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Mar 29, 2009

Being natural is the key - Rafał Blechacz interview (Japan)

Interview given by Rafał Blechacz for Japanese music monthly "Chopin" April, 2009.
Interviewer: Mr. Takaakira Aosawa

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He truly knows himself.
It is my impression about Rafał Blechacz every time I listen to his performance.
Since his victory in 2005 Chopin competition paved the way for him
to be actively engaged in appointments in the world over,
he has never been carried away by the fuss.

With his innate modesty, he always delivers decent music.

In his tour in Japan in February 2009, he performed Beethoven’s concerto No.4
with RSB directed by Marek Janowski and five solo recitals.

The performance implied that the 23-year-old is never in a hurry,
 spending his time to quietly reflect on himself.
The close contact he has with each composition permeates intact into hearts of the audience.
Blechacz’s rendition has something to let such a pure empathy happen.

To play Chopin, he beautifully revealed the innermost heart via Mazurkas.
He faithfully depicted Heroic Polonaise without catering to the extroverted heroism.

--------------------------------------------------------

Q: You chose concerto No.4 by Beethoven for the current Japan tour.
I think the concerto fits well with your personality, Mr. Blechacz.
It is brimming with natural songs supported by the sense of robust structure.

A: This is of different type of music among five piano concertos by Beethoven.
I would like to perform all five concertos in my repertoire in due course
 but first I wanted to perform No.4 that has been my favorite for long years.

I’m not the pianist who has a background of German culture.
To play the concerto with the German musicians, therefore, has been quite meaningful in this regard.

Q: May I ask you how you select your repertoire overall, not limited to concertos.
What is your prospective map to draw?
Do you have any plan to follow for next 10 years or over, say, until age of 60?

A: It’s difficult to foresee at the age of 60. (laughing)
But I have a perspective to some extent, bearing recordings in mind in this context.
I’ve already recorded two albums from Deutsche Grammophon.
I would like to expand repertoire of classical composers especially sonatas
that I have been learning since I began playing piano
while trying to deepen my interpretation of Chopin’s, the most important composer for me.

When trying to expand my repertoire and improve my pianism and technique,
it’s very important to think what kind of pieces the audience wants to hear.
In the current Japan tour and other recitals,
typically I place Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Debussy and other composers’ in the first half,
setting aside Chopin’s music in the second half.
It is the style to accommodate such needs of the public.





Q:  There are an enormous amount of pieces when you think about your repertoire.
My impression is that you are cautious and rather honest in picking up the music you play.
You select the program that can express and convey who you are,
exemplified by the sonatas by classical composers.
What are your aesthetic criteria in selecting your repertoire?

A: For me, what is most important is if I perform it naturally.
If I don’t feel sympathy with the piece or believe that I can understand it well,
I can’t deliver the music to the listeners.

It is after I find the music that catches me and practice it to make it my own
that I can get my performance across to the audience and they really appreciate it.


Q: Do you have any criteria or rule to determine that you have made the music your own,
although I know that it is something personal and delicate?

A: If I talk about Chopin, because Chopin’s music have always been close to me,
I feel and accept it quite naturally.
I feel something intimate between what I infer from his music and myself.

Another type of music is for example, concerto G major by Beethoven.

Initially, I didn’t think that it would be permeating into the depth of my heart,
but as I learn and read it faithfully, it eventually fell into my hands,
 giving me confidence that I can perform it.
For me it has been s a kind of adventure.

I rather want to begin with the works that I feel close to me naturally,
such as Suite bergamasuque by Debussy and music by Bach.

I want to record Mazurkas by Chopin; possibly there will be an opportunity to record all the Mazurkas.

Q: On the contrary, do you have any work that you feel is farthest from you among first-rate music
– the music that you never feel like performing before audience?

A: It is about some specific pieces rather than composers.
I’m not in a position to talk about that now (laughing).
It is a very delicate part and it may hurt someone who loves the music if I say that I won’t play it.
Let me keep it to myself.

Q: When a new piece comes into you, what kind of chemical reaction is taking place within you
if you feel a gap between you and the music?

A: It is very difficult.
It is related to what is the most important for you when you embrace an artistic work and try to reproduce it.

Should you accept the work exactly the way it was written
or should you find a way to deliver your own feeling, utilizing what has been written?

My approach is that what is written in the music score is something absolute
and I should express exactly what is written.

How then can I express what the composer didn’t write or what he couldn’t describe fully?
Here, I need to express my loyalty to the composer's work.

I need to read and understand what the composer experienced or felt when he composed the music,
and then I need to re-live his experience to express it in my performance.

Every written note has a meaning.
So I must feel empathy with all the notes as my own and fully understand to express them all.

This process is necessary to completely interpret the composed work.
By so doing, I believe that I can express the true intention of the composer.

Q: If a composer feels something painful like Chopin, for example,
how can you assume his pain through his composition?

A: I think there are various ways to have empathy with the piece.
A very delicate person could feel another’s pain as if it is his own pain.

When you listen to a part of music, how you react may differ.
It can make you recall the pain that you suffered in the past;
or it can vividly remind you of the pain another person went through.

But I also think that it is quite interesting that we associate music with pains and other various emotions.





Q: Whichever piece you play, you always show us the world
which is noble, delicate, beautiful and filled with harmony.
I feel your performance purify me of the sadness, pain and even joy.

A: I am appreciative of what you say.

Probably it doesn’t answer your question
but what I try to do through music or what I value in my life is
"to be natural".

