text is here.)


What impressed me most was Blechacz's answers to the last two Questions.


Q: Before becoming Mr. virtuoso, like all of us you were seated on the audience side for the concerts of other artists. Which concert do you remember most because of musician's creative mastery and the prevailing atmosphere?

A: There are two such concerts. The recital which has been remaining vividly in my memory is that of Mischa Maisky, an outstanding cellist. I was then 12 years old, when he came to Bydgoszcz. Even today I hear his performance of three suites by Johann Sebastian Bach, which put me under spell.

The second concert I remember well took place in the Pomeranian Philharmonic in Bydgoszcz. There was a choir (composed of boys and men) called "Poznan Nightingales" with its conductor, professor Stefan Stuligrosz. The choir performed "Messiah" by Handel. On that occasion, I heard this work for the first time in its entirety and live.


Pomeranian Philharmonic (Filharmonia Pomorska) in Bydgoszcz


Q: Do you agree with the view that music whose beauty remains in your heart, is like a prayer?

A: Of course, music can be a sincere prayer. I decided to express myself through music, because it allows me to transfer the important essence without naming it directly.

I think that not only the audience but also the pianist feels elevated spiritually, by meeting with the beauty of such intercourse. Momentary sounds may release unusual experiences and emotions, which you want to remember for long. In this way, one becomes decidedly better.