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Nov 29, 2009

Leading critics highly praise Blechacz (Japan) (3)

From "Excellent CDs of Classical Music – Volume for Musicians",
Koho Uno's thoughts on Rafał Blechacz's recording.

Read Takeshi Nakano's thoughts on Blechacz's recordings.


Koho Uno:
Born in 1930. Graduated from Dept. of vocal music, Kunitachi College of Music.
Music critic, conductor.
Author of many books of music. 





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

It seems that I have a keen nose for a musician;
with Richard Goode some years ago and Fazil Say more recently, guided by something mysterious, I went to their concerts although I was in a situation which would never allow me to be there because of job or health condition.

This was also the case with Rafał Blechacz.
I didn’t know why but one day a CD by a pianist whose name I hadn’t heard caught my eyes and it urged me to "listen to it immediately".
I felt I must follow the voice and began listening.
The first movement of Mozart’s Sonata k.311 made me astounded.
It was really something!!

With comfortable tempo of allegro, his exhilarating brilliant, charming and matched tones are enjoyably dancing about.
I have never ever heard a pianist with such natural and marvelously even finger flows.

Technically, he is an unusually proficient pianist! That’s said, he is never unexpressive or monotonous, rather gets perfect score for sophisticated good taste.
More than anything else, his finest sensitivity when playing pianississimo is electrifying and drove me crazy.
Usually I like to listen to the music with the possible highest volume; but for Blechacz, I lowered the volume remarkably not to compromise his delicate, exquisite tones.

Later I came to know that this pianist won the 2005 Chopin International Piano Competition.
I talked about this to Ms. Yukiko Hagiya and she said,

“Today it is difficult not to know Rafał Blechacz. I believe you are the only one who doesn’t know him, Uno-sensei,” she smiled.
(sensei= teacher, professor)

So what? It doesn’t matter whether or not I know him. I don’t care if he is the winner of the big prize. I don’t care if he is famous or not.

For me it took only the first 30 seconds to understand the phenomenal technique and musicality Blechacz has. It doesn’t take his achievements or name. Let alone opinions of other people.
What I trust is my ears only. What matters is the music per se.

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

Mr.Koho Uno's evaluation: ★★★★☆

Mozart Piano Sonata No.9 k.311: performance ★★★★★   recording ★★★★★

"sonatas-haydn, mozart, beethoven": performance ★★★★☆  recording ★★★★★



**To be continued. Next installment will be Mr.Akiyasu Fukushima's thoughts on Blechacz.   

Nov 27, 2009

Review of Blechacz CD Chopin Concertos (Spain)

A review of Rafał Blechacz's CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" written by Cosme Marina, posted on La Nueva España, an independent daily in Asturias (northern Spain) on December 2, 2009.

Original review (Spanish)

The renovated Chopin by Blechacz

The aesthetic freedom of a young interpreter

In the history of piano literature the figure of the Polish composer Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) occupies a central place. The romantic piano is without doubt one of the most fertile periods of the instrument and Chopin’s standard from the conception of imaginative proposals continues to attract and excite successive generations of music lovers.

The world of the piano is one of the most complex musical fabric as much or more than the song. And the interpretation of the great writers is a matter of enormous importance and significance.

More so in the case of the Polish composer who requires high levels of expressive refinement. You cannot ignore that in the emergence of more furious Romanticism, the keyboard became an incredible vehicle for individual creative expression which was upgraded to reach a maximum potentiality.

Hence, for authors who occupies our mind, a mere exercise of virtuosity serves rather little. Or frankly not at all.

Chopin configured a particular creative universe in which his two concertos for piano and orchestra became important issues in his career. They are works in which classical architecture wears a romantic spirit where shines the deep emotion that surrounds his musical ideas.

His music has been approached by many. Those who leave footprint are less, and in our days, it is difficult to find interpreters who provide substance when approaching Chopin’s legacy, despite the extreme toughness and competitiveness with which pianists are forced to live. Perhaps the cause of the shortage is in the hastiness and the dizzying pace with which young performers are thrown to the cycle, maipulated mercilessly by the multinationals. The careers take time to mature, with successes and mistakes.





Rafał Blechacz won the Chopin Prize in 2005 and since then, has maintained an international career in the elite who have, in fact, Chopin's music as one of their strengths.

Now the impression is that he holds the rein of his career and his plans are cared well and rested. Blechacz publishes now for Deutsche Grammophon Chopin’s two concertos with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Jerzy Semkow.

His two versions are very interesting, vibrant, full of vigor and, at the same time, thoughtful, not impulsive.

In Blechacz’s interpretation, aesthetic freedom can be perceived that fits very well with the lyricism of Chopin. This album shows a good example of the maturity of the Polish pianist at the keyboard in the artistically honest work seeking for the profoundness way above the immediate shortcut.

Blechacz has a long career ahead, and given his current situation, he should go further, to be embedded as one of the leaders of the piano. Enjoying his Chopin is now a pleasant exercise full of suggestions and nuances in which you can hear and have a glimpse of his projection.




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

A short comment on the U.K.site (TV&Showbiz)
Scroll down to the bottom.

"Being Polish and a Chopin Competition winner, Rafal Blechacz is going to find himself playing a lot of Chopin. These are beautiful performances, but I noticed more 'spontaneous' touches in the studio recording of the F minor Concerto than in the live version of the E minor. **** "

(Author is not specified.) 

Nov 26, 2009

Review of Blechacz new CD (South Africa)

Review posted on the site of Classic fM, South African radio station, on November 26.
↓ Copy of the review


CHOPIN – RAFAL BLECHACZ
The Piano Concertos
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Jerzy Semkow – Conductor
Deutsche Grammophon CD 00289 8088

“Blechacz’s approach was supple and stayed poised and focused even in the heat of the first movement’s development. There is nothing contrived about his playing; he seems utterly instinctive, with a wonderfully natural sense of rubato through the long-spun phrases of the slow movement, and exuberance kept perfectly in check in the finale.” The Guardian, London (review of the E minor Concerto)

“The perfect musician to perform the young Chopin’s works…”
Gazeta Wyborcza Poland.

After the tremendous success of the previous two albums (Chopin – The Complete Preludes and Sonatas – Haydn, Mozart & Beethoven) Blechacz decided to celebrate the coming year of Chopin in 2010 (the 200th anniversary of his birth) by the recording of both Piano Concertos. By now, it is fairly well accepted that Poland has not produced a pianist of this stature since the times of Artur Rubinstein and as a Chopin specialist he is already in a class of his own.