In performing music work, my role is to play it as the composer wanted me to play
and to reproduce what he wanted to express today.
For me, trying to respond to his wish is natural
and to achieve that, I need to select the music that I stay natural with.

Finding a commonplace between his music and what I am
and identifying myself with what the composer left to me
would result in the naturalness that I’m supposed to achieve.

Q: Finally, what do you expect the musician called Rafał Blechacz to do?

A: I have never tried to show off myself or contradict what is written in musical score;
I have never been contrary to what is expected of the performer.

 Probably I will remain the same.
For me, nothing is more important than being natural.

I want to always remain what Rafał Blechacz is.

And Rafał Blehcacz is the person who always lives his life and interprets music naturally to perform it.
I want to remain my own man.  It’s my current wish.


Please read Mr. Takaakira Aosawa's review on Blechacz's concerts in Tokyo, Feb., 2009.

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My husband has just returned from work.  He looks happy.
He wears i-pod and says abruptly,
"Ah, Blechacz is great.
I'd feel  walking in the forest even in the crowd.
It's quieting and purifying".

(↑ He was listening to Preludes by Chopin; we live in central Tokyo.)

Mar 28, 2009

Blechacz played three encores in Paris

Wiadomosci.wp.pl quotes PAP news reporting that Rafał Blechacz's recital at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
in Paris on March 27 was a big success.

Wiadomosci.wp.pl site is here. (Polish)

PAP site (Polish)


(Outline of the article)

Standing ovation was adopted in Paris in the evening of piano recital by Rafał Blechacz,
the winner of the last International Chopin Competition.
After that, crowds of music lovers were waiting for seeing the young Polish artist at the autographic session.

Recognized as one of the greatest talent, the 23-year-old Polish pianist Blechacz presented the recital
at the prestigious concert hall in Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées,
consisting of the works of the classics.

In the first part of the recital, the pianist played works by Bach, Mozart, Szymanowski,
and in the second half, ballad, Mazurkas and Polonaise by Chopin.

After completing the program, the concert pianist encored three times
at the request of the public tightly filling the theater hall.
Then, a long queue for his signature was made set under Blechacz's latest album, which has just appeared in France.

In "sonatas" - so is the name of the latest CD - issued by the prestigious German label Deutsche Grammophon,
tracks consist of Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart.

In the French critic magazine Classica Répertoire, the reviewer praises "sonatas,"
noting that "the young pianist promised to be a worthy successor to Krystian Zimerman.

Rafał Blechacz was the winner in 2005, XV International Piano Competition of Frederic Chopin.
The pianist was also awarded prizes for the best performance of mazurkas, a polonaise, sonatas and concerto.

Blechacz a year later - in the wake of the Polish pianist Zimerman - signed a contract with Deutsche Gramophone.
The debut album that Rafał Blechacz issued in 2007, including Chopin repertoire,
has gathered a very favorable press reviews of world
and in Poland it has become a platinum plate.

By Szymon Łucyk (PAP)

Program page of Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
Le Figaro introduces Blechacz





Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

After the ricital on March 27, he will be back here on May 14,
to perform Saint-Saëns:Piano Concerto No.2, op22
with Orchestre National de France
Conductor: Fabien Gabel

Program page of Orchestre National de France


Review on Blechacz's previous recital at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on Jan. 27, 2008.


Blechacz's next recital will be at London Wigmore Hall at 19:30 on April 22, 2009.
Wigmore program page.

Please read the review by "Guardian" on Blechacz's Wigmore debut (lunch concert) on April 2, 2007.
This review was referenced in the program book of Blechacz's 2007 Japan tour (May to June, 2007).


Mar 27, 2009

Successful again in the Netherlands - Blechacz

Rafał Blechacz's recital in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, on March 25 was again a big success.
He encored twice: after the first half and after he completed the recital.

Thank you Roman again for the good news.

program info
Program info 2
Program info 3
Program info 4




Mar 26, 2009

Critics say Blechacz renews contract with DG

Rafał Blechacz has signed a new contract with Deutsche Grammophon for another three CDs,
according to Poland Radio 2 broadcast "Co słychać w muzyce?" at 18:00 on March 25.

In the radio program, music critics Jacek Hawryluk and Jacek Marczyński talked about music events in Polnd last week,
and this topic was mentioned.


They also said Blechacz's next CD "Chopin concertos" , the third one under the current contract with DG,
will be launched in October this year.

They also explained the reason why Blechacz's planned concerto
with A. Wit on March 21 in Warsaw was changed to March 19,
it was because Blechacz accepted the request to perform a recital in Amsterdam concertgebouw on March 22
instead of Sokolov who was ill.

(But I looked at the schedule at Concertgebouw and "Master piano series"
and found no change to the schedule about Sokolov,
although I had read Jacek Marczyński's article on Rzeczpospolita as of March 12
saying that Blechacz's going to perform in Amsterdam on March 22. )

↑The fact was that Blechacz did not perform in Amsterdam on March 22.
Confirmed in the morning of March 27 (JST).


Jacek Hawryluk appeared on the program "Co słychać - Rafał Blechacz" of TVP Kultura on March 24 and 25
to have an interview with Blechacz.
This TV program also broadcast fragments of Blechacz's concerto by Beethoven.

Bravo!


French web sites introducing Blechacz

europecentrale.asso.web.com introduces Rafał Blechacz's recital
at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées on March 27, 2009.

