Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Jun 29, 2009

Blechacz's recital in Brussels 2007 podcast

Rafał Blechacz's recital at Klara Festival in Brussels on September 12, 2007 was made available
via Dutch Radio Archive of "Missed Broadcasts" of the Dutch Radio Distributor KRO.
This program was broadcast by the Dutch Radio 4 on June 25.

KRO page (podcast)
I'll keep this link open for the next 7 days.
↑ The link was deleted as of July 6.

1. Webern: Im Sommer Wind. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons.
2. Schubert: Songs in orchestral arrangements of Anton Webern and Max Reger.
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons. Thomas Quast Hoff, baritone.

3. Chopin:
Barcarolle opus 60
Nocturnes opus 62
Mazurka 's opus 50
Polonaise opus 53.
Rafał Blechacz, piano.
Recording of a concert for Klara Festival @ Palais de beaux-Arts, Brussels on Sept.12, 2007


4. Beethoven: Symphony No. 5. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons.

5. Chopin.
24 Preludes, opus 28.
Rafał Blechacz, piano.

Presentation: Mark Brouwers

Klara Festival

Jun 28, 2009

Blechacz Saint-Saens in Paris webcast June 29

Rafał Blechacz was at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris on May 14, 2009
to play piano concerto No.2 by Saint-Saëns with Orchestre National de France directed by Fabien Gabel.

This concert will be webcast by France musique
at 9:06 - 11:00 am, June 29, 2009 (CEST).

To listen to France Musique (MP3, 128k/s)
MP3, 60k/s

Program page
Another program page (Thanks to Keiko-san)

Chausson : Viviane, poème symphonique op. 5
Saint-Saëns : Concerto pour piano et orchestre n° 2 en sol mineur op. 22
Richard Dubugnon : Le Songe Salinas, pour mezzo-soprano et orchestre (commande de Radio France, création mondiale)
Roussel : Le festin de l'araignée

Please read how a fan felt when attending this concert in Paris

Reactions from media

The plan to broadcast is subject to sudden change/cancellation without prior notice.
Your understanding is very much appreciated.

Jun 26, 2009

Concertgebouw concertmaster talks of RCO's magic

Interview with Liviu Prunaru, one of the concertmasters of Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (KCO): Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) inserted in the program booklet of RCO for their Japan tour in November 2008.

Rafał Blechacz will perform two piano concertos by Chopin with RCO at Amsterdam Concertgebouw next week.
It will be recorded and released as his third CD from DG.
The recording session will include a live concert at Concertgebouw on July 2.

For me, the sound of RCO is a mystery.

Interviewer: Masayoshi Iwashita, music critic & scholar of German literature

Q: How long have you been playing for RCO as a concertmaster?

A: Two years. Before, I used to teach in Switzerland and play as a soloist. I have lived in Switzerland for 18 years.

Q: You joined the orchestra for the first time as a concertmaster of RCO. I have the impression that RCO has a unique sound. How do you describe the sound?

A: For me, RCO’s sound is a mystery. It is something that cannot be logically explained. It’s said that the sound has been fostered by conductors and some concertmasters. Furthermore, it could be related to the hall where RCO performs. I’m talking about the Concertgebouw. The hall’s acoustics creates extremely special sound, which remains in the hearts of the members. Even going to other countries, the members remember the sound, pulling it out from the depth of their ears. First and foremost, I believe that the hall has influences on us a lot when creating the sound.

Q: Does RCO have a secret to produce a sound for specific pieces?

A: If I can tell something, it is the “unity”. It can only be expressed in the one word. Unlike other orchestras, RCO’s members frankly talk to each other. We spend time for discussion to try to find the way to demonstrate the best of our orchestra. Each of all the members listens to sounds of others; you listen cautiously to another member next to you, another instruments and another sections. This culminates in the unity to help create the original sound.

Q: Do the tradition and history of the orchestra support the unity?

A: I cannot simply say that it is done by our tradition. RCO has a long history and it has been going through various times. Focal points of the orchestral sounds vary among different times. If you listen to the recordings of 1950’s and 60’s, you will hear different sound from today. I play and lead for today’s RCO. Therefore, I would like to assert that the today’s sound is better.

Q: People often appreciate RCO’s tradition and history. When and how are you impressed or influenced by the tradition and history?

