Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


May 22, 2009

I'm realizing another dream - Blechacz interview (Poland)

Original YouTube screen You can see him by bigger screen

It sounds like he feels great.
Playing Bach: Prestos from Italian Concerto BWV971.

The title is:
Rafał Blechacz gra specjalnie dla czytelników "Gazety Pomorskiej"
(Rafał Blechacz plays specifically for the readers of "Gazeta Pomorska")

The video is from Interview with Gazeta Pomorska, posted on May 22, '09(Polish)

Outline:  Really interesting interview!    You can learn a lot!
Rafał Blechacz: Pursuing further dreams (video) 

Speaking with Adam Willma
May 22, 2009

-I started my doctoral studies on the philosophy at Nicolaus Copernicus University (UMK).

An interview with Rafał Blechacz, pianist, the winner of Chopin Competition in 2005.

Can you afford life without a mobile phone? 
 - Yes, although of course the phone is in the family.
The secretariat is engaged in Professional matters in Warsaw where all the offers come in.
Otherwise I would not be able to control everything.

Can you cut yourself from Internet?
 - It is just impossible, because exactly through the Internet, proposals of concerts, correspondence of recordings, etc. flow in from the agents, because the Internet is a working tool for me, I must therefore carry the computer with me throughout the world.

Do you read all the e-mails from you friends?
- I read. Moreover, not only e-mails, but a lot of traditional letters come. Many of them are addressed " Rafał Blechacz, Nakło nad Notecią". And they reach me.

There are several fan clubs for Rafał Blechacz. 
- Official club was founded just after the Chopin Competition, and has about a thousand (many?) people. It's very nice, because usually in every country where concerts are held, I can count on the permanent team of sympathizers.

How is your timetable?
- For this there is a problem, because I have to use a multi-year calendar. After 2005 above-mentioned competition, my agent in Japan provided me with such a 5-year calendar. This calendar is already full, so I needed a new one. At this time, the year 2012 is filled.

Don't you get tired of carefully clean-cut time? Is there shortage of time for getting a little bit crazy? - No, because I try to plan so they do not take the time for normal life - meeting with the family, education and preparation of new repertoire. There is also time for madness, but not everyone needs to know about it (laughs). I try to keep private and family life only for itself. It is very important to have a group of close people in which I don’t always have to stand on guard knowing that you are surrounded by cameras and inquisitive eyes. The first lesson I had just after the announcement of the verdict. The crowd pushed on us to such an extent that they had to intervene to protect us, my sister lost her glasses. We went from top to bottom with the lift, but every time they open the door cameras flashed (laughs). I think that today I manage to get the right balance. 

How was the way from pure art to show business that you have to go look like? 
- The most difficult time was after the competition. It was horrible to me that many people who suddenly surrounded me, talked only about business, not about the music. And just talk about music I missed the most. Instead, I had to investigate further the agreement. Offers were various, and there were plenty - including the role in the film and participation in ad. I had to learn who is trustworthy, and whom, it is better not to risk, what to do first and what is better to postpone for later. Now, I know, what are the mechanisms of these and I have more peace of mind in the planning. I found the right person who is engaged in organizing my work. Recently I was in Amsterdam for a very interesting meeting with managers from all 12 countries that have chosen after a competition, organized by Deutsche Grammophon. Usually I have contacts with these people mainly e-mail, and now, finally, there was the opportunity of personal encounter. The outcome was the outline of my next career plan as an artist, because it's important to skillfully combine concert and recording plans. It was the first time in thirty-year history of these agencies to have a meeting of this kind, during which all met in one place, to talk and find out more. At the very beginning Krystian Zimerman helped me, who gave me lots of detailed advice. To observe his case after the competition was important- so that I am able to play concerts, to maintain an adequate level not exceeding the limit unduly. I Came to the conclusion that a balance is going to keep at 40 concerts a year. Some artists are able to produce up to 100 concerts and more, but it means practically the whole year on the road. I do not want to feel that I need to play and do it mechanically. Fortunately it was not so, but sometimes your body turns on a warning lamp.

You manage to be immune to compliments?
- The words are naturally repeated, but you can not prevent people from talking about their feelings, always very nice to me. I am aware that for many Poles, my success had a patriotic dimension, especially the Poles living abroad are facing it in this way.