Original site (French)

program:
Bach : Italian Concerto BWV 971
Mozart : Sonata K. 570
Szymanowski : Variations op. 3
Chopin : Ballade op. 47 n° 3
Mazurkas opus 17
Polonaise Fantaisie op. 61

The new Zimerman: Poland waited for thirty years before Rafał Blechacz in 2005,
the crown of the Chopin Competition was awarded to a Polish since Zimerman.
He emulates Zimerman in brilliance and joined the same record company,
which today released his second album, after Chopin, the obvious selection, the great classics.

The young pianist has inherited from his illustrious predecessor
this inimitable voice, done with elegance, simplicity and poetry.

The voice that is far from being swank and sentimental;
it is the voice of the heart, no doubt.

Virginia Schaefer-Kasriel © Jeanine Roze Production



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Pianobleu.com maintains a beautiful site of Rafał Blechacz.

Page of Blechacz's CD "sonatas" (French)

Rafał Blechacz
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob.XV: 52
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata in Amajor OP.2 No. 2
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Piano Sonata in D major, K.311

As explained in English, Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz introduces his EPK disc (see video below),
it was natural for the winner of the Chopin competition that he first recorded a disc of the composer.
In this new album, he wanted to interpret different composers around the theme "Sonatas".
He was able to meet three composers; Mozart, who was for his first public concert at age of six years,
Haydn, he often played in competition
and Beethoven, whose sonata he chose was composed at the same time as that of Haydn,
and he also performed it at the International Rubinstein piano competition where he won the second prize.

Certainly it presents a program about composers of a different style and a different period from that of Chopin,
and yet Blechacz notes that the middle movement is often the "heart" of a work,
"It is the place where the composer, as well as the performer, takes the opportunity to reveal in sound everything lurking in the deepest reaches of his soul."

He asks in the booklet accompanying the disc:
" Does this mean that we are dealing here with Romantic works?
I don't think so, yet it would be wrong to suppose that Classical composers felt a different kind of joy, sadness, hope or despair than the Romantics.
The fundamental nature of emotion is always the same; only its expression changes.
When playing works from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic or even impressionist repertoire, I often feel that these composers always comvey the same substance, feeling and emotions, even though the style and approach of each is unique."

Emotions that the young pianist shares with a huge talent in a colorful way to bring out the sounds of strings or wind instruments
and he confided:
"While working on Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven, I've often attempted mentally to "orchestrate" the work, or part of it, whenever I had doubts as to articulation, pedalling or timbre.
After performing this "instrumentation in the mind", those doubts about interpretation would disappear."

... and there is no doubt with regard to the talent of Blechacz that this new volume confirms:
it is sufficient for example to hear him interpret andantino con expressione of the Mozart Sonata K.311,
or watch the video below, the scherzo of the Sonata No. 2 by Beethoven, to appreciate his playing very personal language constantly renewing great expressiveness.

To listen to samples and / or purchase this disc ..... click here or click here



Page of Preludes of the same site (French)

Bio of Blechacz of the same page (French)


For those who have not yet seen this interview with French media (Video in English)
Interview with VirginMega in October, 2007.
He mainly talks about Chopin and Preludes.




Mar 25, 2009

Impressive recital in Rotterdam

"Rafał Blechacz's recital on March 23 in Rotterdam was a big success
and standing ovation had no end.

He gave encores also after the first part (before intermission)
which happens rather rarely".



News from Roman. Thank you for good news as always and
Congratulations to Rafał Blechacz!!

Program page in Rotterdam
Venue info

Blechacz's Chopin in Berlin (by Czech media)

Czech magazine Harmonie, February 2009 edition
has posted reviews on two concerts on December 20, 2008,

by Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marek Janowski,
including Chopin piano concerto No.1 with Rafał Blechacz as a soloist, and
by Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta,

written by Henry Bálek.

Original review (Czech)

Title is "Yong Blechacz and aging Mehta".


Excerpt of parts related to Blechacz:


Blechacz has begun studying philosophy and will have tests until the date
that originally Chopin concerto No.1 for this year's "Spring of Prague" had been planned.

However, this remarkable young man played the concerto on the 20th of December last year
in Berlin with the local Radio Orchestra under the baton of Marek Janowski.

Blechacz led the relatively early Chopin's piano concert to underline the characteristics of young people
and respected the immediacy and was almost on the border of playful improvisation.

Likewise it was easy to dance "polonaise", character of the third movement.

However, the central lyrical theme of the first movement, on the contrary,
with tremulousness and mysterious reverence to full expectations -
was ruminative, completely natural
and created a charming world of the young poet worthy of romantic legend.

Well, I wish for time to hear Blachacze in Prague.

Berlin Radio Orchestra's brass solos were not equally brilliant,
but soft cultivated strings were excellent accompaniments.


English for the whole review (machine-translated)

Mar 24, 2009

Blechacz interview on TVP (Poland)

TV Poland Kultura will air an interview with Rafał Blechacz (15 min. long)
"Co słychać - Rafał Blechacz" (What's going on Rafał Blechacz)

on March 24 at 21:00,
March 25 at 3:05 am, and
March 25 at 7:20 am. (Poland local time)


TVP program page is here.

The interview was recorded on Wednesday, March 18, after a rehearsal at Filharmonia Narodowa in Wawsaw.

Thank you Roman (US) for the information.