A: I think it’s related to the link between the past and today. We have many members playing for RCO for 20 to 30 years. Also we had Bernard Haitink who was a Chief Conductor for many years (Note: 1961–88, he is now Conductor Laureate of RCO.). These helped create the link, enabling the orchestra to hand down the tradition of the past over to the present. The next generation has combined new things of their time with what they received from the predecessor. I believe the cycle will continue. As I play my role as a concertmaster, I will be able to bring out something new to the orchestra; such as novel colors.

Liviu Prunaru, Romania
(But I don't know which concertmaster will be responsible for the recording.)
(The photo was taken in 1994; he is now 40.)

(Then Prunaru talks about Mariss Jansons, the Chief Conductor. He appreciates Jansons’ ability to lead the orchestra as well as his wonderful personality.)

Q: Is there any change after Jansons became Chief Conductor?
(He became Chief Conductor in September 2004.)

A: I cannot answer it because I joined RCO after he became the conductor. But let me say that RCO was my favorite orchestra even before I joined. I had never thought of joining an orchestra; I joined because it was RCO’s invitation. I’d listen to many recordings of RCO and I know its sound very well. Through my listening, I can say that after Jansons came, with the ideal training that I mentioned before, RCO’s harmony improved dramatically. This orchestra has beautiful sound and ideas but all the merits were integrated under Jansons’ leadership. Everything was well organized. Each of all parts is beautiful and they are integrated into one entity which is breathtakingly wonderful. Furthermore, it is rightly supported by the awareness of form. He doesn’t let us disorderly spill out. He manages to keep us in the form. For example, when playing baroque music, we don’t use too much vibratos, finely keeping dynamics to preserve the style. Everything is well organized.

(Finally, he talks about halls and audience in Japan. He says that RCO members have the ability to flexibly adjust the sound depending on the different halls. They change the way to play in all the concert halls to create the best possible sound there.)

Interviewed in Sept.2008, in Lucerne.


Yesterday I listened to the webcast of Blechacz's recital in Belgium in Sept. 2007 by Radio 4 of the Netherlands. The radio program included orchestral pieces by Schubert and Beethoven performed by RCO.

The sophisticated, lucid, elegant and urbanized sound reminded me of the concert by RCO that I attended last year at Yokohama Minato-mirai Hall.
The orchestra’s sound was so beautiful that I could not believe that I was in the Yokohama Minato-mirai.

The entire audience was so impressed that they didn’t stop applauding even after the program finished and all the orchestra members left the stage. Finally, Jansons returned back to the stage to thank the audience.

Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

I'm very pleased that Rafał Blechacz will collaborate with such a wonderful orchestra again.

In his recent interview, Blechacz talks about RCO.:

"... 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 a beautiful adventure.
Furthermore, the conductor will be Jerzy Semkow, with whom I always wanted to play.
So I will realize another dream".

The concert at Amsterdam Concertgebouw (2037 seats) on July 2 has been fully booked for several weeks, according to a fan in Holland.

Rafał Blechacz is leaving for Amsterdam on Friday and will begin preparation for the recording on Saturday.

Jun 25, 2009

I started by Bach - Blechacz (interview in 2006)

From my archive
Interview Rafał Blechacz gave in January 2006 during his stay in Japan for Chopin Competition gala concert.
(The interview was held 3.5 years ago;
while some contents are outdated, I feel he remains the same in the fundamental character.)

Original interview (Polish)

English (machine-translated)
The English is understandable but let me pick up the answers that I think are interesting.

I started by Bach.

Q: Has anything surprised you in Japan?
A: During the competition in Hamamatsu, between successive stages, I had some free time and went out. Suddenly I saw the monument of Chopin exactly the same as (the one in Warsaw) from the bathroom, which looked identical but slightly smaller. I felt like in Poland.

Statue of Chopin viewable from the hotel Blechacz stayed
for the 2003 Hamamatsu competition

Q: How is your normal day when you're at home?
A: I have to impose on me certain rigorousess, because after the competition, a lot of responsibilities fell on me, such as preparation for new works for the specified dates, which I could not cope with if I was not well-organized. Up quite early. Then, gymnastics and breakfast. Then sit down at the piano and practice for a couple of hours before lunch. Then again, practice. In the morning I develop new works, because my mind is fresh and better. In the afternoon or evening I'm back for works that I already know and are awaiting me in the concerts.

Q: How do you remember works?
A: This happens automatically. If I play a piece a lot of times daily and systematically, a moment comes when I do I reserve the notes and play from memory. I remember notes visually and how to play them, then I have it before the eyes.

Q: Your name is now inextricably linked to the music of Chopin. On your debut disc, however, you recorded only one piece by Chopin - Polonaise in A flat major, but after compositions by Schumann, Liszt, Debussy and Szymanowski. Did you choose so?