Chopin was only 19 years of age when he composed the two concertos, it was during a happy time in his life when he was still living in Warsaw with family and friends. Both the opening movements are full of energy and youthful vigour, while the closing movements are optimistic and full of joy. In both concertos the lyrical second movements are the heart and soul of the works demanding taxing expressive abilities.

This is a marvellous recording/ performance with no trace of vanity or showmanship – everything is in the service of the music. If anything Blechacz’s sensitivity and clarity is akin to that of Chopin himself.


by Mike Ford
  

Leading critics highly praise Rafał Blechacz (Japan)(2)

From "Excellent CDs of Classical Music – Volume for Musicians”,
Takeshi Nakano's thoughts on Rafał Blechacz's recordings.

Takeshi Nakano:
Born in 1931. Graduated from Law School, University of Tokyo.
Former representative director of Kenwood Corporation.
Music producer. Author of many books, writings of music.

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

You might feel I’m prejudiced if I say that the two international competitions – Chopin and Tchaikovsky lost former authority after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, although there had been signs of that four years before during the Perestroika.
Holding a music competition requires money. During the cold war period, governments extended financial aid to keep national prestige but once the east-west confrontation ended governmental supports were drastically reduced. It’s a strange phenomenon but real.
It was companies in the private sector which supplemented the financial shortage-- companies such as manufacturers of audio equipment and music instruments. We’ve heard dark rumors since then although we don’t know the truth of them. If you look at the world of piano, we see much less number of advents of star-caliber pianists equivalent to the class of Argerich and Pollini. Therefore, it was not easy for me to add new excellent pianists for this book. I couldn’t come up with a player of “bright future” from the generation after Zimerman.

Then came a recommendation from Koho Uno - sensei (sensei=teacher, professor).
He asserted,
“Blechacz must be included in the book!” as well as Fazil Say.

Uno-sensei's instrustion;
“Haydn played by Fazil Say is good. As for Blechacz, his Mozart k.311 is exceptionally outstanding.”

Rafał Blechacz is the winner of Chopin Competition who appeared in Poland for the first time in 30 years since Zimerman.

With his acute insight, Uno-sensei is one of the few prominent critics in the world who have successfuly discovered many new talents.
If Uno-sensei recommends Blechacz, Blechacz should be excellent.

Then I received a set of demo CDs sent to me but I passed them on to Mr.Fukushima without listening to them.
Instead I purchased all the CDs by Blechacz available at music store and shortly I found it was a right decision.
I was very happy to be able to own my Blechacz's CDs.

Argerich and Pollini were pianists who changed the history of piano playing.
Pieces of Liszt and Prokofiev played by Argerich and Chopin’s etudes, famous recording and Boulez’s second sonata played by Pollini were epoch-making recordings which transformed the standard of technique for playing piano in modern period.

The shocking memory of hearing Argerich and Pollini suddenly revived when I listened to Blechacz’s CD containing sonatas by three Vienna classical composers.

Blechacz's finger attack is strong but never offending to ears.
I believe that his finger tips always capture the core of each key with the ideal intensity.

He does so not to show off his technique or beautiful sounds but to accurately narrate musical messages by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart which were imprinted on scores with his own languages – by the pianist’s words.

As far as I know, Chopin's Preludes played by Blechacz is the most excellent performance since those by Cortot. He plays these pieces with different pianism from playing the Vienna classical composers with nuanced touch of the Romantic school's music.
His playing Chopin Piano Concertos is also superb.

We've got an awesome and formidable pianist appearing in front of us.


(Note: Blue colored words are the words that Mr.Nakano underlined in the book.)
-----------------------
Mr.Nakano's evaluations: ★★★★★

"sonatas-haydn, mozart, beethoven: performance★★★★★  recording★★★★★

Chopin "Complete Preludes": performance★★★★★  recording★★★★★

Chopin "The Piano Concertos": performance★★★★★  recording★★★★★

Nov 25, 2009

Mazurka No.13 available on Blechacz's new CD

Chopin Mazurka No.13 or op.17-4 played by Rafał Blechacz is downloadable from iTunes,
as a bonus track of his new album “Chopin The Piano Concertos”.

Please check if the track is available in your country’s iTunes store.

Easier way is:
Please go to this site: iTunes page in Spain.

Please click on "Ver en iTunes" at Mazurkas op.17
and iTunes store's Blechacz page of your country will open if you have iTunes installed.

In Japan, the track is available for 150 yen.


I believe it is an encore that Blechacz played at the concert in Amsterdam Concertgebouw
for recording Chopin Concertos on July 2.

If so, you MUST listen to the historical performance.


A Polish reviewer suggested in September that the Mazurka will be offered as a bonus.


If you scroll down the Spanish iTunes page and click on Blechacz’s other albums, “sonatas” and “Complete Preludes”
you can check if other bonus tracks are available in your country:

Mozart sonata No.16 1st movement on “sonatas” and
Chopin Mazurka op.50-1 on “Complete Preludes”.
    

Nov 24, 2009

Leading critics highly praise Blechacz (Japan) (1)

“Excellent CDs of Classical Music – Volume for Musicians” was published on November 20 in Japan.
One hundred musicians – conductors, pianists and string instrumentalists have been selected as excellent,
and Rafał Blechacz has been included in the list of master pianists.


This is a revision of the original edition issued in 2000, written by three influential music critics in Japan:

Koho Uno (Mr. Big in music critics’ circles)
Takeshi Nakano (Producer, former executive of Kenwood Corporation)
Akiyasu Fukushima (leading critic of younger generation)

The excellent pianists that they have selected are:
Alfred Cortot, Elly Ney, Wilhelm Backhaus, Arthur Rubinstein, Clara Haskil, Wilhelm Kempff, Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Horowitz, Lili Kraus, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Dinu Lipatti, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Alfred Brendel, Glenn Gould, Eric Heidsieck, Martha Argerich, Maurizio Pollini, Murray Perahia, Mitsuko Uchida, Cyprien Katsaris, Krystian Zimerman, Mikhail Pletnev, Jean-Marc Luisada, Ivo Pogorelic, Fazil Say, Evgeny Kissin, and Rafał Blechacz.

In the revised book, the red colored pianists are newly added (or exactly speaking, they replaced other pianists.
For example, Samson François was removed from the latest book.)


The three critics have different value and sensitivity, and voice their opinions on the recordings of the selected artists without mincing words.
It is “exciting” to read ruthless critical opinions given to “established masters”
and I was impressed by their views on Blechacz.
All speak highly of Blechacz, they didn’t find any fault with his recordings;
their views are quite similar to those of myself and others in general public who purely love Blechacz’s playing.