Mar 22, 2009

Breathtakingly beautiful Beethoven in Warsaw

A Polish fan who attended the concert including Beethoven's concerto No.4 performed by Rafał Blechacz
in Warsaw on 19 and 20 of March, 2009
espressed her joy of the beautiful performances, saying

"Fantastic, wonderful, unforgettable evenings.
Rafał’s performance was breathtakingly beautiful,
followed by standing ovations and encores.

Orchestra accepted his own way of narration and wonderfully harmonized with him.

I have never heard the concerto by Beethoven so fantastically played.

Rafał looked very, happy, so did the audience".

*******************************

"I saw Rafał was deep into the music.
He knows precisely every movement of orchestra and I think he played the concerto thoughtfully.

Sometimes he moved his head, looked at the orchestra and nodded for example at cellos sitting in front of him.

When Rafał played cadenza in the first movement,
maestro Wit stood over him, looked at piano smiling happily.

After the first movement finished, they two smiled to each other,
reminiscent of the Chopin competition.

And my long awaited second movement.
Entreaties of Orpheus of liberating his beloved Eurydice.

Beautiful and lyrical playing without sweetness culminating in one point;
only one note, only one sound by Rafał; sufficient for expressing its feeling. (Like in Mazurka op 17 no 4).
He was fantastic.

The third movement was very happy and wonderfully harmonized with orchestra.
Rafał played both hands with the same power, producing richness of sounds.

Somebody applauded a little after the first movement
but I didn't wonder because I also wanted to do the same during concerto;
my hands wanted to give bravo unintentionally.

Thanks Rafał, thanks A.Wit, thanks orchestra.

People were deeply moved;
I heard voices full of admiration and saw smiles of extreme happiness".



 Congratulations Rafał Blechacz and the audience in Warsaw!




Encores:
Chopin Prelude op28-4
Beethoven sonata op2-2 3rd movement
Moszkowsky "enticelles" (March.20)

The program book said that Rafał Blechacz asigned all his honorarium for charity.

Mar 21, 2009

Blechacz playing in Cologne (Video) (English)

Video of performances and interview by Rafal Blechacz shop in Cologne (he had a recital there on March 15, 2009) in English.


 Please enjoy the video (English)


The same contents as the German version.

Youtube version (German)



The English version was sent to me by a Japanese fan living overseas.
Thank you very very much. You always find something special.


Rafał Blechacz is going to perform in Rotterdam, Nijmegen and Paris.
May exceptionally beautiful music and precious time be shared by all.


March 23, 2009
@ The Jurriaanse Zaal, de Doelen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

March 25, 2009
@ Concertgebouw De Vereeniging, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

March 27, 2009, at 20:00
@ Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris

Bach : Italian Concerto BWV 971
Mozart : Sonata K. 570
Szymanowski : Variations op. 3
Chopin : Ballade No.3 op. 47
Mazurkas op. 17
Polonaise Fantaisie op. 61

Mar 20, 2009

Blechacz playing in Cologne (Video) (German)

Blechacz's performance can be seen in this German link.
It is a mini-documentary to show Blechacz's past, present and future.

The same video on Youtube.

I suppose the video footage was taken at his recital in Cologne, Germany
on March 15, 2009 for promotional purpose.

Blechacz answers some questions (his remarkes are voiced-over by German translation)
and interacts with the audience at the autographic session.

I was impressed by the first few seconds, when he plays Chopin Ballade No.3.
He performed this piece in Japan in 2006 and I felt he has made a renewed remarkable refinement.
He is really a resilient and resourceful pianist in my impression.



The pieces that are included partially in the video footage:

Chopin Ballad No.3 (Cologne)
Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie
Chopin Concerto No.1 2nd movement (Chopin competition)
Moszkowsky enticelles (artist room?)
Bach Italian concerto 3rd movement
Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie


In between, he answers to the presenter saying that for him music is language
and his life unprecedentedly changed after the Chopin competition.

He describes his second CD sonatas by classical composers;
he says he had listened to many symphonies by Beethoven and operas by Mozart
and this was useful for his interpretations when playing their piano sonatas.

He also says he is interested in studies of aesthetics, philosophy of music,
and it is useful for understanding music better and for playing, his job.

Blechacz showed maturity - Rzeczpospolita (Poland)

Polish paper Rzeczpospolita posted on its website
the impression on Rafał Blechacz's Beethoven concerto No.4 on March 19, 2009 in Warsaw.

Original review (Polish)

----------------------------------------------------

(↓English for paragraphs related Blechacz.)

Rafał Blechacz reached manhood


by Jacek Marczynski 20-03-2009,

Performance in Warsaw yesterday proved that this pianist is a matured artist.

He is no longer the same boy, who was dazzled by the victory at the Chopin Competition with youthful enthusiasm three years ago.
Anxiously waiting for long, the Warsaw audience was finally able to meet Rafał Blechacz who chose Beethoven concert No.4.
The same program is scheduled also today (March 20).





It was a very thoughtful interpretation.
No impulsive trial for an effective virtuosity was made.
And if the beginning of the concerto may not seem impressive enough,
after a while the impression was receded.

Rafał Blechacz read the work of Beethoven thoroughly to clearly show what is the most important:
to elaborate interlacing threads of the classical and romantic music.

As Antoni Wit led the National Philharmonic orchestra imposing his own way of narration,
he was a vigilant subordinated soloist.

The music sounded great dialogues in the song of the second movement.
Blechacz played blamelessly supported by unrestrained technique.

He beautifully managed to keep a balance between the right and left hands.
This perfection is not an objective itself but it served to achieve the intended purpose.