A: Yes, it was my choice. The album was generated with a view to creating a musical portrait, showing the wide repertoire. Debussy and Szymanowski are my favorite composers. Schumann of course, too. It was good that recording of the album coincided with the preparations for the Chopin Competition. I was forced to withdraw for a short period from Chopin's works and deal with different music. This steppingstone gave me a better insight into his work.

Q: The most renowned composers for you, in addition to already mentioned,...
A: Frederic Chopin, Maurice Ravel, John Sebastian Bach, because I started by Bach.

Q: "Start by Bach (Zacznij od Bacha)." Do you know this song?
A: Yes, it's the song of Zbigniew Wodecki.

Q: What in fact do you mean by "starting by Bach"?
A: All, in relation to playing the piano, beginning properly with Karl Czerny etudes and works of Bach, which teaches logical orderly thinking.

Q: Starting from Bach and attaining the championship in playing Chopin. Is it necessary to know life of Chopin as a pianist?
A: Yes, it certainly helps. This gives an idea of Chopin, the times in which he lived. It was a very turbulent period of our history. We Poles are lucky in that the places where Chopin stayed are easily accessible to us. I see the Japanese pianists who come to Warsaw to study, observing and absorbing Chopin's climate. For them it is very important.

Q: But we prefer that you play Chopin's later works, although you have not yet been to France, right?
A: Well, it is something you can read about it. For example, a publication containing Chopin's letters to the students. Chopin sent them invaluable tips on how to play his pieces.

Q: Which correspondence do you remember?
A: In a letter to one of the students, Chopin wrote about the second part of the piano Concerto in F minor, that all the fast passages should be done with great precision, lightness and finesse.

Q: Do you use these tips? Concerto in F minor exists in front of you.
A: Of course. I have already started practicing the concerto. I have to prepare it for June.

Q: Which pianists is closest to you?
A: Krystian Zimerman.

Q: Do you had the opportunity to meet him personally? At the 15th Chopin Competition you received the award for best performance of the Sonata founded by him.
A: I met Krystian Zimerman in March 2005, as he was in Katowice to receive honorary doctor's degree from local Music Academy. On the next day, he held open classes with students in which I participated. This was a very interesting experience.

Q: What is your dream now?
A: So far, my dream was to win the Chopin Competition. And now I would like to make the best use of opportunities that the competition created to me; that is very well presented for debut, waiting for me in the future in major concert halls, to be invited there again.

Jun 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Rafal Blechacz ♪♪

Happy Birthday, Rafał Blechacz

Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin.
(He will turn 24 on 30th of June.)

May this day bring to you all things that make you smile.

For the recording of the third CD,
May all the wishes and dreams you embrace turn to reality,
with the wonderful orchestra,
the favorite instrument,
the magical concert hall
and the respected maestro.

Nasz Pianista (The Pianist for all the people)

In the first week of July, Rafał Blechacz will perform Chopin concertos No.1 and 2
with Royal Concertogebouw Orchestra (RCO)
directed by Jerzy Semkow
at Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
A live concert is scheduled on July 2.

Concertgebouw program site
And here
Also here

Maestro Jerzy Semkow

Bio of maestro Semkow (English)
Bio of maestro Semkow (Polski)

Semkow conducts Mozart violin concerto k.218 (Video)

RCO at Amsterdam Concertgebouw

Jun 17, 2009

The first anniversary of this site "Preludia"

I started this site "Preludia" just a year ago, on June 17, 2008.

(Courtesy Kuma-san)

Thank you very much for visiting this site and reading stories for the past year.
Please receive the lovely flower with my heartfelt gratitude.

My special thanks go to those who support the site by giving feedbacks and contributing articles, news, etc...

Initially, I just wanted to have a place to show articles about Rafał Blechacz written in Japan,
because there is almost no information of Japan-origin about the artist available on the Internet.
I'm now very glad to see that the geographical coverage has expanded globally.

I'm a conference interpreter (English vs. Japanese) and usually work for international conferences, business meetings, etc... The industry types that I work for vary: IT (information technology), pharmaceutical, medical device, environment, financial, government offices, etc... To cover a wide range of areas, interpreters are always busy in preparing for a job assigned, looking for information via Internet to compensate the shortage of prep materials given by clients. We are used to finding relevant information from the net. This skill (or habit) is useful for me to maintain this blog. Through the blog, I get e-mails from various countries and I can feel that English is understood by many people around the world, although I should have known it through my job.