I would like to find time to introduce their views on Blehcacz’s recordings.
Koho Uno wrote about Blechacz’s Sonata k.311 by Mozart twice.
They were published on Sankei Newspaper (National daily) last year and "Mostly Classic" (music monthly) earlier this year.
What Uno wrote in the latest book is more or less the same.


  

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.



Nov 22, 2009

Review of Blechacz new CD (Japan) (1)

Review of Rafał Blechacz's new CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos",
written by Kazuhiko Utasaki, in "Record Geijutsu (=music, arts)" December, 2009 edition,
published on November 20.

Utasaki wrote liner notes for Blechacz's previous CD "sonatas" Japanese version last year.




As I expected from his performances in Preludes by Chopin and Vienna Classical Sonatas, this performance of Chopin’s two Concertos couldn’t be more proper. For Rafał Blechacz, the first Polish winner of on the Chopin Competition since Krystian Zimerman, these concertos are where he is at his strongest.

With the complete control over the pieces, his performances are stable, flowing comfortably, living up to all our expectations. Listening to him playing honestly and unfolding music in a well-balanced manner, you can sense his inner self-confidence. Although he doesn’t sprinkle especially unique expressions, his playing is full of youthful spirits and feelings of vitality.

His sound - transparent, thoroughly polished and not too much stiff goes well with these pieces. While exhaustively expressing details he never fails to be natural. Amazing!

The way he begins playing the solo part in the first movement of E minor concerto is majestic. He was able to bring out merits of the piece by paying attention to the smallest detail in the first motif of the development section. The clear sound and poetic sentiments in playing the second movements of the two concertos are beautiful. The noble expression not turning into excessive suggestiveness is just like characteristic of Blechacz.

Sometimes I felt he is too conservative. I wish I could hear his daring to demonstrate his sharp technique in the final movements, but it is a part of musicality of this young and well-mannered pianist.

The orchestra part is performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The attractive sound of this prestigious orchestra could be emphasized more, but Semkow, a veteran Polish conductor took a fair and square way and generously supports Blechacz’s solo part in a thought-out manner.
[The CD is strongly recommended.]
(by Kazuhiko Utasaki)



The 7th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition (November 8 - 23) completed the final stage performances today and selected Cho Seong-Jin, 15 year-old Korean secondary school student as the winner.
Four out of six finalists were Koreans.
Performances streaming

Rafał Blechacz was given the second prize in the 5th Hamamatsu Competition (2003) and no 1st prize was awarded.



Hiroko Nakamura, head of the jury with Cho Seong-Jin, the winner



**I was planning to go to Tokyo Suntory Hall this weekend for a recital by a Jewish-American pianist but was informed that he was infected with H1N1 swine flu virus, developing into pneumonia, and the entire Japan tour was cancelled.
Sincerely hope that he will recover soon.
Some of my acquaintances have been affected by the epidemic.

All the musicians, music lovers, everybody, please be careful!!
Don't let the flu prevail!!

Nov 21, 2009

Blechacz CD sites (Germany, Norway, Italy)








CD tips on German site
Rafał Blechacz "Chopin The Piano Concertos"

by Christian Rupp

"Clacked and sobbed yesterday - today, interpreters have long been pursuing the active, dynamic Chopin. Just like Rafał Blechacz. He takes the two piano-concertos of Chopin with virtually unbelievable youthful strength in his new album. This fits? And how! Blechacz shows the emotional content of these pieces also through same impetuous pressure, exuberant joy can break forth in an undreamt-of wave. A wave, that sweeps and fills with enthusiasm".

Original (German)
Please click on Rafał's picture.






Chopin
Romantische Klaviermusik by Argerich, Ashkenazy, Blechacz, Pletnev, etc...
Launched on November 20.
Amazon.de
Klassik Akzente







Welt Edition: 1.Polnische Seele im Exil
Chopin by Lang,L./Blechacz,R./Barenboim,D., etc...
To be launched on December 4.
Amazon.de
Klassik Akzente




I found that Amazon.de (Germany) offers all the CDs by Blechacz, including CDs of compilation with other artists and Japan import versions.
For example,
Rafał Blechacz 1 for 2005 Chopin Competition, 1st & 2nd round stages except for Sonata No.3,

Rafał Blechacz 2 for 2005 Chopin Competition, final stage (Concerto in E minor) & Sonata No.3,

and
Piano Recital (Japanese CD title is "Heroic Polonaise"), debut CD by Blechacz, containing Schumann Sonata No.2, Liszt Concert Studies, Debussy Suite Bergamasque, Szymanowski Variations in B flat minor and Chopin Polonaise No.6.
(This debut CD is currently available in Poland, Japan and UK.)




Amazon.de offers even Chopin Piano Concertos, Japan version



Blechacz CD site in Norway., connected to HMV, UK.

CD sites in Argentina, connected to Amazon.com.

CD site in Italy, advertizing Blechacz's concerts in Italy in January, 2010.

"Pianist Rafał Blechacz is back to his beloved Chopin with an exceptional team: the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by renowned Jerzy Semkow.
After his debut for Deutsche Grammophon with Chopin Preludes that have sold over 60,000 copies worldwide, the winner of the Chopin International Competition deals with these two legendary concertos with a recording that will soon become the reference in Chopin repertoire, heralding the coming 200th anniversary of the birth of the composer".

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

Rafał Blechacz: 'Piano Sonata of Haydn, Beethoven & Mozart'
reviewed by Jens Cornelius @ DR Forside (Danish site)

The Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz has many, many years to enjoy.
Although he is just 23 years old, he is a shrewd, poetic and brilliant soloist.
He emerged in 2005 when he became the first Pole since 1975 who won the great Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
Blechacz was so superb that the jury chose not to distribute any 2nd prize.

After his competitive victory, he recorded a single CD in Poland and then immediately had a contract with the international record label Deutsche Grammophon.
His first record for them was with Chopin Præludes and it gave Rafał Blechacz a gold plate after one day of sales in Poland - and platinum two weeks later.

On his new CD he plays completely different works.
Vienna Classical sonatas by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart - there is no more classical than this one.

The three sonata are the works that Rafał Blechacz has played for years,
and he shows many interesting differences from and similarities to the major pianists.

For example. the sonata by the young Beethoven sonata was written when the old Haydn was Beethoven's teacher.
It is more virtuoso music than one might think,
but in Rafał Blechacz's view, the technically difficult passagess are not more impressive than the musical context.

Reason and clarity rather than bragging are characteristic of this CD,
as the English music magazine "The Gramophone" clearly calls Rafał Blechacz's CD the best so far.