The audience came to listen Blechacz, but Antoni Wit made its surprise, recalling forgotten "Cantata on the death of Emperor Joseph II", composed by 20-year-old Beethoven....

------------------------------------------------------

Program:

Opferlied ("Die Flamme lodert") op 121, for voice, choir and orchestra
Cantata on the death of Emperor Joseph II for voices, choir and orchestra
Piano concerto No.4

Mar 19, 2009

Blechacz in Warsaw - Polish radio

I'll copy the news clip of Polish Radio.

--------------------------------------

Blechacz billed in Warsaw Philharmonic Hall

19.03.2009


Rafał Blechacz, the up-and-coming Polish pianist,
is the star at tonight’s concert of the Warsaw Philharmonic under its Music Director Antoni Wit.

He is the soloist in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.

Twenty four year-old Blechacz won the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 2005.
He has since developed a fine international career, with performances at such prestigious events as the Salzburg Festival.
He has recorded two CDs for Deutsche Grammophon under an exclusive contract with that label.

Polish radio site

Article of Onet.pl: similar announcement (Polish)


------------------------------------------------------

TVP Kultura will have a program about Blechacz
"Co słychać odc. 32 - Rafał Blechacz" (What's going on Rafał Blechacz)
on March 24 @ 3:05 (←meaning 3:05 am on March 25, Poland local time)

TVP Kultura program


Also on March 25 @ 7:30
here

Mar 18, 2009

Review on Blechacz's concert in Japan (2)

Review on Blechacz’s recital at Tokyo Opera City Hall on Feb. 14
By Ms. Yukiko Hagiya
Published by Ongaku-no-tomo (music friend), music monthly, April issue, 2009


He deepens interpretations every time


Rafał Blechacz grew more pristine and brilliant.

Four years have passed since he won the Chopin Competition.
How amazing it is that he has kept polishing his piano performance throughout these years
without succumbing to a lot of temptations or overconfidence!

The first item on the agenda was Mozart sonata B flat major K570.

How cleanly it sounds from the first bars!
He swept away unnecessary emotional attachment but played it with all his heart.

He was getting near to the essence of Mozart by serenely playing the adagio;
the finale was played with such a graceful and light touch
that the texture of his fingers was felt transparent.


Next was Beethoven sonata No.2.
The elegant interpretation was the Blechacz-way.
All the sounds he produced including the softest pianississimos that appear at every turn
carried very well.


After the intermission were the compositions from his country.
He selected 4 Mazurkas op-17 and Heroic Polonaise from Chopin.

The Mazurkas were superb!

He expressed the liveliness of the mazurka by the first piece.
He then contrasted the melancholic kujawiak with mazur skillfully in the second piece.

In the third, he showed the excellent handling of enharmonic modulations.
In the fourth, I was able to enjoy various elements of the mazurka to the full.


In playing the Heroic Polonaise, he didn’t get involved in revealing his techniques
but paid utmost care to the metronomic sense peculiar to the polonaise.


The final piece was Variations by Szymanowski.
He brought about ethnic sentiments expressively
and made us know that this is one of the sublime masterpieces.



Leaflet of recital @ Tokyo Opera City Hall

------------------------------------------------------------------------

In Japan, review on classical music doesn't appear on the Internet
and is published only through the printed media.

The two reviews that I posted on Blechacz's Japan tour were published just today on March 18.

Review on Blechacz's concert in Japan (1)

Review by Takaakira Aosawa
on Beethoven's concerto No.4 @ Tokyo Suntory Hall on Feb.12, 2009
and solo recital @ Tokyo Bunka-kaikan (cultural hall) on Feb.18, 2029

published by "Ongaku-no-tomo"(music friend), Japanese music monthly, April, 2009


Piano concerto No.4 by Beethoven
Flawless, clear-cut and crystalline
--Blechacz's sound advancing like a limpid stream



Every time coming to Japan, Rafał Blechacz has shown a stable growth.

The highest prize he obtained in 2003 Hamamatsu competition and the victory in 2005 Chopin competition in Warsaw were the starting of his international career.
I cannot believe that these were only a few years ago.
When I hear the performance by the 23-year-old now,
I could tell that he has spent some time to introspect himself to grow.

In his 2009 Japan Tour, Blechacz performed Beethoven’s piano concerto No.4 in G major
with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB) directed by Marek Janowski.
He also held five recitals with the program that I believe he has taken time to mature.

Blechacz reportedly performed Chopin’s concerto No.1
with the same orchestra under the baton of the same maestro
for his Berlin debut in December, 2008.
For the latest Japan tour, he selected the fourth concerto from Beethoven’s concertos,
the optimal fit for the current Blechacz.

Since his inauguration as the music director and chief conductor of the RSB,
Janowski has maintained a close relationship with the orchestra
and highly acclaimed for enhancing the presence of RSB.
The maestro focused on Beethoven and Brahms in the latest Japan tour
and read into details of the music sharply and clearly.

On February 9, he conducted RSB with Rafał Blechacz as a soloist at Tokyo Suntory Hall.
Polished flawless, clear-cut and crystalline,
the piano sound by Blechacz progressed rapidly like a limpid stream
including the low-register range, although the volume is not powerful.

I wish there were occasions where he could demonstrate his quality as poet
by singing lyrical parts more slowly and naturally.

But because of maestro Janowski’s inclination for simple and brisk flow,
Blechacz rendered bright and lively performance.
The similar tendency was implied in his solo recital.