About 90 % of jobs for interpreters in Japan are English. Majority of foreigners who come to Japan for business are not native English speakers. (Simultaneous) interpretation service is provided only for official conferences, seminars. For post-conference events such as receptions, one-on-one meetings and press interviews, they talk directly in English (occasionally getting help from a stand-by interpreter).
I think it's good. People can talk more comfortably and understand better by talking directly to each other in the "common" language. Like the Internet, English is quite a convenient tool to connect people nowadays.

Discovering information about Rafał Blechacz to share findings here is quite fulfilling. Maintaining this blog allowed me to know that the music delivered by this celestial pianist deeply impresses many people of many different countries in the same manner, letting me believe that humans are given something common deep inside their souls to accept the universal values - beauty, compassion and gratitude, regardless of differences of, language, culture, age, gender...

It was not that I began writing an article on June 17 last year.
I had several basic articles prepared such as "Concert schedule", "About this site", and some reviews from Japan, Europe,
and let them go live on that day.
Therefore, some articles are dated before June 17.

Family and teachers related stories in "Family/teachers/colleague talk" series
received the most favorable reactions from readers.

Another articles that I like in the past year.

1 How are you Rafał Blechacz? Interview with Gazeta Pomorska. (Poland)

2 Blechacz dreams paragliding over Grand Canyon Interview with KlassikAkzente (Germany).

3 Music can be a sincere prayer. Interview with Przewodnik Katolicki. (Poland)

 And for me the most memorable webcast concerts in the past year were:

1 Saint-Saëns Concerto No.2
with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra directed by Andris Nelsons
Aug.21, 2008 @ Amsterdam Concertgebouw   ←"Tam było super, prawda?" (Great...!!)

2 Recital at Salzburg Mozarteum
Aug.15, 2008

3 Chipin Concerto No.2 with New York Philharmonic conducted by Marin Alsop
at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, NY
on Oct. 11, 2008

Thank you again for visiting♪ 
Please keep in touch!!

With Poznań Philharmonic, November 2007
Received platinum disc for CD "Chopin, The Complete Preludes",
the 1st recording from Deutsche Grammophon .

Thank you, Rafał Blechacz.
The joy you bring to audience with your artistry is much bigger than these bunches of flowers.

Jun 16, 2009

Blechacz 3rd CD Chopin concertos Oct.17 (Poland)

Express Bydgoski on June 13 quoted Andrzej Haluch as saying that the third CD of Rafał Blechacz from Deutsche Grammophon, which contains two piano concertos by Chopin will be made public on October 17 this year, the anniversary of the death of the composer.

Andrzej Haluch's office (Warsaw Artists Management Ltd.)

Express Bydgoski (Polish)

(excerpt from Express Bydgoski)
Cały czas Chopin

Rafał Blechacz, czyli nasz nakielsko-bydgoski skarb. Chłopak przez prawie 150 dni w roku jest poza domem. Reklamuje siebie i Chopina przed międzynarodową widownią. - Pan Rafał nagrywa właśnie trzecią płytę dla Deutsche Grammophon. Na krążku pojawią się dwa koncerty fortepianowe Chopina. Dzieło zostanie zaprezentowane w rocznicę śmierci kompozytora, 17 października - mówi Andrzej Haluch, impresario artysty. - Poza tym trwają przygotowania do tournée po Niemczech. Natomiast rok 2010 będzie Rokiem Chopina, w związku z tym pan Rafał ma zaplanowane 40 koncertów na całym świecie. Na pierwszy rzut oka wydaje się, że to niewielka liczba, ale dodajmy do tego dojazdy, próby z orkiestrą. To ponad 150 dni w roku poza domem.

Dodajmy, że mimo tak napiętego grafiku, Rafał Blechacz ma jeszcze czas na naukę. Jest doktorantem na filozofii UMK w Toruniu.

All the time, Chopin

Rafał Blechacz, our treasure in Nakło-Bydgoszcz. The young man is away from home for almost 150 days a year. He makes himself and Chopin appealing to the international audience.

“Mr. Rafał Blechacz is about to record the third album for Deutsche Grammophon. On the disc there are two Chopin piano concertos. The work will be presented on the anniversary of the composer's death, 17 October”, says Andrzej Haluch, impresario (manager) of the artist.

“Besides, there are preparations for the tour in Germany (in October).
On the other hand, 2010 will be the year of Chopin and in relation to that, Mr. Rafał Blechacz has scheduled 40 concerts around the world. At first glance, it appears a small number, but add time for traveling, rehearsals with the orchestra. He is away from home for over 150 days a year”.

