Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz

Blog

Dec 30, 2009

Chopin Complete Preludes by Blechacz on Silvester

As an advance celebration of 2010 Chopin Year, let me present a review of Rafał Blechacz’s CD “Chopin Complete Preludes” written by Jan de Kruijff posted on Musicalifeiten.
This is one of the reviews that one of Blechacz music lovers Jan in the Netherlands gave me recently.
Many thanks to Jan!!

Original review (Dutch)




CHOPIN: PRELUDES, NOCTURNES, BLECHACZ


Twenty years ago Professor Zurawlew, the founder of the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 1927, was asked who is his favorite winner so far.

Without hesitation he answered immediately: Martha Argerich.

If the professor is still alive he must adjust his opinion when the 22-year-old compatriot Blechacz was crowned in 2005 competition and also was loaded with three other prizes for the best interpretation of mazurkas, polonaise and the first piano concerto?

Recently, he convinced Amsterdam listeners that he can be phenomenal in live performance.
On this permanent CD he continued further.
There are a few pre-recordings of the 24 Preludes op. 28 but their subsequent offspring (by Blechacz) excels them in a perfect combination of spirited virtuosity and exciting musical insight.

The young man has the technical armor to do what he wants with the music.

Whether it is the dark melancholy of No. 2 or the lightning turmoil of No 16 (by Alfred Cortot it was once called "The road to abyss"), to mention only two extremes.

Listen especially to the inner storm that rages in No 12 and poetic internalization of No 15 also each decoration is beautiful.

Every note sounds fresh as if he just invented.

This is the kind of performance of Chopin which you often look for frequently in vain today: personal but without intrusive perverseness (stubbornness).

So listen to the delicateness, secrets and proportions of a large part of Chopin's kaleidoscopic changing and sometimes sassy music pages to be expressed.

It is these sharp interpretative contrasts which make this performance surprisingly striking.

His approach seems unpredictable, but there is a strong concept behind, which gradually shows its validity.

The breathless listener can reach afterwards rest at two very poetically proposed Nocturnes.

What more can you ask? In an hour playing a demanding listener still would have wanted a proud Polonaise - and preferably No. 7 in As, the Polonaise-Fantaisie - as an encore.

Of course, Argerich (DG 415.836-2) is not downgraded. Isn't it a surprising coincidence that DG has further Askenase (477.524-2) with Pogorelić (429.227-2) and Pollini (413.796-2) holding many trump cards in hands in regard to the Preludes?
(End of review)




The review was written shortly after Blechacz's playing recital for Meesterpianisten in Amsterdam on October 7, 2007.

May I listen to Preludes op.28 that he played there?
Listen to Preludes op.28, played by Blechacz on Oct.7, 2007 at Concertgebouw.
Preludes begin at 1:41.
I'll keep this KRO link until the end Silvester (Dec.31). (←done.)

I wish you a Happy Happy Chopin Year♪     

Dec 29, 2009

Rafał Blechacz at the International Competition for Young Pianists Arthur Rubinstein in memoriam (2002)

konkursmuzyczny.pl provides information of the International Competition for Young Pianists Arthur Rubinstein in memoriam.


Earlier this year I saw an article of the competition's history and found a comment by Jan Popis on Rafał Blechacz who won the 2nd prize in the 2002 competition.

Unfortunately, that article was gone from the site (it seems the history page is under reconstruction)

but let me pick up Mr.Jan Popis' remark.

I was prompted to do so after seeing Rafał Blechacz playing Piano Concerto in G minor by Saint-Saëns

in this tvp.pl video (only for seconds, though. @26-34th second)

Below is Mr.Popis' comment and the photo from the original article.



 More photos from the site of Yuko Kawai (Japanese pianist)

……Undoubted success belonged to 16-year-old Rafał Blechacz, an extremely talented student of State Music School of second degree from prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń’s class who took part in the Competition in 2002 and won the second prize, and thus commenced his world artistic career.

Jan Popis then talked about the young talent of Rafał in the following manner:

"It is a great joy for us Poles to have Rafał Blechacz - finalist, the second prize winner of this year's competition.

Let me say that such a beautiful artistic fruit was taken by Ewa Stąporek-Pospiech, Director of Arthur Rubinstein State Music School by ten years ago initiating the International Competition for Young Pianists Arthur Rubinstein in memoriam.

Then very shy, very, tiny, small, but very talented Rafał had a chance to look at this contest, its repertoire and the winners, and in 2002, took part in it and got so high.

He has a special kind of talent. Maybe he is not a type of entertainer who comes and immediately throws the audience to their knees as if his talent will explode.

He is rather more introverted, but so natural, so noble and so able to penetrate musical ideas that in this competition he had no equal.

Moreover, in recent days, Rafał’s pianism has been firmly established. Rafał excellently cope with large items.

He performed Sonata in G minor by Robert Schumann, was also superb in his execution of Scherzo in B minor by Chopin.

And even though many participants performed Szymanowski, I do not recall that I’ve heard during the competition, more beautiful, more original and insightful interpretation of the Variations in B flat minor, Op. 3 of the composer (than Rafał’s)

Rafał is a pianist of great versatility, natural talent, deep and true excellence.

I think that in the coming period in his artistic development there will be a jumping progress, even though now he has reached a very high level of his artistry appreciated by the audience, but above all by the jury."

(by Jan Popis, 2002)

Jan Popis:
Critic of music, producer and record publisher; Artistic Director of ‘MUZA Polish Recordings’

(Original:Polish)

Niewątpliwym sukcesem był natomiast udział niezwykle utalentownego ucznia PSM II st., 16 letniego Rafała Blechacza z klasy prof. Katarzyny Popowej -Zydroń, który na Konkursie w 2002 roku zdobył II nagrodę. Jan Popis wypowiedział się wówczas o młodym talencie Rafała w następujący sposób:

"Wielką radością dla nas Polaków jest Rafał Blechacz - finalista, laureat II nagrody tegorocznego Konkursu. Jest to, powiedziałbym, taki piękny owoc artystyczny podjętej przez dyrektor Ewę Stąporek-Pospiech przed dziesięcioma laty inicjatywy powołania przy Państwowym Zespole Szkół Muzycznych im. Artura Rubinsteina Konkursu Arthur Rubinstein in Memoriam. Niegdyś jeszcze bardzo skromniutki, malutki, drobniutki, ale jakże utalentowany Rafał miał okazję przyglądać się temu konkursowi, jego repertuarowi i grze laureatów, by w roku 2002 wziąć w nim udział i dojść tak wysoko. Jest to talent szczególnego rodzaju. Może nie jest on typem estradowca, który wychodzi i od razu rzuca na kolana audytorium, jak gdyby eksploduje swym talentem. Jest on raczej bardziej introwertyczny, ale tak naturalny, tak szlachetny i tak potrafiący przeniknąć idee muzyczne, że w tej konkurencji nie ma sobie równych. Poza tym w ostatnim okresie pianistyka Rafała mocno stężała. Rafał świetnie radzi sobie z dużymi pozycjami. Znakomicie wykonał Sonatę g-moll Roberta Schumanna, wspaniałe było również w jego wykonaniu Scherzo h-moll Chopina. I mimo, że wielu uczestników wykonuje Szymanowskiego, nie przypominam sobie, żebym dotąd na konkursie słyszał piękniejszą, bardziej oryginalną i tak wnikliwa interpretację Wariacji b-moll op. 3 tego kompozytora. Rafał to pianista o dużej wszechstronności, talent naturalny, głęboki i naprawdę nieprzeciętny. Sądzę, że w najbliższym okresie w jego rozwoju artystycznym dokona się skokowy progres, choć przecież już teraz osiągnął on bardzo wysoki poziom swego artyzmu docenionego przez publiczność, ale przede wszystkim przez jury."

"Pure Beauty!"

The famous description of Blechacz's playing was first used by Jan Popis during the 2005 Chopin Competition.

On this occasion, I revisted Popis’ essay about Blechacz written for the Gazeta of the Competition on Oct. 22 again and found that almost all that I’ve learned from various sources about the artist are already included in this writing, especially repertoire in his younger days.