It could be safely said that Blechacz emphasized more characteristics of classicals
than dramatic and lyrical tastes of romanticism.


Leaflet of concerto with Janowski and RSB


Solo recital
-- I felt close to Blechacz and his sincerity

In the solo recital, Blechacz played Mozart sonata B flat major k570
and Beethoven sonata A major op2-2 before the intermission.

After the intermission were 4 Mazurkas op17 and Heroic Polonaise op53 by Chopin
and Variations op3 by Szymanowski, the compatriot composers that Poland is proud of.

I attended the recital at Tokyo Bunka-kaikan (cultural hall) on February 18.

Throughout the concert, Blechacz played sincerely, devoted himself to the pieces honestly.
It made me feel very close to him;
I felt as if I happened to hear him playing in his room
rather than attending the recital at the major concert hall.

He maintained equilibrium of both hands and deployed every sound right and precise.
Furthermore, he added cheerful beauty to the Mozart and sheer drama to the Beethoven.

In playing Mazurkas, he showed personal nature of the diary-like pieces.
His delicate, beautiful sounds produced internalized poems.

When playing more extraverted polonaise A flat major,
Blechacz was consistently noble as if playing for the salon rather than leaping ambitiously.

For Szymanowski, he counted on exquisite subtle changes to convey versatile expressions
rather than extending volume range.

He played Chopin’s Prelude E minor for encore of both solo recital and concerto.
The conscientious performance was the quiet testimony to the modest and honest personality of Blechacz.

Mar 17, 2009

Welcome back to Warsaw, Blechacz

Drogi Rafale,
wielbiciele Twojej sztuki pianistycznej z ogromna radościa oczekują koncertow
w Warszawie.
Życzymy Ci pięknych przezyc, niezwykłych wzruszen i radości w sala,
która była świadkiem Twojego triumfu.
Będziemy razem z Tobą.
Melomani z Polski i całego świata






Dear Rafał,
the admirers of your piano art are waiting with the biggest joy for your concerts in Warsaw.
We wish you beautiful experiences, extraordinary emotions and joy
in the concert hall which witnessed your triumph.
We will be with you together.
Music lovers from Poland and around the world

Mar 13, 2009

Blechacz's interview broadcast on March 23

Polish Radio 2 will broadcast performance by Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Prague Concert Choir
at 19:05 - 21:30 on March 23 (Warsaw local time).

During the intermission, an interview given by Rafał Blechacz will be broadcast.
Title: "muzyka to nie wszystko". (music is not all)
(program Anna Skulski)

Polish Radio 2 (Polskie Radio Dwójka) program page.
Please click on "słuchai w internecie" on the left side
and the on line streaming page will start.


This information was sent to me by a Polish fan through Dana, another Polish fan.
I would thank both ladies for the interesting info!






Blechacz wraca (Blechacz returns)
Rzeczpospolita, Polish paper, expresses its expectation on the upcoming Blechacz's concerto
of Beethoven No.4 in Warsaw on 19 and 20 of March
on its web version as of March 12.


Rzeczpospolita dated March 12 (Polish)

The article briefly explains the change of the date from 21 to 19 of March
as Blechacz will perform for recitals in the Netherlands soon after Warsaw,
and describes the all Beethoven program directed by Antoni Wit on 19 and 20.

program:
Opferlied ("Die Flamme lodert") op 121, for voice, choir and orchestra
Cantata on the death of Emperor Joseph II for voices, choir and orchestra
Piano concerto No.4


Program page of Filharmonia Narodowa (March 19, 2009)


Maestro Antoni Wit


Schedule after Warsaw in the Netherlands and Paris:
March 23, 2009
@ The Jurriaanse Zaal, de Doelen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands


March 25, 2009
@ Concertgebouw De Vereeniging, Nijmegen, the Netherlands


March 27, 2009, at 20:00
@ Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris

Bach : Italian Concerto BWV 971
Mozart : Sonata K. 570
Szymanowski : Variations op. 3
Chopin : Ballade No.3 op. 47
Mazurkas op. 17
Polonaise Fantaisie op. 61

Mar 12, 2009

Chopin 2010

Chopin 2010 site has got started.

Chopin 2010 main page (Polish).
Chopin 2010 main page (English).





THE BIRTHDAY DECADE (excerpt from the site)

"The Birthday Decade is going to be the first of the three dominating events of the Chopin Year.
Organised by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute,
it is going to feature a series of concerts between 21 February and 1 March 2010,
that is encompassing the two hypothetical dates of the composer's birth.

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the genius composer's birth,
Warsaw will be hosting a splendid array of the world’s pianism,
with performances by Martha Argerich, Piotr Anderszewski,
Leif Ove Andsnes, Rafał Blechacz,

who will open the birthday celebrations,

Daniel Barenboim, Dang Thai Son, Evgeny Kissin, Garrick Ohlsson, Janusz Olejniczak,
Murray Perahia, Ivo Pogorelich and Yundi Li.

The artists will be accompanied by Frans Brüggen’s Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century
and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit.
A detailed calendar of concerts will soon be available at the portal".




Rafał Blechacz opens birthday celebrations on

Feb. 22, 2010
Symphonic concert with Orkiestra Symfoniczna Filharmonii Narodowej
and Antoni Wit
@ Sala Koncertowa Filharmonii Narodowej
(National Philharmonic Concert Hall), Warsaw
here



And a recital is scheduled on April 27, 2010 in Belgium.