Note that despite the tight schedule, Rafał Blechacz still sets aside time to learn. He is a student for doctoral thesis of philosophy at the UMK (Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika , Nicolaus Copernicus University), Toruń.


 Please note that this is what his manager talked to the local newspaper in Poland.
It may not apply to other countries.
Remember that the launch date of his 2nd CD "sonatas" differed largely among markets.

Jun 12, 2009

What is Chopin music for Rafał Blechacz

Why do you play Music?
From my archive, this is an excerpt from an essay including interview with Rafał Blechacz
written by Takaakira Aosawa.

Published by Ongaku-no-tomo (music friend), May 2007 issue.
Interview took place during Blechacz's tour in Japan for all Chopin program in autumn 2006.
Therefore, questions were typically related to Chopin.

In the life of young musician, where does he find the world that he cannot have only with music?

“I need time to rest.  Not fixing my eyes on piano, listening to CDs of other music, watching TV, reading and walking. Of course my day-to-day life is deeply involved in playing Chopin and the distinction is blurred sometimes.  After playing concerts consecutively, I need time doing nothing”.

Isn’t it difficult to strike a balance between the journey to the past unique to each piece of music
and spending time for his own life?

"Sharing a worldview of various musicians gives you the opportunity to be distant away from the gray part of day-to-day life, something that is not so interesting, although it is too much to call it escapism.  When immersed in different music – the world of Chopin, the world of Mozart or the world of impressionists, I’m left apart form the daily routine.  Sometimes, however, I can get inspiration from daily life”.

Then I asked him if he occasionally feels in everyday life escaping from artistic world, descending from the mountain.

"I think now I’m in a situation where I have a good balance. I don’t have to escape from music to daily life”,

I think Chopin will remain quite important for Blechacz. I wonder how he is going to dig into the dark side of human emotions of Chopin music.  The sentiment of deep isolation which is sometimes unhealthy; the aspect describing murky, gruesome side of human soul.  My impression is that Blechacz has not yet devoted himself to reach this realm of Chopin music.  How should a musician of today, grown up happily, meet a composer of unhappy era with artistic imagination? It’s a kind of  serious issue for today’s musicians who live in totally different age from previous centuries.  Chopin’s life and era were difficult.  When playing his music, does Blechacz, as a compatriot interpreter, feel that he bridges the two different times?

"Chopin lived in a different age and it affects a lot.  The political situation was different; Poland was not independent nation but occupied, which affected greatly his characteristic.  But I also think that Chopin lived a happy life in his boyhood.  He lived with family, blessed with friends in Warsaw and kept contacts with other countries.  I suppose that the most difficult time was when he decided to leave Poland.  If I talk about myself, I’m happy, I live with parents and sister.  I didn’t have difficult experience so I think I’m different from Chopin.  But when Chopin was young he was happy and so am I and it’s something common (laughing).  While you feel happiness in his works of early years, the dark and daunting sides appear in the works of later years. He expresses nostalgia, yearning for home”.

Remorse of ruined person; regret losing what he should have kept; a deep-seated grudge.  This artist was destined to misfortunes. But when I listen to Blechacz, first of all, I’m struck by the pure, clean and beautiful interpretation.

"Artists have higher sensitivity than ordinary people. Internally we are affected by an experience several times stronger.  This sensitivity helps us doing creation.  I suppose that characteristics of Chopin was polyhedric.  Therefore, he expressed multiple aspects of his nature in his works.  What I’m supposed to do as an interpreter is first of all understanding Chopin himself and his life in order to express Chopin’s view of the world through my self”.

How do you feel the idea that unhappiness can create art?  I don’t like it.

"Hardship may help when accepting and elaborating music work.  But it doesn’t mean that you cannot express without going through difficult experience.  As an artist, I can use my imagination.  I empathize with things that I have no experience and describe them through imagination. I believe this is more important for an artist”.  

But I think that Chopin’s works are his epitome.  So the performer must undertake Chopin’s life when replaying such works.

"Yes, typically Chopin’s life is represented in Mazurkas in a condensed manner.  For Chopin, music was a way to escape from the real life. He regarded music as savior.  He therefore sat in front of piano when he had hard time, playing and thinking.  I think he expressed the sufferings in notes".

Chopin music and “żal”

From an aspect of Polish music, Chopin's works are characterized by music for ethnic dance. Another thing is that there is a Polish word “żal” (noun), which seems to describe a nature unique to Poles. I’ve heard that “żal” means grudge, loneliness, sorrow and intensity – gloomy feelings closer to bitterness rather than nostalgia.  Is this about the true aspect of Chopin music that only the Poles can understand?