Higher educational institutions continue to educate a large number of classical musicians, while the number of recipients of music shrinks. Do young musicians come to you for advice? - Recently in London, a girl asked me for advice, who had a dilemma whether to choose studying music, or medicine. I did not have such a dilemma, always knew that playing the piano is what I want and what I did. If anyone has such a dilemma, it should be highly questionable if music is certainly an appropriate way. Intuition is extremely important - which Zimerman also stresses. I have a perfect reason - intuition is very important in music. When refining interpretation of music, it often relies on intuition. The best example is rubato, elusive tempo in works by Chopin - that can not be explained until the end. I just feel that this should be so and not otherwise.

Gold plate in a single day, platinum within two weeks ... And in the market you have to compete with recordings giants who do recordings all the time. At the same time when you record in the studio, Deutsche Grammophon, the studio of Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich and Krystian Zimerman.
- It is better not to think about it and concentrate solely on my own progress. Therefore, I didn’t listen to any other participants in the Chopin Competition. Of course, before the recording of "Preludes," Deutsche Grammophon browsed the catalog, because I did not want to record works that were recorded recently. It appeared, however, that comes before the previous record quarter, Ivo Pogorelić executed them. Many great artists crisscross across the world. With Krystian Zimerman I met recently in New York, where I played with the local Philharmonic - had come to my concert, it was earlier at a concert in Tokyo. Interestingly, when I played in New York, exactly at the same time began concert by Martha Argerich, who played Prokofiev. At the time of my show in Paris, Yundi Li played at the Salle Pleyel.

How do you maintain fitness? 
- I run less frequently now than before, but when I come home, I try to work out sports regularly. Recently Nordic walkingfascinates me. This helps a lot also in the concert tour, when I must play the same works twelve times. 

What books do you bring to the plane?
- I read several books on philosophy. I started with the doctoral studies in Philosophy at the UMK Toruń. Actually in the course I am very casual, but carefully read the entire set of literature and it makes me very much satisfied. In the booklet for the next CD there will probably be my conversation with the philosopher, Professor Władysław Stróżewski. These studies help me in the very essence of musical meaning. And while in the air I often sleep to take rest. Increasingly, moreover - if possible – I travel by car. I like driving, it relaxes me. Moreover, sometimes traveling by car is less longer than by plane, taking into account the time to check, delays and route from the airport. 

What do you listen in your car? 
- Preferably not my recordings (laughs), unless I get it from the label for acceptability

Do you often make amendments? 
- Yes, but only at the stage of recording. I listen to recordings several times at different times of day to catch all the details. After recording it is not likely to make changes. I believe that there is no sense to over-focus on nuance, consider whether the note played too softly, or as loud, because you may overlook the whole, lose the musical narrative. You have to listen to music, not just sounds. That's why I listen to good music in the car, where the natural noise lets me focus on music, not details. This is somewhat as if listening to music through black CDs (?). Sure, however - and sometimes even with a stopwatch - the length of breaks between songs. This was the disc of sonatas, between the first and the second parts of sonatas by Haydn. The first part ends in E flat major chord, the second begins in E major chord. It is surprising that Haydn decided on such a "harmonic dissonance'', but if you pause too long, the listener doesn’t hear the transfer of one half tone. If this is too short – the sound doesn’t extend, the listener is not prepared to change the mood. Fractions of a second often determine the quality. I should also note the way of recording. For example, Maurizio Pollini prefers a little more spacing of microphones - it gives the impression of being in the concert hall. I like the closer, because it provides the possibility of handling nuances of dynamics so-called “microdynamics”, which cannot be examined at the concert hall. There are various solutions - usually recording with six microphones, some of them standing about 8 meters away from the piano to "collect" natural reverberation. This is the great art to choose an appropriate proportion.

Krystian Zimerman takes his piano in route, you are passed to the various instruments. Can foreign pianos play tricks? - Grand pianos can be a surprise. Sometimes the old Steinway can sound more beautifully than a new instrument. It all depends who is caring for the instrument, and in what conditions it is stored, and if there are large differences in the room temperature, etc. I am of course committed to my Steinway, which was funded by Orlen, but my favorite piano during concert tour is the instrument at Royal Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam. Maintaining this marvelous instrument tuned, by a real magician. It is with this instrument that I will record a new album.