If you want to learn about Blechacz, reading this essay could be one of the most efficient ways.

Dec 28, 2009

Revealing talent at age of 14//DG 2010 Calendar

Interview with Prof. Ewa Bukojemska who reflects on her experience of sitting in the jury of competitions for children, adolescents and adults at home and abroad.
She mentions about Rafał Blechacz who won a prize at age of 14.

Original interview (Polish)
(The link was made unavailable just after this article was posted here. --regrettable!)

(Excerpt)
.....She nicely recalls the National Chopin Piano Competition for Children and Youth in Jelenia Góra in 1999. The first edition was held in that year and from the third edition (2005) the competition was renamed the International. Prof. Bukojemska participated in the jury in 1999. One of the top prizes was won by then 14 - year-old Rafał Blechacz. - I remember it exactly, it was clear at first glance that he was a very talented boy, undoubtedly he revealed the suitability as a concert pianist. Gifted persons throw themselves before eyes. But often they lie dormant in human ability, from which something can be built, and sometimes it is something that cannot be noticed at once – the artist says. It's like the diamond grinding, you need to wake up when young, which is quite something.


He does not like to be judged. Not because it is often synonymous to fatigue or weariness. One-time event does not allow a young pianist to experience, is it too little time. It happens that during the competition an artist fails to "sell" his skills, for some reason does not present his talent.

Chopin Competition is called the dream of Polish pianist. In fact, Chopin's music is for us everything, but for the dedication to one area, one composer can take you for a long time. It is
important not to be lost, it's important to develop in different directions. - It's hard to find a balance between calm creativity and restless world. I have an ambivalent attitude to competition, popular measures of "clenched teeth," - says Bukojemska. The fact is that, gifted student fills teacher’s pride. Pride and happiness, you can "cut coupons". Stand on someone, what else is a concern, another is an investment that has to pay – she considers. The approach to the young pianist, in a sense, it is targeting a delicate matter, and therefore you should not exert pressure on him. Defeat may prove a source of deep disappointment, result of misfortune.

Behind the scenes sometimes it is cruel - as Professor Bukojemska says.





Deutsche Grammophon 2010 Calendar 42cm x 61cm, 13-page (incl. cover)
Jan: Anne-Sophie Mutter / Feb: Alice-Sara Ott / Mar: Lang Lang / Apr: Yundi Li / May: Martha Argerich / June: Hilary Hahn / July: Ryu Goto / Aug: Maria Joao Pires / Sept: Krystian Zimerman / Oct: Rafał Blechacz / Nov: Maurizio Pollini / Dec: Helene Grimaud

In Japan we have DG calendar every year which is black and white and with DG artists allocated to each month.
It is used for sales promotion by CD shops and also can be purchased.
I don't know if a DG calendar like this is produced in other countries.


I obtained the calendar today at Yamaha shop in Ginza after was informed that the calendar is still available by a friend of mine in US
(Thanks a lot. )

The cover is Herbert von Karajan (see photo above) at Berliner Philharmoniker and
October is Rafał Blechacz .
↓This photo is used for this year's calendar.



It looks like the artists are arranged in line with their concert schedule in Japan.

e.g. Rafał Blechacz will tour in Japan for all Chopin program in October.

Krystian Zimerman will give recital tour with all Chopin program in June and will play with Hagen Quartett at Tokyo Suntory Hall on Sept.28.

In an interview, Zimerman said that in autumn 2010, he would like to play pieces of Robert Schuman commemorating his 200th birthday like Chopin and piano quintet composed by Louis Vierne, a pupil of César Franck.

Maurizio Pollini will come to Japan in October.
Recitals at Tokyo Suntory Hall on Oct.17 & 23 and Nov.3.
According to an interview with Japanese music monthly, Pollini said he will play The Well Tempered Clavier by Bach in the recitals but the concert program has not been announced.

Dec 27, 2009

Review of Blechacz Chopin Concerti CD (Germany)

Review of Rafał Blechacz's CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" written by Thomas Gehrig,
posted on Klassik.com (German) on December 25.






The present recording is already a trendsetting hint for understanding the forthcoming Chopin year 2010, released by the Deutsche Grammophon.

The “classical” double plays of both of piano concertos by the "shooting star" Rafał Blechacz , who played four years ago as the winner of the traditional Warsaw Chopin Competition in the pianistic spotlight.

No one has achieved it in the past, illustrated by the fact that in any case only every five years delivered competition, in 1990 and 1995 no first prize was awarded so the podium remained vacant for 15 years.

On the other side, names like Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich or Krystian Zimerman show that this award already meant the springboard many times for an international career.

At least with his previous two plates Blechacz could justify his absolute victory - more than that: He proved himself not only as a worthy champion of Chopin, but enthusiastic following with interpretations of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven sonatas.

For the first time, the young Pole now is listened to with orchestra on this CD; he is accompanied by the venerable Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, under the direction of his countryman Jerzy Semkow.

Straightforward, unpretentious, technically brilliant, fluent and musically extremely penetrating - with these qualities one could characterize Blechacz’s playing most accurately.

Show posturing and medial external representation are to him - in contrast to other representative younger generation of pianists - strange, and what also distinguishes him from others is that he almost always make lyrical and cantabile nerves meet accurately with all virtuosity.

A difference is also present on the two concertos, in contrast to the second, the first is a live recording.
Already in the first movement, Blechacz's rapid scales and arpeggios bubbled with ease and break sound-cascades in bright, colorfully shining light. Rarely, one can hear such a beaming unison, each phrase has profile with him, the musical tension is constantly maintained.

Unfortunately, the orchestra or the conductor Semkow does not quite as confident as the soloist. Towards the end of 'Maestoso' of the second concerto, the strings carry off the tempo quite unfortunately, and otherwise is missed in all the tonal homogeneity of the dynamic impulse one way or another, and the romantic spark does not really want to jump.

That one can nevertheless be enthusiastic about the CD is consequently Blechacz' merit, that brings the coals again and again from fire with noble pianissimo, glassy attack precision and distinctive articulation and accents.

How does he do, remains his secret. But after his great triumph of the competition, he landed with his new album, the third most convincing point victory in series and thus has definitely left the danger zone of the merely promising talent.

Rather, he now moves on almost alarmingly certainly laid pianistic scene for his era.






Organizing for America posted a profile of Rafał Blechacz on its website on December 25.
Organizing for America was founded as "organization to Obama for America", the movement that elected President Obama by empowering communities across the country to bring about the agenda of change.

Blechacz's profile was posted by Lech Alex Bajanon on the organization's "Polish Americans for Barack Obama community blog page",
titled "Rafał Blechacz, the new Chopin Of Poland".  

Dec 24, 2009

Mini review of Blechacz CD Concerti (Germany)

A short review written by Ursula Strohal, posted on German site tt.com (Original review in German)
on December 20 to cover three CDs.
I'll pick up Rafał Blechacz's part only.


Spirit, emotion, desire to effect
Astonishment three times: Classic with Janine Jansen, baroque with Daniel Hope, and romance with Rafał Blechacz.

Janine Jansen "Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Concerto"...

Daniel Hope "Air"...


Similar to Jansen with Beethoven Rafał Blechacz plays with the two piano concertos by Frédéric Chopin (DG) against competitors - and surpasses many in his accuracy, technical brilliance, in the rich nuances of touch, the tenderness and the proud access.

The 24-year-old Pole, about the same age as then, Chopin, played as if inspired by the spirit and emotion of the countryman.

The Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam under Jerzy Semkow follows him fine and flexibly.





 Polish radio 2 will broadcast Blechacz's  Chopin Concerto in F minor
@ 12:25 - 13:00 on December 25.

Listen here



French site for the CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" to be released on Jan.11, 2010.
You can book now here. A bonus track (Mazurka op17-4) is also available.


The Complete Chopin Edition CDs will be launched in UK on Jan. 11, 2010.


