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Nov 23, 2009

Review of Blechacz new CD (Japan) (2)

Review of Rafał Blechacz’s new CD “Chopin The Piano Concertos”
Written by Hiroyuki Iwai for “Record Geijutsu (=music, arts) December 2009 issue published on November 20.





The latest Chopin International Piano Competition was the 15th held in 2005, when he was acclaimed way ahead of the other contestants (not only awarded the 1st prize, but he monopolized all the four special awards), thus making music lovers in Poland feel heavenly joy; his name is Rafał Blechacz.

This is his first recording of concertos. Composer, soloist and conductor are all Polish but the accompanying orchestra is not. The prestigious orchestra of the Netherlands has been employed. It should be a selection full of benevolence offered to the young pianist starting on a great career. And Blechacz has perfectly fulfilled the extraordinary expectation.

How is his performance?
This pianist possesses a temperament to weigh fine lyricism over energetic, impassioned performance. He is not an ordinary technician. He has a poetic turn of mind by nature. His Chopin doesn’t rely on the strength of fortissimo; he turns his pianissimo to account. He values allusive feeling of delicate and serene beauty above moving about restless and hurriedly. This is how he plays Chopin which I believe will awaken patriotism of his compatriots….
(Then the reviewer writes about Adam Harasiewicz but his description is not correct and I’m skipping this part.)
[The CD is strongly recommended.]
(By Hiroyuki Iwai)



(About recording engineering)
The Concerto No.1 is credited as live recording but No.2 is not marked, so it seems to have been recorded in an ordinary manner. The difference is not easily discernible but I feel a slight difference in how sounds in the upper register hold out. I also felt that the Concerto No.2 gives more transparency of piano sound than No.1. Anyway, the recording represents the merit of Amsterdam Concertgebouw Hall, well-balanced, allowing a stable and magnanimous acoustics.
(By Shohachiro Aizawa; he rates the recording 90 – 93 out of 100). (←Note: It is rare to see rating over 93 in this magazine.)




Monthly “Record Geijutsu” provides reviews of tens or hundreds of CDs published in the latest month in Japan, so the reviewers write only based on what they hear from the CD they are responsible for. You may have an impression that these reviews are monotonous, out of touch with context (how Chopin was when he composed these pieces, how his personality is close to Blechacz's, etc...) But for CDs of concertos of this month, Mr. Iwai and Mr.Utasaki wrote reviews for a total of ten CDs including Blechacz’s. Utasaki wrotes about some symphonic CDs, too. So they should not be blamed.

In order to differentiate the superior CD by Blechacz from many others, the monthly carried an interview with Blechacz in its November issue, where Tsutomu Nasuda, the interviewer, explored an interesting conversation with the artist. He added his impression of Blechacz’s new CD.

A similar handling was taken last year for Blechacz’s CD “sonatas”. In addition to the routine based reviews, the monthly carried another special review written by Koji Shimoda, a pianist and teacher who had studied and taught in Poland, attended all the programs of 2005 Chopin Competition and therefore appreciates Blechacz's musical caliber very well.



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