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Jan 9, 2009

Reporting on Blechacz's Chopin in Berlin (Japan)

Reporting on Blechacz's performance of Chopin concerto No.1 in E minor
with Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB) at Berliner Philharmonie on Dec.20, 2008,
reported by Takayoshi Josho, Japanese music journalist in Berlin.

Original report is here (Japanese). (Please see the pictures.)
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Rafał Blechacz performed with RSB for the first time at RSB's regular concert on Dec.20.
In February, Blechacz will work with RSB as a soloist in their Japan tour.
The performance in December was his debut in Berlin, marking an important stepping stone for his career.
The concert was directed by Marek Janowski and he played Chopin piano concerto No.1 with the maestro,
the first encounter for the artists.

I was able to see the rehearsal. My impression was that the young pianist was way relaxed.
Blechacz says:
"When I began my career as a professional pianist, I got tense extremely before a concert.
Recently, however, I can make myself at home in both rehearsals and concerts".

Marek Janowski is his compatriot (both from Poland) but the communication with the maestro was done in English.
Janowski migrated to Germany when he was a young child and reportedly doesn't speak Polish.
"It's surprising and interesting", says Blechacz with an innocent smile.

The tempo Janowski directed was rather quick, reflecting on his natural love of clearness.
His interpretation was to emphasize technical aspect more than characteristics of the romantic music.
It was reminiscent of the brilliant style of Mendelssohn and Weber rather than Chopin.
Blechacz showed a nimble responsiveness and tuned his piano accurately to the super-quick tempo,
allowing for the stylish perforomance.

I had a conversation with Blechacz after the rehearsal and I felt that the interpretation of this kind fits well with his personality and ability.
Blechacz says:
"I am attracted to the form of classical compositions.
Therefore, I picked up sonatas of classical school for my second recording from Deutsche Grammophon, for example.
Also, Chopin was affected greatly by Mozart.
This is represented in his concerto in terms of sonata form".

In the live concert, Blechacz demonstrated an ambitious spirit added to his performance.
The 35-minute concerto was full of concentration.
The audience started giving a stromy applause and bravo as the final notes of piano ended sounding.
It is rare for a pianist not well known in Germany to be applauded so enthusiastically although he had signed the contract with DG.
It is not too much to say that Blechacz's debut concert in Berlin resulted in his personal success.

This was reflected on the fact that he was allowed to perform his solo encore after the concerto in the framework of RSB's regular concert.
(Typically, no encore is allowed for a soloist at any orchestra's concert in Berlin.)

During the intermission, DG organized an autographic session by Blechacz and it attracted a lot of people.
In Berlin, I've seen many cases where the autographic session is not so successful and should not have been held,
but it was quite different on that day.
There were too many people asking for his sign to be handled in the planned time frame of intermission, so the organizer had to extend the time.
Blechacz seemingly enjoyed communications with the public, talking with each of them attentively.


The conclusion: Blechacz's debut in Berlin exerted 120 % success.




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