A blog in US introduces Blechacz's CD "The Chopin Piano Concertos" and his tour in UN early next year.
Author of the blog is Chip Michael. He says he is a composer in the blogger's profile.


Release ad of CD Chopin concertos in US., to be released on Feb.23, 2010.           

Dec 22, 2009

Review of Blechacz Chopin Concerti CD (Italy)

A short review of Rafał Blechacz's CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos"
written by Girardi Enrico posted on the site of Corriere della Sera on December 20.

Corriere della Sera (Evening Courier) is an Italian daily newspaper (third in sales), published in Milan.
It is among the oldest and most reputable Italian newspapers, founded in 1876.


Original review (Italian)





Classical: Concertos by Chopin
A perfect understanding between Blechacz and Semkow



Judging from the proposed concerts and recordings, it seems that the year 2010, the bicentennial of birth of Chopin,
has already begun piece by piece.
But before the stomach is full, listening to this CD is worth doing.

Because the young winner of the prestigious' Warsaw 'Rafal Blechacz, Polish, on his debut CD,
distinguishes himself for everything that is not in fashion among the pianists who claim themselves today:

he has good technique but it is not a computer that machine-guns notes,
loves lingering with rubatos and making keyboard sing,
use the pedal gracefully,
does not consider barlines as a totem to which you need to kneel down.

In short, he plays music and does so with an excellent understanding with Jerzy Semkow, also Polish,
who directs always wonderfully Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Girardi Enrico
  

Dec 21, 2009

Happy Holidays ♪ Peace & Love.

To all the readers of Preludia:



I wish you a joyous holiday season
and all the best that the new year can bring.



Thank you for visiting and reading the blog Preludia.

My greeting card with a song


Haydn Sonata in E flat major by Rafał Blechacz
from US NPR website.
NPR selected CD "sonatas" including this Haydn as one of
the best CDs of the year 2008.
(Selected in January this year.)

Dec 20, 2009

CD Review & release news from Holland

I wrote on this blog on November 12 that "Chopin Complete Edition" played by Arrau Claudio, Argerich Martha, Pires Maria Joao, Ugorski Anatol, Ashkenazy Vladimir, Pollini Maurizio, Li Yundi, Blechacz Rafal, Zimermann Krystian, Pletnev Mikhail was published by Deutsche Grammophon.

Deutsche Grammophon site. demo listening is available.




The box of 17 CD was also launched in the Netherlands and Jan notified me of the link to NRC, the most prestigeous newspaper of the Netherlands offering the unique special album of the complete works of Frederic Chopin at the occasion of the 200 anniversary of Chopin's birthday.
(Many thanks to Jan.)

NRC site

Click on "meer information" and you see Rafal Blechacz with the Preludes between all the famous interpreters.




Review of "Chopin The Piano Concertos" posted on Platomania (Dutch). (Thanks to Jan!)
In the Netherlands, the CD was launched on October 2.

As a prelude to the Chopin Year 2010 (200tigste birth) Deutsche Grammophon presents a brand new recording of two piano concertos with young Polish Rafal Blechacz (24) on the piano and Polish conductor Jerzy Semkow for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Chopin wrote two piano concertos at around twenty, (the Second Piano Concerto was written first) when he had a happy life in Warsaw.
Shortly after that he had political reasons to change from his beloved homeland for Paris where he became completely on piano solo patron.

The two Polish musicians feel exactly the atmosphere when Chopin experienced on composing.
This recording of last July in Amsterdam is great, the soloist feels himself in one of the world's best-sounding concert halls completely in his element.    

Dec 18, 2009

Short review on Blechacz's new CD (Germany)

A short review of "Chopin The Piano Concertos" CD written by Manuel Brug as one of the new releases,
posted on Welt.de on October 8.

(I forgot to present this review here but)
this review is excerpted on Deutsche Grammophon's page for Chopin CDs played by Blechacz.

Deutsche Grammophon page for reviews of Blechacz's Chopin CDs.




Chopin: Piano Concertos (Deutsche Grammophon)
- The Chopin years 2010 (200. birthday) already raises a long shadow in Poland.
And obviously the recording by Rafal Blechacz, their Chopin Prize winner from 2006, was drawn from his piano concerto carts.
But since these two works are almost repertoire of daily bread, at least a national compulsory, it is neither unexpected nor enforced.

Blechacz, provided by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Jerzy Semkow a luxurious, discreet accompaniment foil,
plays concertos, paradoxically humble and spontaneous.

On first hearing not much remains, but the art is in details never ostentatiously exhibited.
Gently, but he is insistent on playing with rubatos, Blechacz makes itself felt,
but never presses on the sentiments and avoids placing bizarreness.
So original as a sovereign border walk – firm on the normality.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 Antoni Wit, the musical director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra talks about the orchestra's plan in the coming Chopin year 2010.
The interview was posted on netbird.pl (Polish) on December 17.

English of the interview (machine-translated)




In the interview, Wit suggests that on January 20, the orchestra will inaugurate the Chopin year at the parliament with Rafał Blechacz as a soloist.


-- Interviewer: About the concerts to be held in the Chopin Year which are not yet mentioned in the current plan of Philharmonic.

-- Antoni Wit: On January 20 inauguration of the Year of Chopin will be held in the parliament (Sejm). Soloist will be Rafał Blechacz. It was agreed to play a concerto in the same scene, in which we executed in August, "Requiem" by Mozart, which met with great acclaim and interest not only from the parliament, but - through television - virtually the whole society. Therefore, I am very pleased that such an inauguration shared by Rafał Blechacz was proposed.


(As of today, Deutsche Grammophon's concert schedule page for Blechacz says that he will play a recital in Bydgoszcz on Jan.20.)

(The fact was that on Jan.20, 2010, Piotr Paleczny was the soloist for the inauguration concert at the parliament. )     

Dec 17, 2009

Blechacz' sound like a 3-D film (review, Germany)

Review written by Werner Fritsch who has listed CDs recently released by five prominent European pianists
including Rafał Blechacz.
Fritsch gave Blechacz the highest evaluation.
I picked up Blechacz's part only.
The review was posted on several German sites on December 16.

Original review (German)



Farewell to the priesthood
Spontaneous, emotional, masterly:
Five young pianists to show where the piano art has arrived today




Already an all-round perfect pianist at 24 years old: Rafał Blechacz,
who has recorded two Chopin concertos.


by Werner Fritsch

Previously everything was better. Really? At least this opinion circulated among many classical music lovers when it comes to the art of piano playing. Martin Stadtfeld (29) protested against constant comparisons with older stars such as Martha Argerich and Maurizio Pollini lately or even with long-dead piano heroes like Svjatoslaw Richter and Wilhelm Kempff.

And rightly so. Because young pianists play differently from previous generations. With all individual differences they have in common: freer and freer emotional playing - the high priesthood of the music is alien to them.

However, there is no linear progress: Admittedly recordings of young pianists often sound fresher and more immediate than their predecessors. Technically, however, not all have grown by no means like the legendary piano stars such as Martha Argerich and Emil Gilels.

Three young Chinese pianists have recently caused a stir: Lang Lang, Yundi Li and Yuja Wang stand for the Eastern Piano miracle. Apart from them, however, a generation of young piano artists from Europe distinguishes itself. We present five outstanding young artists who are currently on the market with interesting albums.


Martin Stadtfeld:(.....)
Der junge Beethoven. Sony Classical. ★★★★☆


Rafał Blechacz:
As a first pole since Krystian Zimerman in 1975, Rafał Blechacz (24), four years ago won the Warsaw Chopin Competition.
And he has the stuff to be a piano superstar.
His third CD is devoted to the two Chopin piano concertos – he was about the same age when he composed the Concertos of virtuoso.
Blechacz has everything on it, what distinguishes this music.

His sonically supremely fine, technically crystal-clear playing is so transparent in the rhythmical overlapping layers that it seems like a 3-D shooting in the context of two-dimensional film works.

Perfectly accompanied by the Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Jerzy Semkow, Blechacz with his wonderfully freely shaped interpretation of beautiful agogics has catapulted himself in the pianistic Olympus.