"If I describe Chopin music in a word, I think “żal” will exactly convey the nuance. You must abandon your country.  You are in a situation in which you cannot grow further as an artist if you remain in Poland.  Furthermore, you are torn apart from your family…Such experiences brought you pent-up feelings.  This is the feelings that Chopin and many other Poles had in those days.  You cannot live in your beloved country.  You cannot stay with your loved ones.  Poland was not independent as a nation, which caused the special feelings in people’s mind close to frustration or feelings between grudge and frustration.  Actually there were many artists – poets and writers who created similar works as Chopin.  As a Polish, I try hard to express such feelings peculiar to us through Chopin music”. 

My hope is that Blehcacz will live a happy life as human and live as a musician who can express the somber feelings, integral part of Chopin music. I sincerely hope that these two will be compatible for him.  Performers of today are faced with different kinds of difficulties than musicians and artists had in the past.  Where does Blechacz find such a difficulty?

"Today we have different problems from the past. We see a new problem emerging that was not perceived so far.  It can be said that there are always problems and obstacles facing us although how and when it happens is different.  It’s universal truth.”

As a Polish pianist

He says that he respects such predecessors as Paderewski, Rubinstein and Zimerman. I asked him how he feels about Rafał Blechacz as pianist and he laughed, saying,
"It’s difficult to talk about myself”.

"I’m very much honored to be in the list of laureates of Chopin competition, a part of the brilliant history.  I’m still at the preamble of my career and I think I should continue to learn”. 

in Nagano, Japan
June, 2007

He had a piano at home and he used to play it since his infancy.  As he continued, he found it comfortable to play piano and felt it meaningful to play it.
In other words, did you feel that you were loved by the piano?- I asked him.
The fact was that I loved piano. It was probably more important,  
he answered.

He also loves playing organ that he began at the age of four.  But what he really wants has always been playing piano.  When he was 12 or 13 years old, he composed some pieces for piano and organ.  If a new idea pops up in heart, he may possibly do composition again.  The young music enthusiast was given opportunities to go out to the world stage by winning at Hamamatsu and Chopin competitions.  What did such events bring to him?

"As a rule of the competition, I had to compete.  I don’t like competing with someone and probably it suffered me.  It was stressful to go through the three-week schedule but I didn’t feel that I had lost something although I had to pay a price.  There was a creeping danger soon after the competition.  I tried not to be swallowed by the swirling repercussions of the competition.  Initially I was troubled and many things were unknown.  Now, however, I have a person managing these things and the dust is settled.  I have Zimerman kindly supporting me via phone calls, giving me advices.  I can count on him anytime.  So I was able to shift gear”.  

Is there any time that he feels imposed the spell as “Chopin specialist”?  If I remember it correctly, Zimerman had time to try to avoid being labeled Chopin specialist for some years.

"As Pollini, Argerich and Zimerman did, I believe that it is necessary to work on music of other composers in order to play Chopin in more full-fledged manner rather than devoting myself to Chopin music only”.

And I asked if he likes football, and he said that he likes watching the game.

For the members of Polish national team, the time eventually will come to take off the uniform, but for you Mr. Blechacz, such a day might not come…

"Of course, I will be a Polish pianist for life.  But music is universal, common to everyone in the world.  So probably which country you belong to might not be so significant (compared to football)”.

Discover inner self in music work

The exquisite and delicate way of expressions built by the solid technique creates transparent and pure sounds.  The approach to be humble and get close to each work is favorable.

"I always try hard to sincerely convey a worldview of composers.  I’m glad that you see my performance like that”.

How does Blechacz think of the individuality of performers?

"Unlike Frederic Chopin who composed and performed, I devote myself to playing.  My role is to reproduce the worldview of the composer.  But not limited to performing, I should also be creative.  When dealing with Chopin’s works, I superimpose my emotions as a filter on top of his works.  It is very important to discover my inner self in Chopin’s work.  With technique and essential quality as pianist, I should establish a situation where I can add my own self to Chopin’s world.  It is actually the most difficult challenge for me.  If I find Chopin deep inside myself, then I believe it is my individuality”.  

The audience is on board the ship called Blechacz to navigate across the sea of Chopin.  How does the audience affect him in playing?

"It doesn’t make sense to play piano if there is no audience.  I have no choice but to be influenced by them.  The interchanges and contacts with the audience are quite important.  I should not forget the awareness that I play for such occasions.  My role for those who listen to my music is to guide them more effectively through the world of music”.

