Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz

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Jul 24, 2009

"Revelation" - Blechacz debut at Verbier 2006

From my archive:
Three years ago, on July 22, 2006, Rafał Blechacz performed in Verbier Festival.
It was not on his original schedule and he had to play there with a very short notice.

The following is a review written by Julian Sykes and posted on the website of Le Temps.
Sykes admires Blechacz's advent as a "sensation".

The noble elegance of Rafał Blechacz

"Revelation!” some shouted. “He’s got everything before him,” others spoke in admiration. On Saturday, in Salle Médran (it was raining that evening), a Pole, Rafał Blechacz, caused a sensation by his unexpected performance instead of Lang Lang.

It seems that we have gained by this exchange. As opposed to the Chinese star, this young man, modest, elegant and slightly too serious, does not show exaggerated manners. A year ago he won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.

Rafał Blechacz has nothing of an adept imitator. He finds Chopin’s music very congruous with his personality. As it was the case with Krystian Zimerman, he creates a natural unity with this music. His way of leading the line, noble phrasing as well as the ability to lead the melody till the end yet without ingratiation set him apart. One is bewitched by Barcarole’s width of breath as well as rubato as second nature.

One may prefer Chopin’s music in an even more concise version (Pollini in his last recordings of Nocturnes) but Rafał Blechacz shows such an intuitive rendition that we are continuously enchanted. In a playful Mazurka Op. 17 No. 1, nostalgic Mazurka Op. 17 No. 4, Polonaise in A-flat major Op. 53 that wins audience’s hearts the 21-year-old pianist shows various possibilities, and Deutsche Grammophon offered him a lucrative five-year contract—the first CD will come out next year.

He, however, is to be blamed for being too slick and wise in the Sonata in E flat major Hob. XVI: 52, which opened the evening. Haydn requires far more daring. And in the Sonata in A major Op 2 no. 2 Beethoven, it must be waited until "rondo" final for Rafał Blechacz to unbutton and ignite.


Original review (French)
The site requests you to register, so I'll copy the review as below.


L'élégance racée de Rafal Blechacz

«Une révélation!», criaient les uns. «Il a tout pour lui», s'émerveillaient les autres. Samedi à la salle Médran (il pleuvait ce soir-là), le Polonais Rafal Blechacz a fait sensation en remplaçant Lang Lang au pied levé.

Il se peut qu'on ait gagné au change. Car, contrairement à la vedette chinoise, ce jeune homme sobre et élégant, un rien austère, ne se répand pas en tics et en manières. Il y a un an, il remportait le Concours Chopin de Varsovie.

Si l'on se méfie des bêtes à concours, Rafal Blechacz n'a rien d'un singe savant. Chopin lui va comme un gant. A l'instar d'un Krystian Zimerman, cette musique coule en lui avec un naturel confondant. La conduite de la ligne, la noblesse du phrasé, la capacité à mener au bout une mélodie sans minauderie le sortent du lot. La respiration, large, le «rubato» comme une seconde nature, séduisent dans la Barcarolle.

On peut préférer son Chopin plus resserré, moins étiré (Pollini dans son récent enregistrement des Nocturnes), mais Rafal Blechacz fait preuve d'une telle connivence avec ce langage qu'on est sans cesse sous le charme. Tour à tour espiègle (Mazurka opus 17 no. 1), nostalgique (Mazurka opus 17 no. 4), conquérant (Polonaise en ut majeur opus 53), le pianiste de 21 ans possède de nombreuses cordes à son arc. Du reste Deutsche Grammophon lui a offert un contrat en or pour cinq ans - le premier CD sortira l'an prochain.

Publicité
On lui reprochera toutefois d'avoir été trop lisse et sage dans la Sonate en mi bémol majeur Hob. XVI: 52 qui ouvrait la soirée. Haydn réclame autrement plus d'audace. Et dans la Sonate en la majeur opus 2 no. 2 de Beethoven, il a fallu attendre le «rondo» final pour que Rafal Blechacz se déboutonne et s'enflamme.

---------------------------------------------------------
Julian Sykes wrote another review to cover the initial few days of the program of 2006 Verbier.
At the beginning of the review, Sykes summarizes by asserting:

"The Verbier Festival & Academy has resumed more magnificently this weekend. Violinist Hilary Hahn has disappointed Friday. In contrast, the Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz caused a sensation, replacing Lang Lang at short notice on Saturday evening".

Original review (French)




---------------------------------------------------------
Rafał Blechacz talked about this experience in an interview published in Maestro (Polish) in 2006.

(interviewer)
It appears that Deutsche Grammophon has already taken some of your career because recently you were invited to the famous festival in Verbier, Switzerland?

(Blechacz)
This is an interesting story. I was just returning from performance in Dortmund and in Ruhr Valley, where I got the phone to replace Lang Lang (Note: one of the greatest and most concertante pianists in the world today), who was sick and had to cancel his part of concerts. The label asked if I would play instead of him. And I played. I had a day for a quick decision. In the first part of the recital I played sonatas by Haydon and Beethoven and in the second - the works of Chopin. I think they liked it because after the recital I got an invitation for the next festival.

(interviewer)
This festival is famous for its classical stars - joined in the circle of music aristocracy.


(
Blechacz)
Certainly. In Switzerland a lot of artists were associated with Deutsche Grammophon. At the inauguration violinist Hilary Hahn played - I had the opportunity to know her, and she came to my concert. Also the great cellist Mischa Maisky appeared whom I like very much. I recently played the two Chopin concertos with the Sinfonia Varsovia near Marseilles, France. There such outstanding artists as Grigory Sokołów or Lang Lang performed
. (← Aug. 2, 2006 @ La Roque d'Anthéron festival)

↓The same part of the interview in Polish.


Zdaje się, że Deutsche Grammophon już zajęło się twoją karierą, bo niedawno zaprosiło cię na słynny festiwal w Verbier, w Szwajcarii?

To ciekawa historia. Wracałem właśnie z występów w Dortmundzie, w Zagłębiu Ruhry, gdy dostałem telefon, by zastąpić Lang Langa (jeden z najwybitniejszych i najczęściej koncertujących dziś pianistów na świecie – przyp. red.), który się rozchorował i musiał odwołać część koncertów. Wytwórnia zapytała, czy bym nie zagrał zamiast niego. No i zagrałem. Miałem dzień na szybką decyzję. W pierwszej części recitalu wykonałem sonaty Haydna i Beethovena, a w drugiej - utwory Chopina. Chyba się spodobałem, bo po występie dostałem zaproszenie na następny festiwal.

Ten festiwal słynie z klasycznych gwiazd. Wstąpiłeś w środowisko muzycznej arystokracji.

No, rzeczywiście. W Szwajcarii było sporo artystów, związanych z Deutsche Grammophone. Na inauguracji grała skrzypaczka Hilary Hahn - miałem okazję ją poznać, była na moim koncercie. Występował też wielki wiolonczelista Mischa Maisky, którego bardzo lubię. Niedawno grałem we Francji z Sinfonią Varsovią niedaleko Marsylii, dwa koncerty Chopina. Występowali tam tacy wybitni artyści, jak Grigorij Sokołow, czy Lang Lang.

**
As he says in the interview, Rafał Blechacz appeared in Verbier again in 2008.

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