Rafał Blechacz:

Chopin. The piano Concertos. Deutsche Grammophon ★★★★★

Mihaela Ursuleasa:(.....)
Piano & Forte. Edel Classics. ★★★★☆

Nikolai Tokarev:(.....)
Romantische Klavierkonzerte, Sony Classics. ★★★☆☆

Dina Ugorskaja:(.....)
G. F. Händel. Suites für Piano, Avi-Music, BR-Klassik. ★★★★☆
    

Dec 14, 2009

Famous persons appreciate Blechacz' work (Poland)

Followings are contribution by Beata and Dana (Poland) who found two interviews in a magazine
where interviewees mention about Rafał Blechacz.
Many thanks to them♪ 


An excerpt from monthly "Twoja Muza", an interview with Prof. Maria Murawska, Rector of The Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, titled "The youngest Music Academy is 35 years old".

Interviewer: Until recently, The Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz has been often described as the youngest music university in the country. Rafał Blechacz’s victory in the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition. in 2005 changed the perception of the Academy.

Prof. Murawska answers: With full involvement of many wonderful people in the activities, the Academy took a worthy place among Polish art schools. Success by Rafał Blechacz and his teacher, prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń contributed decisively to strengthen this position.

"Do niedawna bydgoska Akademia Muzyczna okreslana byla czesto jako najmlodsza w kraju uczelnia muzyczna. Zwyciestwo Rafala Blechacza w XV Miedzynarodowym Konkursie Pianistycznym im. Fryderyka Chopina w 2005 roku zmienilo sposob postrzegania kierowanej przez pania Akademii.
Prof. Murawska odpowiada: "Dzieki pelnej zaangazowania dzialalnosci wielu wspanialych ludzi Akademia zajela godne miejsce wsrod polskich uczelni artystycznych. Sukces Rafala Blechacza oraz jego pedagoga, prof. Katarzyny Popowej-Zydron w sposob decydujacy przyczynil sie do umocnienia tej pozycji."



The Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz




Another segment from an interview with Polish singer Irena Santor, well known and popular among the elder generation, titled, "The soul must be in singing"

Recently I am a great admirer of Rafał Blechacz, particularly Mazurkas in his execution. He plays these Mazurkas, opus 56 in particular, in a way that I hear them with jazz harmonies. It is a magnificent interpretation. I love his mazurkas above everything else!
In the past I loved hearing Hesse-Bukowska, because her mazurkas are like thatched roofs, you feel these odors, calm, rural setting of the Polish countryside, and then beautiful mazurkas played by Adam Harasiewicz. And now Blechacz "nailed me to the wall."

Ostatnio jestem wielka wielbicielka Rafala Blechacza, a zwlaszcza mazurkow w jego wykonaniu. On te mazurki, szczegolnie z opusu 56 gra tak, ze slysze w nich harmonie jazzowa. To wspaniala interpretacja. Kocham nad zycie te jego mazurki! Kiedys lubilam słuchać Hesse-Bukowskiej, bo jej mazurki sa takie spod strzechy, czuje sie w nich zapachy, spokoj sielskiej polskiej wsi, a potem pieknie mazurka gral Adam Harasiewicz. A teraz Blechacz "przybil mnie do sciany".     

Blechacz CD Chopin Concertos US release Feb.23

Yesterday I posted the link to the blog "The Well Tempered Ear" written by Jacob Stockinger,
an American professor and former editor of The Capital Times newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin
who touched uopn Blechacz's CD "sonatas".


I left a comment on his blog and he replied it impressively quickly.
He said in the reply comment that Blechacz's new CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos"
will be officially launched in US market on February 23, 2010,
although European import version is already available on-line.




It is a good timing.
Feb.23 is the following day of (officially documented) birthday of Chopin
(when Blechacz inaugurates the Special Chopin Birthday Week by playing the concerto in F minor at Warsaw Philharmonic Hall)
and just a few days before Blechacz begins touring in North America.

As far as I know, Blechacz will give concerts in US between Feb.26 and March 6 and
his itinerary includes a special recital at the United Nations Headquarters in NY on March 1,
the day of birthday as claimed by Chopin.

 Read the article and comment on the Well Tempered Ear.


Reading about your favorite artist written by someone in different environment is quite interesting,
because what you'll find is, as far as music is concerned, the shared value, not a difference among people.


Jacob Stockinger writes;
"I also very much liked his debut album of Chopin’s Preludes and two late Nocturnes.
He seems a great young Chopinist, no?"



Absolutely Rafał's Chopin is superb.
Personally, however, I'm reluctant to characterize him a Chopinist;
I also love pieces of other composers played by him.
His Mozart is terrific in particular.
And Bach....You'll have opportunities to listen to his Bach Partita in B-flat Major, No. 1 in concerts next year.

Several venues hosting his concerts next year have announced recital program.
(Example: Program @ Milan Jan.26, 2010.)
J.S. Bach - Partita n. 1 in si bemolle maggiore BWV 825
W.A. Mozart - Sonata in si bemolle maggiore K 570
C. Debussy - Pour le piano
F. Chopin - Scherzo n. 1 in si minore op. 20
F. Chopin - 3 Mazurche op. 50
F. Chopin - Polonaise-Fantaisie in la bemolle maggiore op. 61

Chopin's pieces in the 2nd half of recital differ, depending on the venue.

(Example: NY, Feb.26)
Bach—Partita in B-flat Major, No. 1
Mozart—Sonata in B flat Major, K.570
Debussy—Pour le piano
Chopin—Ballade No. 3 in A flat Major, Opus 47
Chopin—Scherzo in B minor, Op. 20
Chopin—Polonaise fantasie in A-flat Major, Opus 61
(Thanks to Roman for a reminder.)

The program structure doesn't apply to Japan where all-Chopin recitals are scheduled.

See concert schedules (1)(2)

Please be noted that the planned program is subject to change.    

Dec 13, 2009

American cultural editor remarks on Blechacz' CD

Jacob Stockinger, Adjunct Associate Professor of The Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC) at the University of Wisconsin, the former arts and culture desk editor at The Capital Times newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin cites Rafał Blechacz's CD "sonatas" in his blog "The Well-Tempered Ear" as of December 13, 2009.

Stockinger posted the complete list of the classical music nominees for the 52nd annual Grammy Awards on December 7, and then he named several noteworthy CDs that are missing from the complete list on December 13.
Blechacz's CD "sonatas" is one of them.

  

Dec 12, 2009

Internal self proves true genius-Blechacz' Chopin

Review of "Welt Edition: 1.Polnische Seele im Exil (Polish soul in exile)" (←demo is available),

recordings of Chopins works played by Lang Lang, Jean-Marc Luisada, Rafał Blechacz, Adam Harasiewicz, Tamás Vásáry, Hélène Grimaud, Ivo Pogorelich, Daniel Barenboim and Anatol Ugorski,

reviewed by Volker Blech,
posted on WELT.de on December 4, 2009.

The CD includes the Prelude in D flat major "Raindrop" played by Blechacz.

Original review (German)





A seven-CD series, selected by the editors of Kulturredaktion, WELT and Deutsche Grammophon on the occasion of the 200th Birthday of Frédéric Chopin in the spring of 2010


“Hats off, gentlemen, a genius” a music critic of early twenties wrote about Frédéric Chopin in 1831. That critic named Robert Schumann recognized his colleague as an exuberant genius. But can a composer, who actually is tied only with a single instrument, the piano, be a genius at all? The Argentine-born pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, whose deromanticized Interpretation (1982) introduced the famous Nocturne in E flat major on this CD, has never dealt with this name lightly. Because what one can recognize is a genius in the end? It must be, Barenboim once said in a conversation, he has been always something that developed such an effect on music history, in which he has been so and not otherwise?

Undoubtedly, Chopin’s gift, his virtuoso music changed the piano world decisively. And the effect of his music continues unabated until the present day: Every piano student in order to be an internationally acclaimed virtuoso - some of the most prominent among them are gathered on this disc - must be gauged by Chopin.