If your life as a musician is a book, which chapter are you navigating now?
"Hum, I don’t know.  Hopefully I want to be at earlier chapter rather than end part”.

What is the most fascinating thing that music only can do?

"The most favorite thing about music is that there is no language.  Music gives me a tool to convey all the messages only with sounds.  The performer is on par with the composer when elaborating his world. What I can communicate in this wordless world is significant”.  

(Note: The original Japanese text in this part is not clear.)

Cover of music monthly "Chopin", Oct.2006
(different magazine from this article)

Music is my life.

What brought you to perform classical music?

"Classical music fits well with my personality.  I’m rather quiet.  Since I was young, I’ve felt more comfortable when I’m with classical music.  I think it is because of my nature”.

By the way, for you, who is Rafał Blechacz?
"Well, he is a pianist.”

How is it if he is your friend?
"He is an artist, and an ordinary person.  He is common, wants to have time to relax”. 

Music, life and time; what does each of them mean for him?
"Among other things, music is my life.  Music is the best tool to express myself.  As for the passage of time, I feel that time passes most smoothly when I play music”.

If there is another Rafał Blechacz, when did he live for what?
"Perhaps I would play organ music mainly such as Bach regardless of the time.  If I had been born in the days of Chopin, I could have been his student”.

Student? Not his teacher?
"Of course I am his student”.

He modestly smiled and I asked him the most favorite word.  The answer was "music" as I expected.  Wherever he goes, the pure music always smiles at him.  I would like to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere for a long time.

(end of the article)

Jun 6, 2009

Pursuing dreams for next 20 years and beyond

The Times of London of June 4, 2009 had an insert about Poland "It began in Poland - Zaczelo sie w Polsce:
marking the 20th anniversary of the election of June 4, 1989 that ended communist rule".

The insert has an article titled "Global fame and fortune beckons for creative flyers",
where Agaton Kozinski lists talented young Poles making their names on the world stage.
Rafał Blechacz is included in the list.

"Another young Pole making waves is Rafał Blechacz.
The 24-year-old's victory in the 2005 Frederic Chopin International Piano Competition opened the doors
to the most prestigious concert halls in the world.
He released his first album in 2007".

Other names mentioned are:
Wilhelm Sasnal (painting and graphics), Tomasz Gudzowaty and Alex Lubomirski (photographic art),
Tomasz Baginski (short movie animation),
Adam Malysz, Agnieszka Radwanska, Robert Kubica, and Jerzy Dudek (sports),
Alicja Bachleda-Curus (a film-actress), Anja Rubik (a model)

(Thanks to Roman for the info.)

About a quarter of the world population were born after that turbulent year of 1989
when the first democratic election in east Europe was held in Poland, triggering political changes in the entire region.
20 years ago, Rafał Blechacz was three years old. He was about to show his talent.
How will be his next 20 years? (←The question that older people frequently ask.)

His recent answer from interview with Gazeta Pomorska:

"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".

Jun 5, 2009

Students given autograph by Blechacz -Nakło

A heartwarming story from Nakło.

Original story -Express Bydgoski as of June 5 (Polish)

Autographs from the master
Students thank the organization of series

"Sonatas by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart in the interpretation of Rafał Blechacz" was the last theme
before the summer holiday of "Music Thursday" in the library in Nakło.

"Dr. Andrzej Nyderek presented students with profiles of prominent composers.
Fragment of his lecture was devoted to the artistic achievements by Rafał Blechacz.
Guests also heard a few of his works",
informed Jolanta Dabrowska of the District and Municipal Public Library in Nakło,
where "Music Thursday" has been organized since autumn of last year.

Rafał Blechacz, unfortunately, was unable to attend the gathering, but at the request of the library,
gave his autographs for participants of the music meeting.

"A very pleasant, unexpected gift was given to us, library staff, meeting participants,
who at the last meeting before the holidays thanked the organization with their flowers.
We thank them for that and welcome them in autumn!"
added Grażyna Ozga, director of the library.

Jun 4, 2009

Mozart sonata in C major k545 by Blechacz

Rafał Blechacz's recording of "sonatas -haydn, beethoven, mozart" has a version which includes one additional track.
You can buy it on-line; downloading the track for a charge.

The track is the 1st movement of Mozart sonata in C major k545 - allegro.
I knew about this track just recently when I chatted with a French fan of Blechacz.
With her help, I was able to get the track and listened to it. (Merci beaucoup.)