Also the audience in the Netherlands belong to your favorites. - Because it is unusual audience. Even in smaller cities interest in concerts is very high. People listen very carefully, and in absolute silence and spontaneous reaction. German audience is similar. Before I went for a concert in Germany, I was warned that the local audience is distant and cold, and that even if they like the concert, this will not be proved spontaneously. And here I was surprised: cheers, standing ovation, encores. Today, the German public is one of my favorites. I feel that people know the works which I play, listen with strong commitment and, as it turns out, are able to reward the performer.

You had the opportunity in the halls through which the great musical legends turned out. Are you aware of that? - Exciting and awareness every time a great joy. When you go back to these halls, they no longer seem so great but (laughs).

The double triumph in Paris could turn your head (get you conceited). - I remember so well, how work and self-deprivations you achieve may turn your success to succumb to temptations.
A musician whose head is turned by the success is already doomed to failure as an artist, because he stops seeing the future and problems that still must be overcome.

Does the global crisis impact you in terms of concert halls? - Fortunately, no, although everybody is talking about this.

In addition, the music industry worries about slow death of the CD as a carrier. Sales of music are increasingly shifting to the Internet.- It's true. When recording two CDs, I recorded short tracks that are only available on the Internet. This form of sale is already very popular in the United States, but it is surely only a matter of time of its dissemination in Europe.

Your music could be appreciated with even online pirates. - Many people said to me about it. But what shall I do? This is the world.
I'm more nervous about amateur recordings of concerts that appear on the Internet,
because the sound quality of these recordings is very poor.

Krystian Zimerman recently caused outrage in the United States, with his statements about the country's involvement in the war. Don’t you opt for commenting of real world?
- Krystian is 52 years old, I’m 23. For many pianists politics come to the floor, Zimerman is a courageous person who never hide his views. He has always called for peaceful resolution of conflicts, with the diplomatic way of resolving them. Two years ago, before the concert in Aachen Krystian turned toward the audience and said that instead of wasting money on armed conflict, it could be better to improve classroom acoustics, where the concert was held. I think that for the courage Krystian is recognized. I enjoyed the strength of the impact of his words, which in the concert hall via the media, spread to the whole world.

But you do not start from the view of the political message? - No, although sometimes it is hard to escape from politics.

Have you given up your own compositions
- Once I wrote a few piano pieces, and even a string trio. Today, I do not have the time to, or internal needs, and to do something against the state of mind does not make sense.

Is this state of mind ready to accept other than classical music? Some musicians allow to each other an affair with jazz.
- It's good that there are such experiments, because they attract people to the consequences of music. I do not have to if necessary. But for example, harmony of Gershwin is interesting for me and perhaps soon I will perform one of the composer's works for encores. Recently in Paris I had the opportunity to talk with Mark Tomaszewski of the famous duo Marek and Wacek. I heard a lot of interesting technical observations, improvisations.

New tours, new songs, new CD, which is a scenario for the next 20 years? - Ten years ago I said that if I can be in different places in the world for people to play the piano, I will be happy. I now carry out this scenario. If in 20 years I play for the audience, I hope that I will also be happy for that reason.

How is the preparation for new repertoire?
- I have the time in the intervals between a tour and another. I close it at home and work. Preferably in the evening or at night.

Do the family walk on their toes?
- Parents already feel without words when they leave me. I am glad that I have good conditions for further development and continuation of artistic creation.

What can we hear under your current window? Piano concertos by Chopin, which can be found on the third disc. Label helped me choose the orchestra and conductor with whom I want to collaborate on this recording. So I chose my favorite Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam This orchestra has a unique color and velvet sound, not harsh, not matt, just perfect for concertos of Chopin. Musicians have excellent sense of wavering rhythm in Chopin to feel without words, and very flexible to respond to the pianist. I hope that it will be beautiful adventure. Furthermore, the conductor will be Jerzy Semkow, with whom I always wanted to play. So I will realize another dream.

In the latter half of the interview, the interviewer refers to recent remarks by Zimerman in US.
Remarks by Zimerman in US in April 2009 (Los Angeles Times)
Remarks by Zimerman (Gazeta Wyborcza) (Polish) + Chopin Ballad No.1 performance ←super!

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