It belongs to the strange observations that geniuses usually don't awaken in the metropolises spoiled with offers but in the seclusion, in the province, at the periphery of the music-business. Chopin certainly doesn’t come from a great musical nation, and to this day he remains the only internationally operative Polish composer. However, he felt drawn into an important music-center, namely to Paris, someday. However, there were other informal reasons. The composer born on March 1, 1810 in Żelazowa Wola near Warsaw, during a concert-trip in Germany, startled over the news of the rebellion, in Poland in 1831, decided to go to Paris. His father had once emigrated from France to Poland. Chopin, the ardent patriot finally died in 1849 in Paris, too young, wrestling with his homesickness.

This feeling culminated his work, especially through the use of the Polish people’s assets mainly in the dance pieces such as Mazurkas. An example is provided by the Hungarian pianist Tamás Vásáry with his melancholy recording of the famous A minor Mazurka of 1965.

The Mazurka also appears in the finale of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor again. The concerto shows at the piano, Chopin's enormous creative energy which stretches far beyond explosive feelings of miniatures, and also draws attention to his limits as a composer - the orchestral treatment is clearly takes second place to the piano part.

A masterpiece, whose heart is in the slow movement. The F minor Larghetto is an unfulfilled love (supposedly dedicated to the singer Konstancja Gladkowska). Chinese Lang Lang, a foster child of the pianist Barenboim, like his teacher separates from the biographical musical. The work must speak for themselves. Lang Lang's interpretation of 2008, which was created in cooperation with the Vienna Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, puts a priority on a brilliantly staged picture between fragility and rebellion rather than mysterious overtones.

Another notable observation also implies that a genius is always attracted to aother genius. Chopin's Preludes Opus 28 were unthinkable without Johann Sebastian Bach, whose “Well-Tempered Clavier”, he could play by heart. The Croatian pianist Ivo Pogorelić leads the A-major Prelude from the most virtuoso restlessness (1990).

By contrast Rafał Blechacz presents the D-flat major Prelude with all the outbursts and striking saloon posturing, but also in great simplicity recovered (2007). The young Pole has Chopin’s feelings inside him. The true genius always grows out of inwardness (Innerlichkeit).






This review reminded me of another review of Blechacz's recital in Naples, Italy, in Feb. 2008, where the reviewer (he is also a pianist) was impressed by a spontaneous reaction from the audience.

".....the Preludes are Chopin's most significant and emblematic work. Blechacz...taking out individual songs to make them shine in a perfect mosaic, with all the pieces in place as one unit.
There were also moments of rare beauty, with smooth singing, speaking of one of the most famous preludes "Raindrop" which sparked spontaneous applause from the audience during the performance and Blechacz responded with a smile..."

Original review (Italian)


"Hatts off!" to Chopin Preludes op. 28-14 & 15 by Blechacz.
@ Recording session of "Complete Preludes", in Hamburg, July 2007.
[parts:eNozsDJkhAMmJhMjUyZjU2NGJgszSyPTNEuLpLK8dI/UTNfwYkcmGDA2xS4P1czEhKQSAPFZEAo=]


In commemoration of 200th birthday of Chopin, various events are planned and special recordings are published in many countries.
This CD is one of the examples.
I'll introduce examples of Latin America later. 

Dec 11, 2009

Pundit recommends Blechacz's Concerto CD (UK)

In "The New CD Show" by Classic FM, a UK radio program,
David Mellor, the host, reviews the latest classical CD releases every Saturday at 5pm, including his pick of the Best CD and other recommended CDs that you must own.

He will recommend Rafał Blechacz's CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" in the program on December 12.

Program page of December 12.
If you reside in UK, you can listen to the program.


David Mellor
Host "The New CD Show" on Saturday evenings, reviewing all the latest classical CD releases
and to expand our musical horizons with 'If You Liked That, You'll Like This' on Sunday's.
Both shows are still going strong.

Practiced barrister until 1981,
Member of Parliament from 1979 to 1997, a Government Minister from 1981 to 1992.

Newspaper and magazine columnist,
heads the Government's Football Taskforce.
Former member of the Board of English National Opera, and a former Trustee of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Also a council member of the National Youth Orchestra.  

Dec 10, 2009

German/French TVs will air documentary on Blechacz

Arte/ZDF, French/German TVs will air Victor Grandits' documentary about Rafał Blechacz in MAESTRO series
on Sunday, March 7, 2010.

Details will follow.



Appreciation to Roman Frackowski for the good news♪    

Dec 8, 2009

Blechacz interviewed on his car (spring, 2006)

Rafał Blechacz interviewed about his car @ a dealer shop in Bydgoszcz in spring, 2006.

I found this Polish article early last year.
It is unique in that main questions are about the car and on-board audio system.

Please be aware that the interview took place more than two and half years ago.
Some of the contents are outdated.

---------------
Completely dedicated to music - interview with Rafał Blechacz

interviewed by Krzysztof Golec (Gazeta Pomorska, AutoFlesz)

Rafał Blechacz, winner XV International Chopin Competition, is a brilliant pianist without doubt.
Studies on III years at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz,
as well as concerts and tours led the winner to make the decision to purchase the first car of his own.
Recently, the pianist picked up the latest Toyota Avensis in a show room in Bydgoszcz.
On this ocasion, the talented artist was asked for an interview.



Q: Why do you chose Toyota from among many brands in the Polish market?

A: Contrary to appearance, it is a difficult question to answer.
I do not know the automobile well.
I knew, however, that a Toyota car is enjoyable, reliable and safe
(Note. - the maximum amount of 5 stars in crash-test Euro NCAP, the highest points gained).

Q: In December last year, you released a CD from Accord.
Someone says it looks like Honda...

A: Indeed, but it was absolutely nothing to do with the Honda Accord.

Q: Did you have any experience with other brands?

A: Yes, but it has been only two years since I obtained the driving lisence.
So far, I have driven with dad Renault for a few years, which, although operaing correctly, did not meet my expectations during the concert trail.

Q: I know that in your case, the argument of higher diesel prices does not play a greater role.
Why, therefore, did you choose Gasoline 2.0 VVT-i and a combo version?

A: I took the decision jointly with dad, who has s a much richer experience in this field.
I know, however, the one that we used in Poland is not the highest quality and can cause problems, especially in winter.
Driving the latest Avensis for a short time, I can already say that it was a felicitous choice.

For tours, I bring scores and a lot of baggage, so the choice of the large luggage compartment version seems to be obvious.

Q: Please therefore assess the latest Toyota from the viewpoint of a customer in Bydgoszcz shop.

A: Actually I'm positively surprised by this car.
It drives smooth and pleasantly, and it is quite quiet in the middle.
For me, however, another important factors are, good handling in the cabin, large trunk and accessories, and audio.
The Avensis in this show room meet all these characteristics.
If I have already indicated to weaknesses, they relate only to the rear blinds, because it is related to irritating sounds.



Q: Let's talk about music and, therefore, car-audio systems.
Which audio system do you consider most important?

A: Some emphasize the amplifier, others speaker, still others believe that each of the elements of the audio should be good.
I would accept the opinion emphasizing sophisticated speakers.

If I answer the previous question, evaluating the audio system of Avensis,iIt's really very good
(Note: - based on the 4-channel amplifier, 40 wat with DSP digital signal transducer Panasonic)
and fully meets my requirements for the reproduction of sound in the car.
What I knew from Toyota dealer was that the system was specially designed for Toyota,
in order to achieve a sophisticated sound at the concert hall.

Q: The technology-car audio also highlights the importance of connecting cables made from oxygen-free copper cable.
I'm always interested in making the question to outstanding pianists - whether or not he can distinguish the differences in sound quality transmitted by various audio cables.
Can you hear?

A: Yes. If I can hear, it means that the high value of the element in acoustic link is not inappropriately accentuated.
(←sorry, I don't understand this part.
The original Polish is "Jeśli ja to słyszę, to znaczy, że wysoka cena za ten element ogniwa akustycznego nie jest bezpodstawnie akcentowana.")
It is like the piano, from among many similar performances, I can hear differences.