It was...
beautiful, purifying, clean, brilliant, super..!!

Surprising that this simple sonata can be played like this..

Comments by those who listened to this piece.

Fan A:
"I'm happy. What an exquisite touch he has!
I'm teary-eyed listening to his changing tones at the recapitulation of F Major after the Minor part.
In a recent posting on your blog, a Spanish fan said that his hands are like a pair of white doves
and I'm of the same view.
He is so sophisticated.
This piece is the evidence that he is a real talent".

Fan B:
"I love the sound of the piano, especially in his pianos (nuance, not instrument :p)"

Fan C:
"Rafał plays so beautifully that I could listen it non-stop.
Now I can understand beauty of Mozart's sonatas;
nobody played them in this way with a big joy, sensitivity, clean sound.
You can't believe that this sonata is played by the same pianist who plays eg. Szymanowski.
Rafał feels fantastically the composer and his epoch".

Fan D (←it's me.)
"It gives me the energy of youthfulness and hope when I'm tired of complicated stuff in life.
His music makes me believe that life is beautiful.
I like in particular the way he crisply plays graced notes on crescendo in measures 22 & 23".

You can buy the track from the relevant web site in your country.

Example: French site  
For demo listening, please click on the triangle on the 11th track.

This is one of US sites.
This site is for CD, not for downloading, but demo listening is available.
Please click on the green triangle.

In the same manner, his recording of "Chopin - The Complete Preludes" has a version with one additional track
which is Chopin's Mazurka op50-1.
Please check the relevant web site.

Example: French site.
For demo listening, please click on the triangle on the 29th track.

Note: DG says that "the bonus track is only available on iTunes.
There does not exist a physical CD that has the bonus track included",
according to the reply mail to an US resident for the question about the track.

I think (maybe) this reply doesn't always apply; it depends on markets.
e.g. I got the Mozart track from above-mentioned French site; and
The CD Preludes containing the bonus track (mazurka) exists in Japan market.

If you have a difficulty in getting these tracks, pleas e-mail me.
E-mail address is at About this site/contact.

Dnevnik, a Slovenian paper, reports that Blechacz will play Chopin concerto No.2
with The Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur, the oldest orchestra in Switzerland
at national concert hall in Maribor, the 2nd largest city in Slovenia sometime in the next season.

Dnevnik (Slovenian)
Machine-translated English

Jun 1, 2009

Blechacz played organ at local church

Gazeta on May 31, 2009 quoted Katolicka Agencja Informacyjna reporting
that Rafał Blechacz played a renovated organ at local church.

Original article (Polish)

Łochowo: Rafał Blechacz played a concert on the restored organ.

The world-renowned Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz appeared today for an organ concert
in St. Kazimierz Church in Łochowo.
With the restored organ by Wilhelm Sauer he played works by Bach, Schubert and Schumann.
The artist comes from Nakło nad Notecią, about a dozen kilometers away.

The instrument underwent a major renovation since August of last year.
It was built by the protestant community in 1900, and then placed in the temple.
When Archbishop Henryk Muszynski consecrated church in 2002, he encouraged hosts to take up the work of conservation of the organ
- says Fr. Janusz Sawicki of St. Kazimierz Church in Łochowo.

St. Kazimierz Church in Łochowo

The work was made possible through the support of numerous sponsors and the faithful.
After the renewal of an instrument - the cost of renovation was 150 thousand PLN - the idea of organizing concerts emerged.
"We want the instrument to be used, and the people to be able to learn about the beauty of music.
When I suggested a meeting with Rafał Blechacz, it was gladly welcomed.
He is an exceptional man and I think it will be a very great experience for each of us", said Fr. Sawicki.

The artist himself said that after the victory in Chopin Competition, his life drastically changed.
He wanted to play and hold concerts for people throughout the world.
Today the wish is met.
Rafał Blechacz added that a strong foundation and point of reference to everyday life is faith in the God.
"This is very help in my life. Particularly in times when it is not easy", he confessed.

Blechacz stressed that fascination for music started with the organ, when going to church and listening to it.
"Usually I'm in the parish church in Nakło nad Notecią, Saint Lawrence's Church.
Even now when the piano is my biggest passion, I'm willing to sit down and play, especially the works of Bach.
It is in some way an assist in the pianistic interpretation.
The restored instrument in Łochowo makes even the most delicate voice heard",
pointed out the famous pianist.

Bydgoszcz in Jan. 2007 (not the church of this article)

Polish Radio reported the same article on June 3 (English).