@ Palais des Beaux-Arts/Bozar
Brussels, Belgium

Fryderyk Chopin
Ballada No.3 op. 47
Scherzo op. 20
Mazurkas op. 50
Polonaise-Fantaisie op. 61


Palais des Beaux-Arts/Bozar, Brussels



June 14, 2010
Recital @ Salle Pleyel, Paris

J.S.Bach Partita No. 1 BWV 825
Mozart Sonate K 570
Claude Debussy "Pour le piano"

Frédéric Chopin
Ballade No.3 op. 47
Nocturnes op. 63(←op. 62?)
Mazurkas op. 17
Polonaise op. 53
here


The Salle Pleyel, Paris


I'm expecting more concert schedules to be posted going forward.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Review on Blechacz's recital on May 8, 2008 @ Oakmont, California, US,
posted on the site of Classical Sonoma, the North Bay.

I don't know why I couldn't find it up till today....

Please read other reviews on Blechacz's debut recitals in North America (April - May, 2008).
He held five recitals in April and May, 2008 in Canada and US.

Mar 9, 2009

Review on Blechacz's CD "sonatas" (UK)

Review by Colin Clarke on Blechacz's CD "sonatas" posted on the site of
Musicweb International (UK).

Very good review.
The reviewer is well informed and reads the performer's intention faithfully.

Review by Music web International






You can read a review on Blechacz's "Preludes" by Chopin on the same site.

Review on Blechacz's debut CD "Piano Recital" written by Colin Clarke.

Mar 7, 2009

Blechacz's teacher talks about her student

Prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, Prof. of Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy, Bydgoszcz
gave an interview to “Musica Nova”, March 2009, music magazine during her stay in Japan earlier this year.

She was in Japan as one of the jurors for the 10th Chopin Competition in ASIA.

In the interview, she expressed her impression about the young contestants from Asian countries.
She says that overall, the contestants’ level was very high and she found some of them are talents.

She then describes how difficult it is to perform Chopin’s works in both technique and pianistic aspects.
A good Chopinist could play Chopin’s work in his later years such as Polonaise-Fantaisie.

It requires Slavic atmosphere and French point of view as well as Polish one.
Chopin’s soul resides in Poland whereas his way of thinking is very French.
Chopin is very logical and sophisticates his music.
It is difficult to have both aspects and express diverse feelings in one integrated way.

Prof. advises the piano students to try to play beautifully first,
then the result will follow even in the competition.
If you are distracted to performances of others, you cannot be concentrated on.

She advises those who want to play Chopin beautifully to;
have a balance between healthy heart and mind.
Emotion is mother and intelligence is father to perform good music of Chopin and all the other composers.


Then, the interviewer asked her about Rafał Blechacz.

Q: You taught Rafał Blechacz?

A: I taught him for seven years.
He was 15-year-old secondary school student when I first saw him.

Q: What was your impression when you first hear his performance?

A: He was very shy and didn’t talk a lot.
I hardly remember hearing his voice in the first year. (laughing)

It was not until a few years later when he started conversation from him,
saying that he wanted to play Italian concerto by Bach and Suite bergamasque by Debussy.

Before that, he said nothing when assigned a new work and didn’t talk about what he wanted to do.

But whenever I gave him advice about the piece he was engaged,
he always absorbed it and corrected everything.
There was no need to repeat the same advice.
He therefore speedily made a steady progress every week.

Then I thought that it is advisable for him to enter the Hamamatsu Competition
as a preparation for the Chopin Competition three years later.
It could be a good opportunity for him to be familiar with the long, stressful process in the competition.

Hamamatsu requires a wide range of music and has produced some excellent pianists in my impression.

There was only two-week period for him to prepare, so I didn’t expect him to get awarded.
But after the second round completed, Prof. Piotr Paleczny notified me that Rafal was highly evaluated by everybody.
I then rushed to Japan from Poland to see the final stage.


Prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, on Dec.6, 2008
@ Bydgoszycz



Q: What drove Rafał Blechacz to participate in the Chopin competition?

A: He desired to join first of all.
I also felt that he performs Chopin very well.
I didn’t think that it was too early.

He had engaged in Sonata in the previous year, played Barcarole and the concerto No.1 at the Hamamatsu.
He was able to prepare the entire program in one year and a half.

Practicing Chopin only could make him lose balance in the period running up to the competition,
so I advised him to practice works by Mozart and Debussy, music with closeness to Chopin.

I believe Debussy is best suitable to learn rich sounds.
Rafał deeply loves Debussy.

He says that he performed music by Debussy for the first time under my instruction
and “fell in love” in Debussy at first sight.

I told him to practice Clair de lune and Passepied first.
Three months later, he shyly said,
“I played Menuet and Prelude, too, because they are very beautiful”.

Mar 6, 2009

Blechacz debut recital at Cologne Philharmonic

Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the Cologne daily newspaper posted the introduction of Rafał Blechacz on its web site
written by Dorle Ellmer
as Blechacz will give a recital in Cologne on March 15.


Authentic and unpretentious

Rafał Blechacz gives his first recital in the Cologne Philharmonic.

With no pretentious, triumphal attitude nor disordered hair
-this pianist is nothing but his primary virtue of pianism.

Flawless technique and absolute precision are Rafał Blechacz coupled with an impressive art of attack,
with the will and the ability to reach the heart of the composition, and with great joy of expression.

At the age of 20, the young Polish pianist won the prestigious Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2005.
The jury was so overwhelmed by his playing that they were unable to award a second prize,
the qualitative gap with the other award winners being too great.