Original article is here. (Danish)

(Blechacz performed Chopin concerto E minor with Tivoli Symphony Orchestra
on Aug.8, 2007.)

Another review by Jakub Puchalski (Polish).

------------
 Recital program for 2009 Japan Tour has been updated.

The current program
Mozart: Piano Sonata No.16 in B-flat major K.570

Beethoven: Piano Sonata in A-major Op.2-2

Chopin: 4 mazurek Op.17

Chopin: Polonaise No.6 in A-flat major, Op.53 "Heroic"

Szymanowski: Variations in B-flat Minor for piano op.3

Nov 20, 2009

Short review on Blechacz's new CD (Japan)

Excerpt from a review on CDs of this month including Rafał Blechacz's new album "Chopin The Piano Concertos"
by Yoshiko Ikuma from "Ongaku-no-tomo (Music as a friend)" December 2009.




Farewell to the older master and vigor by the young pianist

If I had been one of those present there, how happy I would have been…
This is what all those who listen to this CD must feel.
To put an end to his 60 years’ career by the end of 2008, Alfred Brendel energetically toured for “farewell” recitals in the year.
It was recorded and “The Farewell Concert” has been released as live recording.

The program comprising his favorite Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert gives us profound feeling,
conveying songs of his heart.
I feel as if I sat at the concert hall.

I talked with several pianists who came to Japan recently for giving concerts.
They witnessed Brendel's final stage and saw him leaving quietly with a peaceful smile
while many in the audience were in tears…


Music is mysterious. There are times that a melody bring a vivid memory bakc to me.
I listened to Rafał Blechacz’s new album “Chopin The Piano Concertos”
and that feeling that had me sitting on the edge of my seat at the 2005 Chopin Competition came back.

I lose my presence of mind when hearing the finale of Concerto in E minor.
It remains as fresh in my memory as though it happened yesterday
that on his finishing playing I jumped up from the seat shouting “Yes! He is the winner!”

Of course he performed many concerts since then in many places and the latest recording was presented as highly polished music.
But for me the essence of Blechacz music – purely coming close up to the soul of the composer – remains the same.

Perfect coordination with Semkow, the maestro he respects and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra after repeatedly performing with.
What a heartwarming gift that Blechacz offers to us, heralding the coming Chopin Year.



Ms.Ikuma writes of Blechacz many times.
Example1 2 3
All the articles by Ikuma on this site. 




Nov 17, 2009

Beautiful organ play impressed local residents

Recently I've seen articles that Bydgoszcz will elect ambassadors of the region for "Science", "Economy", "Culture and Arts" and "Sports," and voting process will last until early December,
and Rafał Blechacz is one of the candidates of the Ambassador for Culture and Arts.
Gazeta Pomorska on November 15 posted a page for Rafał Blechacz to introduce him as a candidate.

I'm not in a position to comment on this but I saw a few lines demonstrating warm personality of Blechacz.
It is about an organ concert that Blechacz gave for a church in Łochowo.

Last year, the priest of the parish church of Łochowo asked Blechacz to play an organ recital at church and he gladly accepted the request.
The artist said then that a strong foundation and point of reference to everyday life is faith in God.
"It helps a lot in life. Especially in times when it is not easy" - he said.

- It was amazing - says Ms Ania Kulpicka, a resident of the village.
She says that all the residents were welcomed by Blechacz with smile and he gladly gave autograph to them. He gave the concert not only for free, he played it really beautifully.

The article doesn't specify the date of the concert, but I guess it is the concert at the end of May.
See the related story.


Bishop Jan Tyrawa dedicated the historic organ at St. Kazimierz Church in Łochowo.
, Nov.17
, Gazeta Wyborcza reports.
The article also mentions that Blechacz had sat at the organ before.





TVP Kultura (TV in Poland) will broadcast Blechacz's performance of Chopin Concerto in E minor at the 2005 Chopin Competition,
at 10:30 on November 22.

Nov 16, 2009

Reviews of Blechacz's Chopin Concertos (Poland)

Review of Rafał Blechacz's CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" by Jowita Dziedzic-Golec, RMF Classic

Original review (Polish)


Pianist far from glitz

Foreign critics called him an architect of sound. They say that "he wraps the audience around his ten fingers (he wins over the audience’s hearts with his ten fingers)," and that "whoever wants to understand Chopin, he must listen to Rafał Blechacz." They are right. Blechacz, similarly - though with his right way - as Krystian Zimerman used to be, discovers Chopin afresh. He gives music of our nation’s composer, by no means of self-centered music. You could say that it is clean, not out of order and pianistic art at the highest level.

After the success of the previous two CDs (with recordings of Chopin's Preludes and Sonatas by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart), the artist decided to celebrate the coming Chopin Year 2010 with the recording of two piano concertos by Fryderyk Chopin. The pianist was accompanied by the excellent Concertgebouw Orchestra, which last year acquired the title of world's best orchestras under the baton of Maestro Jerzy Semkow. This is the third album of Rafał Blechacz for Deutsche Grammophon, and from what I remember the fourth at all, because the first was released with other colors. Well, with the new album, the pianist once again confirmed that his success was no accident. It shows how very matured - despite his young age - he is as an artist.

Chopin was also very young when writing these concerts, even younger than Rafał, he composed them at the age of 19 and 20 years old. They were his first really significant works after completing studies. After publicly presented for the first time in March and October 1830 in the National Theater, the concertos met with great appreciation. Mauricy Mochnacki wrote in Kurier Polski (Polish courier): "Indeed! Making his name widely known, who in his youth begins so". They combine his virtuosity and romance.

Brilliant style reached its apogee in them, but at the same time it was, to say goodbye for good. Chopin’s Concertos with concerto in G minor by Mendelssohn and A minor by Schumann are actually the essence of the Romantic concerto.
The question: for pianists what is the most important in these concertos?
Rafał Blechacz answers: "a sense of their emotional nature, the emotional nuances.
And he added: "We must allow ourselves some freedom of interpretation, depending on an inspiration that appears at a given moment and a given location.
Therefore the environment is also important: atmosphere of the hall, and rapport with the conductor is even more important." As for the place, the registration of that album was made in the Concertgebouw hall and there his live concert was held, where Rafał Blechacz completely won the hearts of the Dutch audience.