Q: I know that you have absolute hearing from God and unprecedented ability to distinguish sounds.
Typically, a man hears in terms of frequency of 40 Hz - 15 kHz. What about you, Rafal Blechacz?

A: I have absolute congenital hearing and hear all the piano keys.
I never studied my hearing for infrasoud and ultrasound ranges
(Note:- the lowest and highest frequency),
but probably I can hear sounds at frequencies from 12 Hz - 18 kHz.

Q: It is almost like bats hearing in the lower range from 1 Hz.
Now, for automotive industry, please evaluate the Avensis according to the proposed scale of 1-6:
design, engine and gearbox, equipment and guarantee security and audio equipment.

A: Do not ask me such questions, but I will try to respond as briefly as possible.

Design - I like it very much: 6; engine - quiet and dynamic: 6,
equipment and guarantee - complete: 6, security - of 5 stars: 6,
comfort - as in an airplane: 6, car-audio - almost concert hall: 6

Q: It's a very high assessment.
O.K., another questions. What music is the winner of the Chopin competition interested in?

A: Serious music fulfills me.
I do not have favorite bands, however, sometimes I like to listen to songs performed by Garou.
My mom loves Rod Stewart, and so I tolerate it.
Significantly, however, I do not listen to heavy metal bands, the music is too loud for me.

In preparation for the Chopin Competition, I ran a lot in order to improve the health condition.
However, I 'll never practice to achieve as a sport.

Q: Which piano do you play in concerts?

A: Mostly Steinway and Yamaha.
At home, I practice with Yamaha model C3.
Shortly, I will be able to have Steinway that I dreamed of, funded by PKN ORLEN; this will be a model B.

Q: Apparently Jacek Kortus, the youngest finalist of the Chopin competition, lost the grand piano. You took an unprecedented gesture to give Yamaha, the prize for the winner to this talented pianist ...

A: Yes, that's correct.

Q: What is most important for you in life?

A: Appreciate the sincerity and naturalness.
I met so far many sympathetic people who helped me in achieving success.
I owe a great deal to parents.
Apparently I have the talent and luck to good teachers.
The first were the parents and Professor Jacek Polanski,
now Mrs. Professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń from the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz.

I appreciate valuable comments by the undisputed authorities.
One of them is Krystian Zimerman.
After the Chopin Competition, I got a fax from him to show his original message: "From now on your life, like me 30 years ago, will be divided into before and after the competition."

Q: Which places are you going to perform in?

A: I will not hide, completely dedicated to music.
Chopin is the inspiration for me to continue working.

I am leaving on a scheduled concerts soon to Moscow, a little later to Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya). Some discussions are ongoing of concert dates in Canada and Switzerland.

Q: Thank you for the interview.

original interview (Polish)

↑If this link does not connect, you can see this Polish blog to get Polish text.


--------
For me, the most interesting part was about the frequency range that Blechacz hears. (←astonished)

Some language experts argue that the skill in learning non-native languages is related to the frequency scope that you can hear.
(Parts of frequency range of spoken language is unique to each of the different languages.)
If Blechacz has a wider audible range, it could mean that he is also talented for acquiring non-native languages.

Also, what amused me a lot was the part: "My mom loves Rod Stewart, and so I tolerate it".

When I was a university student, I remember Rod Stewart toured in Japan.
I liked him (not an enthusiast) but he was so popular that I could not obtain his concert ticket in Tokyo,
so I went to Nagoya.
(From Tokyo to Nagoya, it is about 100 minutes with the Shinkansen super express train,
but the poor student could not afford it and took a local train, taking 10 hours!
In the silliness of my tender years...)

Dec 7, 2009

Blechacz, excellent cook with seventh sense

Following fragment was written by Maestro Jerzy Maksymiuk (English) (Polish) for "Charaktery" ( Charakters ), Polish psychological monthly magazine,
titled "In search of tastes".
In the article, the conductor remembers Christmas Day in his childhood and then he compares art of cooking to music.


I received the article and links from Dana who put the Polish article into English after getting it from her friend Beata who found the article.

Let me thank the two ladies in Poland who really love music presented by Rafał Blechacz.







“....Many people cook but only a few have the seventh sense to hit upon an idea to coat vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce with a one drop of rum, they give "something" to pickles so that we enjoy them.

The same we can say about taste of music. A good cooking of music develops better taste. A good cook of music will prepare a heavenly dish and a gourmet of music fully appreciates it.

And yet, although all similarities are between them, art leads us to a higher level. After a good dish you can lick your lips, you say even sometimes "a heaven in mouth" but here on the earth you can be in heaven just thanks to art.

On Christmas when my guests already go home I will be listening to recordings of Rafał Blechacz.

For me now he is a model of impeccable taste like Dinu Lipatti.  At once I noticed that his "diamond" way of playing is amazing but I needed some time to enchant the emotional clarity of his art. I will be enchanted ..."



"Tylu ludzi gotuje, a tylko nieliczni siodmym zmyslem wpadaja na pomysl, zeby waniliowe lody polac sosem malinowym z kropla rumu, a do marynat tez dodaja cos, co sprawia, ze doznajemy przyjemnosci niebezpiecznej dla naszych gabarytow. Wiele podobnego mozna powiedziec o smaku muzycznym. Dobra kuchnia muzyczna wyrabia lepszy smak. Dobry kucharz muzyczny uwarzy niebianskie danie. A muzyczny smakosz w pelni to doceni.
A jednak, mimo wszystkich podobienstw, sztuka prowadzi nas wyzej. Po dobrym daniu mozemy sie oblizac, mowimy czasem nawet "niebo w gebie", ale tu, na ziemi, mozemy znalezc sie w niebie tylko dzieki sztuce. W te swieta, gdy juz goscie pojda, bede wiec sluchal nagran Rafala Blechacza. Teraz to dla mnie wzor nieskazitelnego smaku, podobnie jak Dinu Lipatti. Od razu dostrzeglem zadziwiajaca, brylantowa” technike Blechacza, ale poniewaz sam czesto deformuje, potrzebowalem czasu, zeby sie zachwycic czystoscia emocjonalna jego sztuki. Bede sie zachwycal.”



Last year, Blechacz tounched upon a memory with Maestro Maksymiuk when interviewed by Gazeta Wyborcza (Polish).
English summary of the interview.        

Dec 6, 2009

The most beautiful Chopin by R. Blechacz (Holland)

Following review was sent to me by Jan in Holland who says,
"A contribution from Holland to all already good reviews" of Rafał Blechacz's new CD.
Jan found the article and put it into English.
Let me extend my deepest appreciation to him.





The CD of Rafał with the two piano concertos is reviewed and is among the best 10 of the latest Luister edition.

Luister.nl latest edition page (Dutch)

Translation of the text at the recommenation page::

This performance of both piano concertos of Chopin is not only one of the slow ones, but also one of the most beautiful.
The approach is quietly and pleasant in appearance and is also powerful and coherent in depth.



Translation of the full review in “Luister”
Performance: 5 stars (highest)     Registration: 4 stars

This performance of both pianoconcertos of Chopin is not only one of the slow ones, that I know, but also one of the most beautiful.
It is one of the slow ones in which the piece is not crumbled and where the conductor integrates the orchestra as an essential part of the composition.

Blechacz convinces also by his fascinating way of making the implicit polyphony so explicit without disturbing the balance between the inner and outer layers, giving all space to details on one side, with holding the grand movement lines on the other side.

The conductor and the soloist clearly opt for a friendly and modest approach.
The gentleness prevails at the moments the soloist is in silence and the orchestra can give full scope.

The presence of the public is totally inaudible in spite of “live recording” on the label: more over only a certain proof of impressive spontaneity betrays the audience.
The difference between the two concertos is minim.

More important: the approach is quietly and pleasant in appearance and is also powerful and coherent in depth, never crumbling in beauty.
Emanuel Overbeke

 On this page of Luister, you find the track of the edtion with the Raindrop Prelude with Rafał Blechacz.
(Rafał drew the attention of the editors already)

The description says:
"The Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, the convincing winner of the 2005 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, took all of Chopin's Preludes for Deutsche Grammophon. His Chopin playing is praised for its elegance, refinement and poetic expressiveness".