Famous predecessors such as Maurizio Pollini and Martha Argerich once went out as winners from this competition,
and Krystian Zimerman was exactly 30 years before Rafal Blechacz to convince the jury.

The two have much in common, not only that they are fellow countrymen,
they are equipped with the same seriousness of the matter in playing music rather than putting themselves in the center.

Krystian Zimerman stood behind his young colleagues after the competition with advice and support
and has offered valuable tips for living in the reality of a soloist.
Rafał Blechacz already knew at the age of ten that he wanted to become a pianist,
but taking care of the world of agencies, festivals and concert promoters was the virgin territory for the 20-year-old.

An entire orchestra in my ear
Meanwhile, Rafał Blechacz has traveled a lot for the world-wide demand as a soloist with a record contract.

In 2007, he made his debut at the Philharmonie in Cologne with Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto,
and his first CD from Deutsche Grammophon was devoted to Chopin.

Now he gives for the first time a solo recital in the cathedral city
and has a colorful mixed program in luggage from Bach to Szymanowski.

Chopin is also back. Rafał Blechacz apparently has a special sensor for the many nuances of this composer's expression.
It is impossible for him not to play the music of his countryman with his horizon.

As for his approach to the works of the Classical, Rafał Blechacz describes as follows:

"If I were in certain passages in the piano sonatas of the Classical works,
I always imagine the sound of other instruments.

During the study of Haydn, Beethoven or Mozart,
I have often tried to orchestrate in my mind the full or parts of it
to grasp the clarity of articulation, pedal use, color or sound sources.

After going through this process of imaginary orchestration, interpretational doubts were mostly eliminated. "

"Silence is very important for me."
Born and raised in the Polish town of Nakło and has felt well there until today,
the city did not even have a proper music school,
and he went to learn in the provincial city of Bydgoszcz.

"Berlin would be too restless for me. I want to stay in Nakło.
The atmosphere is just so good. I want to work in peace.
This peace is very important to me,"
says Rafał Blechacz and makes sure that no more than 45 concerts in the year to give.
He takes time for the preparation of new repertoire and goes after his hobby: hiking in the Tatras.

Marketing experts bite on the unpretentious young man completely from the teeth.

You could safely sit back and let the quality music run through,
and this promising young pianist captures the audience with his inimitable, humble smile on his way.

Dorle Ellmer

Original article is here (German).

Kolner Philharmonie page (German)



Program at Cologne Philharmonic
Johann Sebastian Bach
Konzert für Klavier F-Dur BWV 971 (1734)
"Italienisches Konzert"

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sonate für Klavier Nr. 17 B-Dur KV 570 (1789)

Karol Szymanowski
Variationen b-Moll op. 3 (1901-1903)

Frédéric Chopin
Ballade Nr. 3 As-Dur op. 47 (1841)

Frédéric Chopin
Mazurkas op. 17 (1833)

Frédéric Chopin
Polonaise-Fantaisie As-Dur op. 61 (1846)

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Deutsche Grammophon posted Blechacz's "Prelude" Op.28-4 in E minor
on its"Recommendation" page
in comparison with the same work done by Pogorelich, Pires, Argerich, Pollini.

saying that "Find here a selection of different recordings by highly acclaimed artists
and listen to the range of interpretations".

Mar 2, 2009

Chopin concerto No.1 in Gran Canaria - webcast

Rafał Blechacz's performance of Chopin Concerto No.1
with Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria directed by J.J.Kantorow
will be broadcast by Radio Clásica (RTVE)
at 21:00-23:00 (Spain local time) on March 3, 2009.

The concert was held at Auditorio Alfredo Kraus de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on April 11, 2008.

Program:
Carnicer: The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
Chopin: Concerto No.1 in E minor
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.3, Op. 29

To listen to Radio clásica, here.
Please click on the "arrow" mark under "Radio clásica en Directo" on the right side.

Program page of Radio clásica.
You can see Blechacz's program at 21:00.

Please excuse me in case of sudden change/cancellation of the program.



Event page of Gran Canaria

Mar 1, 2009

Masterpianists series 2009,2010 -the Netherlands

"Meesterpianisten 2009 -2010" (Masterpianists series) of the Netherlands contains reviews
on Blechacz's first appearance in the series in 2007.

On page 21 of the brochure, several very good reviews
from newpapers of his first performence in the series are mentioned.
The most are already known.

It also touches upon Blechacz's planned performance of Chopin's concertos with the RCO.

It also says,
"Meanwhile Blechacz is well known in all parts of the world.
His honest, golden cristal-clear performance exhibits a tremendous noblesse and musical maturity.

On page 32, you will find a program of his recital
at Amsterdam Concertgebouw on May 9, 2010.
I'm pleased to see Blechacz's name with such "master pianists" as Sokolov and Pollini
on the same page.

Program
J.S.Bach Partita nr.2 inc kl.t., BWV 826
W.A.Mozart sonata kv570
C.Debussy Pour le piano
F.Chopin
Ballade No.3,
Scherzo No.1,
3 Mazurkas, 2 Polonaises


Meesterpianisten 2008 -2009" (Masterpianists) is here.
(Blechacz in NOT here.
But you will find the link to the above-mentioned brochure for 2009-2010.)


↑ courtesy Dana,
on Blechacz's debut at Meesterpianisten 2007
Some photos←from public domain



The info was provided by Jan from the Netherlands.
Thank you very much as always!!