It has been four years since Rafał Blechacz decisively won the 15th Chopin Competition. The modest 20 yearl old from Nakło has already toured for a considerable amount of concerts throughout the world and made progress of good deal with the phonographic tycoon. But fortunately it is still the same Blechacz - far from the glitzy pianist.
Jowita Dziedzic-Golec, RMF Classic


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





Another review by Dominik Górny

Original review (Polish)


Music which believes in goodness

Skillful playing the compositions of Frederic Chopin creates music where others failed to render feelings of human soul – the sounds on the latest album of Rafał Blechacz thought its echo.

The renowned pianist interprets passion of Chopin's sound, allowing us not only to hear them, but truly experience.

In music lies the truth about man
CD "Chopin - Rafał Blechacz” is the third in the achievements of the young pianist album recorded for the prestigious label "Deutsche Grammophon". Artistic publishing program creates one of the most admired and "picturesque" piano concertos by Chopin: in E minor and F minor. Forefront of their sound brings out the piano, which with all its sound unveils the mysteries of the concert hall in Amsterdam - Concertgebouw.

Of the most importance in his secrets is expressed in the fact that it is the most favorite concert hall for Rafał Blechacz. He chose it as the dream place to record an album shortly after winning the Chopin Competition in 2005, when he performed, inter alia, the concerto in E minor, which is recorded on his current album. It is also unique in this view that Blechacz has not yet recorded for Deutsche Grammophon "concertos accompanied by orchestras. Listening to the harmony that is achieved in dialogue with the piano, it is easy to recognize that this is a dream orchestra and conductor, with whom the pianist understands well each other. Understanding and common artistic inherence are given to the listeners of the CD, convincing them how the notes can attain the fullness of happiness only when they do not have a sense of loneliness. Unification of sounds gives even the sacred word presented by Chopin's compositions - a single sound can not create a concerto, in the same manner a lonely man, without reference to what he hears in the heart of his fellows, is unable to see the full dimension of the beauty given by God.

Soul of Chopin Concerto
Music "crowned" by the sounds of the Royal Orchestra under the baton of Jerzy Semkow makes you want to listen to the story. The artists who transformed music characters in sounds, read the notes as if they were Chopin's diary. It can bring up the impression that the piano is a narrator and orchestral instruments are protagonists of events. Immediately recall the times in which the two concerts were created. When composing them, Chopin was less than twenty years old, and his life, spent with friends, was "sunny" - just like a musical interpretation of Blechacz, who reflects the romantic nature of the works of Chopin.

With successive sounds flowing from the CD, we feel as if we were wandering along with Chopin in villages of Mazowsze, where the rhythm of life inspired the music of his teenage years. And exactly about their delight and hope, Blechacz narrates with his playing. We sincerely listen to the joy of "words" of his piano, who appreciate the spiritual depths of more than a show of virtuosity.

The secret of Chopin's music is Polishness
Rafał Blechacz - as he himself admits - listens to the "heart of compositions". Because of that we are getting closer to the intentions of piano concertos, which allows us to "remember" Polishness. All through Krakowiak "dancing" in the sound of Concerto in E minor or Mazurka, whose motives are revived in Concerto in F minor. What's more, Blechacz’s individual distinction, by means of the "Polish" style of piano playing, exuding the love of his native land. From this perspective, Rafał Blechacz - world-renowned pianist, is valued precisely for his "Polish-ness". It is not surprising, therefore, that listening to his latest CD, we have the impression that he wanted to "play" the words that Chopin once wrote in letters: "Polish fields have left some yearning inside me – the birch beneath the window could not leave my memory."

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks to Dana and Roman for the data.
Sorry for the delay of posting them.




Nov 15, 2009

MDR KLASSIK to broadcast Blechacz's CD Nov.16

MDR KLASSIK (Germany) will broadcast Chopin Concerto in E minor from Rafał Blechacz's CD
at 19:00 - 20:00 on Monday, November 16. (CET)

To listen to the program, MDR KLASSIK
Please click on "Radio hören".

ARD.de site gives introduction of Blechacz and description of the concerto

Chopin, Frédéric (1810-1849) Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op 11 (for piano and orchestra) Blechacz, Rafał (piano) Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam Semkow, Jerzy Recording: July 2009

One likes to pursue the development of the young Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, also on the basis of his discography.
After the sonatas of Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart and the Chopin-Preludes, he now passes the next musical milestone with the two Chopin Concertos on his newest CD.

A Zürich concert review certifies his performance of the E minor Concerto,
“It sounded immaculate, in natural virtuosity.
While transforming the technical brilliance into aesthetic quality, Blechacz brings the innovative kick to almost glassy, crystalline Chopin's joint work with him”.

We pursue this career gladly further, which stands only at the beginning.
Also Frédéric Chopin wrote his two piano concertos at the beginning of his career. Dedicated to one of the most celebrated pianists of his time, Friedrich Kalkbrenner, the Piano Concerto in E minor was first performed on October 11, 1830 in Warsaw.
It was created timewise after the concerto in F minor, however this then turned into the "second" because it was published later.
For Chopin, it was a happy time. After concluding his study, he lived with his family in Warsaw, much composed, but participated also in discussions with the intellectual elite in the Polish capital. To his first love, Konstancja Gladkowska, the sensitive middle movements of both concertos were dedicated.
Back to the Larghetto of the E minor concerto Chopin wrote: "a thousand dear memories appear before my eyes."
  

Nov 14, 2009

Blechacz enruptured Baden-Baden (recital review)

Rafał Blehcacz gave a matinee recital at Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Germany on October 3.

The website of Festspielhaus posted a short review on the recital.
Please scroll down to the middle of the page to see the review on Blechacz.




Blechacz at Festspielhaus Baden-Baden on October 3.



Rafał Blechacz enraptured the audience at the Festspielhaus

Another highlight of the autumnal festivals advanced a solo-appearance of the young Polish pianist and Chopin prize winner Rafał Blechacz in the matinee on Saturday.

Refreshingly, with what appeared sympathetic understatement, this young man stepped on the podium of the Festspielhause, sat down at the piano and already knew how to bewitch listeners with the first notes of Bach's Italian Concerto.

The protégé of legendary pianist Krystian Zimerman is one of the greatest discoveries of the last time and proved this more impressively in the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden once again.

The exclusive artist for Deutsche Grammophon managed in a delicate and sparkling manner Mozart Piano Sonata KV 570, and his tonal nuance was well balanced in the works of Chopin.

The heading of the review in Badisches Tagblatt (daily newspaper) was: "Chopin in a natural river and classical clarity."
An excerpt from this discussion:

"Blechacz’s sensitivity, which can generate so much tender delicacy in Chopin, justifies his versatility at the same time.

In the early B-flat minor variations of Karol Szymanowski ... it shows all the facets of his polished, very economically used technique that can also barrage wildly in breakneck octaves and chord chains”.