Dutch reviews of Blechacz's live performance at Amsterdam Concertgebouw for the recording on July 2.
(1) (2) (3) (4)

       

Dec 5, 2009

Leading critics highly praise Rafał Blechacz (Japan)(4)

From “Excellent CDs of Classical Music – Volume for Musicians”,
Akiyasu Fukushima's thoughts on Rafał Blechacz's recording.

Akiyasu Fukushima:
Born in 1962. Graduated from Department of vocal music, Toho Gakuen University School of Music.
Music critic and conductor of choir.
Author of music books.

----------------------------------------


He is often referred to as the first Pole who won the Chopin Competition in 30 years since Zimerman,
but his performance style is on the opposite extreme of spectrum to Zimerman’s.
Zimerman is a perfectionist and narcissist. My impression of him when I listened to him playing firsthand at his recital in May this year was that he is always conscious of how he is seen.

Blechacz, on the contrary, simply gives pure music.
He never puts up a bluff so I even feel that he is too unpretentious.
He never acts important.
Needless to say, he is flawless technically.
Furthermore, the finely-honed sensitivity and freshness of rousing pleasure that is naturally welling up
inspire the listeners.
It’s miraculous that we have a pianist like him born and lives with us now.

“Piano Recital” is a recording in April 2005, six months before the Chopin Competition.
All the pieces on the disc – Sonata No.2 in G minor by R. Schumann, Suite Bergamasque by C. Debussy,
Variations in B flat minor by K. Szymanowski – are genuine music without any exaggeration.

“Chopin Competition Live I & II” are documentary about a young man of pure heart indifferent to vanity or ambition, depicting the very moving story that he eventually reached the very top.
How his music was captivating audience’s hearts can be felt.


Chopin Competition Live I


“sonatas-haydn, mozart, beethoven”, a CD that Uno-sensei (sensei=teacher) highly recommends,
contains refined repertoire, not catering to commercial interest,
representing Blechacz’s conscience as an artist.

He provides fine performances for Haydn and Beethoven.
And when listening to the 2nd movement of Mozart’s sonata k.311, I feel as if I’ve personally come across the heart of Mozart who sheds tears with a smile.
My heart is too full for words.

Listen to Mozart sonata k311 2nd movement played by Blechacz. (Video)


From Rafał Blechacz's note on CD "sonatas"
"Mozart's Sonata in D major, K. 311, showcases his always original, indeed unique, pianistic style, with its distinct references to his operatic and symphonic music.
The use of achingly beautiful vocal themes in the second movement is exceptionally moving and calming, and clearly shows that opera was Mozart's greatest love.
I feel that the middle movement is often the "heart" of a work.
It is the place where the composer, as well as the performer, takes the opportunity to reveal in sound everything lurking in the deepest reaches of his soul.
He is free to articulate everything while still leaving it nameless".
(Rafał Blechacz)


-----------------------------------------------------
Mr.Fukushima's evaluation: ★★★★★

"Piano Recital"  Performance ★★★★★  Recording ★★★★☆

"Chopin Competition Live I & II" Performance ★★★★☆  Recording ★★★★☆

"sonatas-haydn, mozart, beethoven"  Performance ★★★★★  Recording ★★★★☆


Chopin Competition Live II


Koho Uno's thoughts on Blechacz.
Takeshi Nakano's thoughts on Blechacz.


**
The three critics have highly evaluated Blechacz’s recordings and it is not always the case when they write of other artists. It seems that Uno has the biggest voice in selecting artists to be discussed in this book. But the other two are never yes-man and for several artists, there is a total disagreement among the three.

Overall, with the three distinctive perspectives, this book provides a well-balanced guide for listeners to refer to. Personally, I like the approach taken by Fukushima who thoroughly studies subject artists and recordings, looking at works/artists with polyphonic and honest viewpoints. He describes reviews with simple and plain words.

As for Fazil Say, the fact was that Uno was deeply impressed by Say’s recent live performances of Haydn and Mozart in Tokyo while his recorded performances on CD of the same composers were boring. (Uno gives only one star to his Haydn sonatas on CD).
I hope Uno will attend Blechacz’s concert. I’m interested in how he will be impressed by the sparkling “live mode” offered by Blechacz.

Dec 4, 2009

Polish Consulate site on Blechacz Hamburg recital

From website of Consulate General of Poland in Hamburg, reporting the success of Rafał Blechacz in the recital in Hamburg on October 6, 2009.

Original article (Polish)

English (machine-translated)
straightforward and easy to understand.




Reviews of Blechacz's recital in Hamburg.



German WDR 3 will air Chopin Concerto in F minor from Blechacz's new CD in its program WDR 3 Klassik Forum
9:08 - 12:00 on December 11   


Dec 1, 2009

Blechacz "sonatas" recording of year,UK site

MusicWeb International of U.K.,a privately operated website for music reviews selected "recordings of the year 2009".

Rafał Blechacz's "sonatas-haydn, mozart, beethoven" was selected as one of the best recordings by Colin Clarke.
(Please scroll down to about one-third from the top of the page.)

Clarke says;
Rafael Blechacz is one of the most exciting pianists around today, and this disc only serves to underline his stature.


In the same page, Patrick Lam, another reviewer says;
(Please scroll down to near the bottom of the page.)

"If I was asked to select two recordings of Chopin Piano Concerti released from 2009 that champion themselves with the highest artistic and technical standards, Blechacz's (DG) and this one by Sa Chen (Pentatone) certainly reign at the tip of the Everest."


Read Colin Clarke's review of "sonatas" in detail.

Nov 29, 2009

Leading critics highly praise Blechacz (Japan) (3)

From "Excellent CDs of Classical Music – Volume for Musicians",
Koho Uno's thoughts on Rafał Blechacz's recording.

Read Takeshi Nakano's thoughts on Blechacz's recordings.


Koho Uno:
Born in 1930. Graduated from Dept. of vocal music, Kunitachi College of Music.
Music critic, conductor.
Author of many books of music. 





---------------------------------------

It seems that I have a keen nose for a musician;
with Richard Goode some years ago and Fazil Say more recently, guided by something mysterious, I went to their concerts although I was in a situation which would never allow me to be there because of job or health condition.

This was also the case with Rafał Blechacz.
I didn’t know why but one day a CD by a pianist whose name I hadn’t heard caught my eyes and it urged me to "listen to it immediately".
I felt I must follow the voice and began listening.
The first movement of Mozart’s Sonata k.311 made me astounded.
It was really something!!

With comfortable tempo of allegro, his exhilarating brilliant, charming and matched tones are enjoyably dancing about.
I have never ever heard a pianist with such natural and marvelously even finger flows.

Technically, he is an unusually proficient pianist! That’s said, he is never unexpressive or monotonous, rather gets perfect score for sophisticated good taste.
More than anything else, his finest sensitivity when playing pianississimo is electrifying and drove me crazy.
Usually I like to listen to the music with the possible highest volume; but for Blechacz, I lowered the volume remarkably not to compromise his delicate, exquisite tones.

Later I came to know that this pianist won the 2005 Chopin International Piano Competition.
I talked about this to Ms. Yukiko Hagiya and she said,

“Today it is difficult not to know Rafał Blechacz. I believe you are the only one who doesn’t know him, Uno-sensei,” she smiled.
(sensei= teacher, professor)

So what? It doesn’t matter whether or not I know him. I don’t care if he is the winner of the big prize. I don’t care if he is famous or not.

For me it took only the first 30 seconds to understand the phenomenal technique and musicality Blechacz has. It doesn’t take his achievements or name. Let alone opinions of other people.
What I trust is my ears only. What matters is the music per se.

