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Oct 15, 2009

Fidelity to Chopin, score& rapport among musicians

Review on Rafał Blechacz's new recording "Chopin Piano Concertos" by Tomasz Sztuka
posted on the site of Gazeta Prawna (Poland) on October 10.

URL of the original review: http://www.gazetaprawna.pl/tagi/kultura
Please scroll down to the photo of Blechacz to select the review.





Blechacz's new recording is impressive
by Tomasz Sztuka

When I was able to listen to Rafał Blechacz playing Piano Concerto in E minor by Chopin in 2005, I was convinced that he should win the prize in the Chopin Competition, and certainly he would conquer hearts of music lovers. With hindsight I can say that he was able to do both. Recently he released his latest CD with the concertos by Chopin.

Blechacz became the first "valuable export" of Polish music.
He signed a lucrative contract with the famed label Deutsche Grammophon, which previously Krystian Zimerman only managed to do, and went onto the world. The CD with two piano concertos by Chopin released in late September shows that Blechacz has both talent and rare ability for deep interpretation. Blechacz’s music clearly shows his inner needs and is characterized by emotions. Therefore, the style is different from Zimerman, which is often called – by his whole perfection- "mechanical".

Blechacz tries not to be pigeonholed as just the chopinist.

After the release of the first disc for DG with preludes by Chopin (2007), he recorded rather quickly very well received sonatas of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. CD with concertos of Chopin, as the underlying artist, is related to the upcoming year of Chopin.

It seems to me that the return to the Polish composer, is also a nod to the viewpoint of listeners who on the success of Blechacz in 2005, were waiting for the complete recording of the concertos.

It is worth noting that his execution is not show-off, he doesn’t have revolutionary characteristics.

Our young pianist draws upon several performances.
He relates to the tradition, but at the same time keeps his own thought out style. The ultra-lightness, freshness, and at the same time fidelity to Chopin’s tradition made me a comparison with old but the model recordings of concertos performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Witold Rowicki, Regina Smendzianka (F minor) and Halina Czerny-Stefańska (E minor), both concertos recorded in 1959.

Recorded concerto in E minor, is by far the better than the previous recording for DG executed by Yundi Li and the Philharmonia Orchestra directed by Andrew Davis, where the conductor weighed volume rather than accuracy of interpretation.

Important feature of the new recording is the absolute harmony between the orchestra, the pianist and the conductor.

Neither party takes top. The pianist does not try to gain momentum for priority, which is characteristic of many other recordings such as the one by Lang Lang.
Blechacz does not grab cheap tricks, not making it strange. He masterfully interprets and allows the eminent Dutch orchestra to exist on equal.

It seems that for an example of not being consistent is the concerto recording by Olga Kern and the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit (ed. Harmonia Mundi, 2006). where liquid playing by the pianist deviated from heavy style orchestra.

Blechacz had a rare privilege of choosing both the conductor and his favorite orchestra to record the concerto. The choice he has made turned out to be very accurate.

In December 2008, the prestigious professional magazine "Gramophone" gave the Dutch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra the title of the best orchestra in the world. (Ranking by Gramophone Magazine)

Today rarely touring, a great Polish conductor Jerzy Semkow extracts from Chopin concertos what is most important to them:
youthful lightness, sometimes belligerence, all in good tempo, without the bravado and bluff. I am sometimes under the impression that this recording extracts notes out of the score which are" missing" in many other recordings - vanished, drowned or would not sound to the end because of the imposed tempo. Surely a big merit is the chaste sound of instrument by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Chopin wrote the concertos just at the beginning of his career.

Before he left Poland in 1830, it belonged to the world of canon concert. Both works clearly refer to the form and concert convention created in brilliant style, typical of initial nineteenth century, compositions also including those by John Field, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Carl Maria von Weber, in Poland, for example, by Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński ..

Chopin also intended to compose a third concert. Trail of this idea is the Allegro de concert in A major, Op. 46, 1841, for piano solo. Third Piano Concerto, however, was never created.

**
In Australia, Blechacz's new CD was released on October 9.

UK's release was on Oct.12.

Universal Music Italy has release news for Blechacz. To be released on Oct.23. Italy

Denmark, you can place an order here.


The new CD was released in North America too. (US, Canada)
My friens there (Konstancja and Kuma) were able to listen to the new CD.
They are very happy.
I'm very happy too to know that.


***
Let me report that in Japan quite a few admirers of Blechacz’s music obtained the new CD (import version) at the first day of this month, a week earlier than the release of domestic version.

“I’m already addicted to the beautiful playing by Rafał-san. I read the essay by Prof. Stróżewski in the booklet and look at the photo of Rafał-san’s playing the concerto at his parish church (2006) as it is referred to by the Prof. I’m so happy, believe you are of the same feeling; I’ll be absorbed in listening to it for some more days”.



@ St. Lawrence's Church, his parish church in Nakło nad Notecią,
Sept.2, 2006



“I’ve listened to the concertos played by Rafał-san with other orchestras and maestros. The latest one is however definitely different from them. I feel something noble, exalted and enthralled unprecedentedly. Although these are the pieces that I’ve listened to countless times, still I feel I’m listening to it for the first time if it’s played by Rafał-san. There is real depth in the orchestra’s sound, too”.


“Fantastic!! His playing lets me feel as if I’m spoken to by the artist”.


“I love the Concerto in F minor in this disc. We can hear this concerto next year (during his Japan tour in October 2010), am I correct?”

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