See reviews on Blechacz's recital in Hamburg, Germany on Oct.6.


***
TV page of Australian Central Queensland News says that Ovation (TV cnannel for arts) will introduce; "...an angelic recording of the Chopin Piano Concertos from Rafal Blechacz,..." Sunday night via its program "Good Listening" (11:21pm - 12am, Sunday, 15 November 2009).
There is no provision of the program by the Internet.
But...

Nice wording!
Yes, it's really "angelic".    

Nov 13, 2009

Review on Blechacz's "sonatas" (Singapore)

Today, I saw a review on Rafał Blechacz's album "sonatas - haydn, beethoven, mozart" which was carried on "The Straits Times", the highest selling newspaper in Singapore (estimated readership is 1.23 million in 2008), as of November 9, 2009 and posted on the website of the reviewer: Dr Chang Tou Liang today.
From 2004 to 2008 he was the Artistic Director of the Singapore International Piano Festival. He has also been the classical music reviewer of The Straits Times since 1997.
Link to the article.

Beautiful description and I'll paste it here.

"This is the second CD recording on the “Yellow Label” by young Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, winner of the 2005 Chopin International Piano Competition. Its three classical sonatas prove that he is more than just a Chopin-player, but a musician of interpretive insight and finesse.

Rarely has Haydn’s Sonata No.52 in E flat major sounded so ahead of its time; its grand majestic opening chords, air of contemplation in the slow movement and hectic finale all look ahead to Beethoven. Conversely, Beethoven’s youthful Sonata in A major (Op.2 No.2) is possessed with a spirit and vivacity that recalls Haydn. There is little to separate late Haydn and early Beethoven, it seems. This superb recital concludes with Mozart’s Sonata in D major (K.311) of 1777, ironically the earliest work of the three, where its symphonic pretensions and digital virtuosity predate both the Haydn and Beethoven. Blechacz is one name truly worth following".


**
But is this album the latest one available in Singapre? Are there any other countries like this where the beautiful Chopin Concertos by Blechacz cannot be bought yet?

If his latest album "Chopin The Piano Concertos" is not released in your country yet, all the tracks are available from Deutsche Grammophon web shop.
You need to register with the DG site for the shopping but the instruction for the process should appear in your local language (please select your country from pull down menu).

You MUST listen to it.

Nov 8, 2009

Rafał Blechacz interview about CD Chopin concertos (Poland)

From an interview that Rafał Blechacz gave to Nasz Dziennik and posted on its site on September 26, 2009.
I posted the original Polish interview on Sept.30 on this site but I had no time in those days to put it in English.
I'm pleased to be able to catch up now.

Original interview (Polish)




About the concertos of Chopin and faith in God
Father Arkadiusz Jędrasik talks with an excellent pianist Rafal Blechacz 

--Your new album recorded for Deutsche Grammophon has just appeared on the Polish market. This time the piano concertos of Fryderyk Chopin. Why did you choose this very repertoire?

I have long planned to record for my third album repertoire with orchestral accompaniment. About the album I want to stress an important event, which is the year 2010 approaching- the Year of Chopin. I think these concertos are the most representative work of piano and orchestra among the creations by this composer. Therefore, such a decision.


--What prompted you to just execute the most recent recording with the Royal Orchestra of Amsterdam under the direction of Jerzy Semkow?

As early as during my first talks with Deutsche Grammophon, I said that I would like to record Chopin concertos to highlight the Year of Chopin, but as for orchestra and conductor, with the ones that would work best for me. Over the past three years I have been fortunate to play both of concertos by Fryderyk Chopin with various orchestras and conductors in the world. After the first contact with the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (when I played Piano concerto in G minor, Saint-Saëns), I realized that with this orchestra, the concertos by Chopin would sound great! I was enthralled by the velvet, warm and very soft sound of the orchestra, especially the color of strings as well as wind instruments. This unusual sound would contribute to the atmosphere and aura of the Chopin concertos. In Chopin's piano works the tempo rubato is often applied. In such moments, the orchestra should be very flexible and attentive to accompany the soloist and follow him. Royal Orchestra in Amsterdam was just so - the musicians perfectly sensed and understood me. Also, it was very important to me that the recording is in the beautiful and acoustically perfect Concertgebouw Hall, with that particular instrument, prepared by that specific tuner.


--How did you obtain their cooperation in the preparation of the concertos that preceded recording the disc?

The most important was the very choice of the orchestra and conductor, with whom I could carry my interpretation of Chopin's concertos without problems. I had many meetings and discussions with Maestro Semkow about the theme of interpretation. We spent sufficient time for these discussions so that we were well prepared for recording. I had six recording sessions, we recorded a rehearsal and concert. It's a comfortable situation, as rarely happens, to have so much time on the recording, in such an excellent hall, playing with such an orchestra. It was very important to me because I did not feel psychological pressure – if I have time for both concerts to record well, experiment and try.
I was able to calmly plan everything and focus on music. We started recording the Concerto in E minor, then recorded in F minor. The atmosphere during the recording was very pleasant. Musicians has created a lot of fun playing, especially typical, popular fragments of the concertos. After hearing the recording material, I decided to give Concerto in E minor in the live version, which was recorded at the concert. 


--How is conductor Jerzy Semkow for you? What distinguishes him from other masters of the baton?

The maestro is a charismatic conductor. He emanates a spell from him, which is given to the team. He is firm and the musicians listen to him, because he talks of his observations in a very convincing way. Orchestra came to love Jerzy Semkow very much, musicians had perfect contacts with him. The maestro understood my interpretation, he did not impose anything on me. He carefully took notes in the score of all my ideas, whether it is about agogics, color or dynamics. When it came to the recording session, the musicians were already well prepared for it. I felt very comfortable playing with him.


--This album is part of the anniversary of the 200th anniversary of Chopin's death (sic). You are the winner of the last International Chopin Competition, which opened a wide door to you towards the pianistic career. How is Chopin's music accepted in the world, which you play in different continents?

Works by Chopin are well accepted and highly appreciated everywhere. This can best be seen in Japan, where Chopin's music has grown to a level of almost divine worship. During my first tour in Japan I played Chopin’s works only, because the agency in Japan wished as such. I even have my own fan club in this country. In Germany and other European countries, Chopin is also well taken. Recently I played his works in Spain. They reacted very spontaneously especially to the ballad and Polonaise-Fantaisie. Also Mazurkas arouse other emotions, although they are typical Polish dances, they always touch hearts of listeners throughout the world and move their heartstrings.