-----------------------------

Mr.Koho Uno's evaluation: ★★★★☆

Mozart Piano Sonata No.9 k.311: performance ★★★★★   recording ★★★★★

"sonatas-haydn, mozart, beethoven": performance ★★★★☆  recording ★★★★★



**To be continued. Next installment will be Mr.Akiyasu Fukushima's thoughts on Blechacz.   

Nov 27, 2009

Review of Blechacz CD Chopin Concertos (Spain)

A review of Rafał Blechacz's CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" written by Cosme Marina, posted on La Nueva España, an independent daily in Asturias (northern Spain) on December 2, 2009.

Original review (Spanish)

The renovated Chopin by Blechacz

The aesthetic freedom of a young interpreter

In the history of piano literature the figure of the Polish composer Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) occupies a central place. The romantic piano is without doubt one of the most fertile periods of the instrument and Chopin’s standard from the conception of imaginative proposals continues to attract and excite successive generations of music lovers.

The world of the piano is one of the most complex musical fabric as much or more than the song. And the interpretation of the great writers is a matter of enormous importance and significance.

More so in the case of the Polish composer who requires high levels of expressive refinement. You cannot ignore that in the emergence of more furious Romanticism, the keyboard became an incredible vehicle for individual creative expression which was upgraded to reach a maximum potentiality.

Hence, for authors who occupies our mind, a mere exercise of virtuosity serves rather little. Or frankly not at all.

Chopin configured a particular creative universe in which his two concertos for piano and orchestra became important issues in his career. They are works in which classical architecture wears a romantic spirit where shines the deep emotion that surrounds his musical ideas.

His music has been approached by many. Those who leave footprint are less, and in our days, it is difficult to find interpreters who provide substance when approaching Chopin’s legacy, despite the extreme toughness and competitiveness with which pianists are forced to live. Perhaps the cause of the shortage is in the hastiness and the dizzying pace with which young performers are thrown to the cycle, maipulated mercilessly by the multinationals. The careers take time to mature, with successes and mistakes.





Rafał Blechacz won the Chopin Prize in 2005 and since then, has maintained an international career in the elite who have, in fact, Chopin's music as one of their strengths.

Now the impression is that he holds the rein of his career and his plans are cared well and rested. Blechacz publishes now for Deutsche Grammophon Chopin’s two concertos with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Jerzy Semkow.

His two versions are very interesting, vibrant, full of vigor and, at the same time, thoughtful, not impulsive.

In Blechacz’s interpretation, aesthetic freedom can be perceived that fits very well with the lyricism of Chopin. This album shows a good example of the maturity of the Polish pianist at the keyboard in the artistically honest work seeking for the profoundness way above the immediate shortcut.

Blechacz has a long career ahead, and given his current situation, he should go further, to be embedded as one of the leaders of the piano. Enjoying his Chopin is now a pleasant exercise full of suggestions and nuances in which you can hear and have a glimpse of his projection.




---------------------------------------

A short comment on the U.K.site (TV&Showbiz)
Scroll down to the bottom.

"Being Polish and a Chopin Competition winner, Rafal Blechacz is going to find himself playing a lot of Chopin. These are beautiful performances, but I noticed more 'spontaneous' touches in the studio recording of the F minor Concerto than in the live version of the E minor. **** "

(Author is not specified.) 

Nov 26, 2009

Review of Blechacz new CD (South Africa)

Review posted on the site of Classic fM, South African radio station, on November 26.
↓ Copy of the review


CHOPIN – RAFAL BLECHACZ
The Piano Concertos
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Jerzy Semkow – Conductor
Deutsche Grammophon CD 00289 8088

“Blechacz’s approach was supple and stayed poised and focused even in the heat of the first movement’s development. There is nothing contrived about his playing; he seems utterly instinctive, with a wonderfully natural sense of rubato through the long-spun phrases of the slow movement, and exuberance kept perfectly in check in the finale.” The Guardian, London (review of the E minor Concerto)

“The perfect musician to perform the young Chopin’s works…”
Gazeta Wyborcza Poland.

After the tremendous success of the previous two albums (Chopin – The Complete Preludes and Sonatas – Haydn, Mozart & Beethoven) Blechacz decided to celebrate the coming year of Chopin in 2010 (the 200th anniversary of his birth) by the recording of both Piano Concertos. By now, it is fairly well accepted that Poland has not produced a pianist of this stature since the times of Artur Rubinstein and as a Chopin specialist he is already in a class of his own.

Chopin was only 19 years of age when he composed the two concertos, it was during a happy time in his life when he was still living in Warsaw with family and friends. Both the opening movements are full of energy and youthful vigour, while the closing movements are optimistic and full of joy. In both concertos the lyrical second movements are the heart and soul of the works demanding taxing expressive abilities.

This is a marvellous recording/ performance with no trace of vanity or showmanship – everything is in the service of the music. If anything Blechacz’s sensitivity and clarity is akin to that of Chopin himself.


by Mike Ford
  

Leading critics highly praise Rafał Blechacz (Japan)(2)

From "Excellent CDs of Classical Music – Volume for Musicians”,
Takeshi Nakano's thoughts on Rafał Blechacz's recordings.

Takeshi Nakano:
Born in 1931. Graduated from Law School, University of Tokyo.
Former representative director of Kenwood Corporation.
Music producer. Author of many books, writings of music.

--------------------------------

You might feel I’m prejudiced if I say that the two international competitions – Chopin and Tchaikovsky lost former authority after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, although there had been signs of that four years before during the Perestroika.
Holding a music competition requires money. During the cold war period, governments extended financial aid to keep national prestige but once the east-west confrontation ended governmental supports were drastically reduced. It’s a strange phenomenon but real.
It was companies in the private sector which supplemented the financial shortage-- companies such as manufacturers of audio equipment and music instruments. We’ve heard dark rumors since then although we don’t know the truth of them. If you look at the world of piano, we see much less number of advents of star-caliber pianists equivalent to the class of Argerich and Pollini. Therefore, it was not easy for me to add new excellent pianists for this book. I couldn’t come up with a player of “bright future” from the generation after Zimerman.

Then came a recommendation from Koho Uno - sensei (sensei=teacher, professor).
He asserted,
“Blechacz must be included in the book!” as well as Fazil Say.

Uno-sensei's instrustion;
“Haydn played by Fazil Say is good. As for Blechacz, his Mozart k.311 is exceptionally outstanding.”

Rafał Blechacz is the winner of Chopin Competition who appeared in Poland for the first time in 30 years since Zimerman.

With his acute insight, Uno-sensei is one of the few prominent critics in the world who have successfuly discovered many new talents.
If Uno-sensei recommends Blechacz, Blechacz should be excellent.

Then I received a set of demo CDs sent to me but I passed them on to Mr.Fukushima without listening to them.
Instead I purchased all the CDs by Blechacz available at music store and shortly I found it was a right decision.
I was very happy to be able to own my Blechacz's CDs.

Argerich and Pollini were pianists who changed the history of piano playing.
Pieces of Liszt and Prokofiev played by Argerich and Chopin’s etudes, famous recording and Boulez’s second sonata played by Pollini were epoch-making recordings which transformed the standard of technique for playing piano in modern period.

The shocking memory of hearing Argerich and Pollini suddenly revived when I listened to Blechacz’s CD containing sonatas by three Vienna classical composers.

Blechacz's finger attack is strong but never offending to ears.
I believe that his finger tips always capture the core of each key with the ideal intensity.

He does so not to show off his technique or beautiful sounds but to accurately narrate musical messages by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart which were imprinted on scores with his own languages – by the pianist’s words.

As far as I know, Chopin's Preludes played by Blechacz is the most excellent performance since those by Cortot. He plays these pieces with different pianism from playing the Vienna classical composers with nuanced touch of the Romantic school's music.
His playing Chopin Piano Concertos is also superb.

We've got an awesome and formidable pianist appearing in front of us.


(Note: Blue colored words are the words that Mr.Nakano underlined in the book.)
-----------------------
Mr.Nakano's evaluations: ★★★★★

"sonatas-haydn, mozart, beethoven: performance★★★★★  recording★★★★★

Chopin "Complete Preludes": performance★★★★★  recording★★★★★

Chopin "The Piano Concertos": performance★★★★★  recording★★★★★