--How did you find the key to the interpretation of this music which has been well refined and renowned?

Of course, recordings are at our disposal, and could turn out to be inspired by searching visions of work and individual interpretations. Sometimes it is possible that ideas of other artists are suggested and you find their creative use. But I think that first of all you need to be faithful to what the creator himself left behind in the score. Sometimes you can pursue inspiration through penetration into the composer's personality, reading his letters and memories of students about his style and manner of playing. Obviously a major role in the search for interpretation is musician’s intuition, which sometimes suggests that a given fragment has a sound exactly like this and not otherwise. Sometimes you have to trust your intuition and follow your heart. I can not stop admiring how in the mind and heart of such a young composer, who was then 18-19 years old, such beautiful and profound music were emerging, which we have in these two piano concertos.


--Which Chopin recordings are most inspiring for you?

Recordings by Arthur Rubinstein are very close to me (especially when it comes to Chopin's music). Both his early years, when he spurted great enthusiasm, energy, spontaneity, and later years, when we listen to Rubinstein of 70-year old whose playing is very mature, thoughtful and beautiful. He emanates from him grandeur and artistry. I remember that these recordings have fascinated me since childhood. Of course chopin by Krystian Zimerman, Maurizio Pollini, the recording of concertos by Claudio Arrau. Sometimes I like to reach out for recordings by Martha Argerich, who always exudes a great temperament. It also could be inspiration.


--From our conversation, Chopin is the most important Polish composer for you. Is there another artist whose music inspires you?

Without a doubt it is the Karol Szymanowski, whose music is very beautiful. In recent seasons, I presented at various concerts in various locations around the world, his works, including Variations op. 3. Karol Szymanowski's music is not well known everywhere, but everywhere the audience accepts it very well. His music is very diverse, has a lot of emotion, a lot of different characters in it. And audiences at concerts love it very much.


--How did you find your key to the interpretation of Szymanowski's music?

It is similar to Chopin's music process, in which I look for different routes. For its good interpretation my intuition helps, and a variety of recordings let inspiring. Very beautiful and interesting are the CDs of Szymanowski's music recorded by prof.Jerzy Godziszewski. At one time it was for me great inspiration and assistance in developing Variations Op. 3. Szymanowski's music has a lot of elements of impressionism, especially in the second period of the composer's works. Therefore, Claude Debussy’s music helps me greatly in interpreting works of the Polish composer. Especially when looking for proper color, which is so important in Szymanowski. Debussy counts very much in his music, displays of emotion and strong expression. Of most importance in life of every artist in the interpretation of music is to be natural, because being natural is most convincing and true. Being natural best reaches the audience; it captures hearts of music lovers.


--Do you therefore find time for the concert pianist to have a private life and relax?

Of course, I find time for private life. It is very important not to lose yourself in music and have time for other things. So it is important to determine which concerts to be played in the year, to plan your time well. It would be a place for concerts, it's time to expand your repertoire and recording the next album. Music to a large extent fills my life, but like everyone I need time to stop, on reflection, to relax. Like everyone I go out on holidays to catch breathing, think and relax. I like to be silent after the concert, riding on car after a performance relaxes me very well. When I play concerts in Europe, almost always I travel by car. With planes, I had a lot of surprises and adventures - the delayed flights, lost baggage. Car gives convenience and independence - I can plan journey and get to the place "to the door."


--And how often do you spend time with your family?

Family is very important to me. Then, when possible, I try to travel together. This time I was in Amsterdam with my whole family, with my parents and sister. I also remember that for the first tour in Japan, which lasted over a month, we went together. It is very important if after various tensions and stress you have someone to talk and spend time with. I observe other artists and see that each of them tries to take someone close to tour. Because loneliness in a hotel can be scorching.


--How is the influence of faith and religion on you, as it helps you in life?

This area of my life is very important. In the life of concerts, the faith is for me mainstay and great support. It helps me very much survive everyday, all the difficult moments. During the Chopin Competition, prayer helped me very strongly, gave me strength and it was for me great support. In life, my strength is faith in God.


--What are your plans for the next concerts?

My immediate plans are linked to the Chopin Year. The year 2010 will be quite tight, because waiting for me touring all over Europe, the United States and Japan. So three continents in one year. That is why my CD with concertos by Chopin, I wanted to record right now, even in 2009, so I will have time only for concerts. And repertoire? Chopin, but not only - in the first part of the upcoming recitals I will play works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Claude Debussy. Also I’m working on Szymanowski, whose music is also very well received, and not so well known and often played as Chopin. So it’s worthwhile promoting Szymanowski in the world. In Poland, I will perform concertos in February next year and then in May.


--What can we expect of your next CDs?

First of all, I will try so that they will be good recordings. After the concertos of Chopin, I’m planning solo album – but I do not reveal yet, about which repertoire. I have signed a contract with the DG for the next three CDs.


--I thank you very much and wish you many new successes.


**
A pleasant memory returned out of the blue.
Two years ago, on November 12, 2007, Rafał’s recital at Concertgebouw (on October 7) was broadcast
by Radio 4 of the Netherlands.
I listened to it. Quite a few friends in Japan listened to it.
We chatted a loooooot after the broadcast.
We were especially impressed by his Haydn's sonata, which was very different from our image of Haydn.
We loved Rafał’s.

The broadcast began at 4:00 am JST (at 20:00 CET on Nov.11)
and we called the event “The Operation Haydn before Dawn”.

A few days before that, the news that Rafał was given the platinum disk for his DG debut album “Complete Preludes” arrived.
So, we were already very happy.

Nov 6, 2009

Krystian Zimerman performed "Rhapsody in Blue"

Krystian Zimerman performed "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conduced by Paavo Järvi five times in Japan (Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya and Nishinomiya) from late October to early November.

Intrigued by the interesting piece and combination of the orchestra and the soloist, I went to the concert in Yokohama on November 3.

It was not a typical piano concerto in that the piano was one of the parts of the symphonic piece.
I was deeply impressed by Zimerman who was perfectly relaxed and enjoyed his time on the stage dazzling us with super excellent cadenzas although I felt a difference of nature between his fine, sophisticated piano playing and the loud sound of the American orchestra.

Zimerman played the 3rd Prelude by Gershwin for an encore.
The way he began playing the encore was humorous - after taking curtain calls several times he appeared again, happily trotting to the piano with a big smile and abruptly began playing before his bottom touched the stool.

The following is an excerpt from the short interview included in the concert booklet.



(Program)
"Candide" Overture by Leonard Bernstein
Divertimento by Leonard Bernstein
"Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin
Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" by Antonín Dvořák


Interviewer: Katsuhiko Shibata, music writer


Krystian Zimerman plays Rhapsody in Blue?
Unexpected selection from my image of Zimerman who stoically goes into the depth of serious piece to refine it perfectly.

Zimerman says;
“It is for the first time since I was 15 years old to play this piece on the stage. Oh, don’t calculate how many years ago it was. (Note by Mr.Shibata: It is for the first time in 37 years.) Actually I have a large repertoire. What I play for concerts is only 10 % of that. It looks like that the listeners have a specific image of me so it is enjoyable to perform a piece which they don’t anticipate from me.”

The selection is a part of his intensive activities in Japan of recent years.

“I have been expanding music activities in Japan for the past two and a half years. The biggest trigger was that I have my house built in Tokyo. Now for me performing in Japan is no longer overseas tour; I hold a concert at a place I live in. Under such circumstances, I would like to extend the frame and axes of my activities, performing a wide range of works from Bach through to contemporary music, including collaboration with orchestras and chamber music.

I began with Brahms with Gidon Kremer (2007), followed by Concerto by Witold Lutosławski (2008).

This year, I played for recitals of serious works including Bach, Beethoven and piece of 20th century.
What's next? I thought about it and came to George Gershwin’ s work, the amalgamation of Jazz and symphonic music.

In spring 2010, I will perform Chopin recitals with sonatas No.2 and No.3 at core. 
In autumn 2010, I would like to play pieces of Robert Schuman commemorating his 200th birthday like Chopin and piano quintet composed by Louis Vierne, a pupil of César Franck.”

As for George Gershwin Zimerman says that he has already played Three Preludes for Piano and believes that Jazz has firmly established the image of its own in music history. So how does he feel about Rhapsody in Blue?

“It’s a great music as a symphony piece. Gershwin was highly talented and it is really regrettable that he passed away so young. His works are on a large extension of Jazz but I faithfully follow what he wrote in the score. From this viewpoint, his music is different from Jazz which is often accompanied by improvisation.”

The audience is looking forward to the collaboration with Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

“I have worked with Paavo many times. His baton is accurate and sincere. But he is a conductor who makes everyone enjoy. I will work with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for the first time but the piece we’ll play is the one instilled in their blood, so I have no concern.”



Zimerman's new CD of Grazyna Bacewicz is not yet released here.
It will be released on November 20 under the current plan.

Nov 5, 2009

KlassikAkzente "Selected Classics 2009"

From KlassikAkzente's "Catalogue of Selected Classics 2009"


Rafał Blechacz: Piano
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Conductor: Jerzy Semkow

After Rafał Blechacz with his last album undertook a trip into the Viennese classicals, the young Polish miracle pianist comes back to his countryman and favorite composer Chopin.
Chopin's piano concertos No.1 and No.2 with impressive opening by the winner of 2005 Chopin competition reveals the ranks of the Premium release for the 200th birthday of the composer in the spring 2010.

Accompanying the 24-year old pianist are over 80-year old Polish conductor Jerzy Semkow at the rostrum of the Concertgebouw Orchestra.
The two succeed in a symbiotic music event as one only quite rarely experiences it.

Blechacz and Semkow put their proficiency in the service of the music, nowhere a track of masterly vanity, completely.
Every nuance is a tribute to Chopin’s genius.

Dieter Reuter, Saturn, Munich Schwantaler Street


Introduction of Selected Classics 2009 (German)
You can download the "Selected Classics 2009" catalogue from here.
Blechacz's CD is on page 9/17.  

Nov 4, 2009

Blechacz congratulates DG's 111 years (Video2.0)

Rafał Blechacz congratulates Deutsche Grammophon for the 111th anniversary in English.

It's a different version from the Polish video that I posted several days ago.



Watch the video with a big screen.

(A milliard of thanks to Konstancja for finding it out.) 


See the Polish version (video).
    

Nov 2, 2009

German radio MDR recommends Blechacz new CD Nov.2

German radio MDR will select Rafał Blechacz's new CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" in its program "Take 5"
@ 18:05 - 19:00 on Monday, November 2.

The program gives five recommendations for classical music from the recent releases followed by five additional CD-tips in the areas of jazz, pop, world music and chanson.

The program will be replayed on Saturday between 12:05 - 13:00.




Listen to the program at MDR "Take 5" program page.

(↑ The column for Blechacz of the page reads;)
"The most perfect musician for the works of young Chopin"
the Polish newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" so glorified the pianist Rafał Blechacz.

One could also say:
The young compatriot of Chopin brings their master to the Poles as near as hardly done by anyone previously
- and not only to the Poles but to all the music fans of the world.
  

Nov 1, 2009

BBC Radio3 reviewed Blechacz new CD

BBC Radio3 played the 2nd movement of Chopin Concerto in F minor played by Rafał Blechacz from his new CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" in its program "CD Review"
@ 9:05 - 9:30 on October 31. (GMT)

Presenter: Andrew McGregor

BBC Radio3 program page.


(After introducing Blechacz and playind the 2nd movement of concerto in F minor, the presenter said;)

"The second movement of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 2 in F minor, the new recording from Polish Chopin Competition winner Rafał Blechacz played with such poisoned delicate refinement and elegant elasticity such a lovely sense of rubato impeccably accompanied by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Jerzy Semkow.

Yet after Blechacz’s first DG recording of Chopin’s Preludes there is a degree of understatement here especially in the outer movements of the both concertos that I wasn’t expecting.

So beautiful, carefully considered playing without the extremes of Krystian Zimerman’s extraordinary disk with his hand picked Polish Festival Orchestra but self facing the Chopin Concertos, I’m not sure. The recording itself is a little unhelpful on that score, its intimate focus on the piano the orchestra artificially distanced.

The first concerto was recorded live yet doesn’t really feel like it. There is no more sense of occasion in the second and in the slow movement Blechacz and solo basoon are uncomfortably at odds over the tempo but there is no doubt in Blechacz’s empathy with Chopin or his ability to tease the air with those lovely tweaks of the tempo. The Chopin Concertos, new from Deutsche Grammophon".



**
Frankly speaking, I found a few parts of this English that I cannot get idea.   

Taiwan's paper introduced Blechacz new CD

Taipei times introduced Blechacz's new CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" on its issue on November 1.

Taipei Times
Classical DVD and CD
Reporter: Bradley Winterton

"A startling new CD and an extraordinary old film now on DVD are the objects of scrutiny this month.

Is it possible for music to be over-recorded? You’re certainly tempted to think so when listening to the new CD from Deutsche Grammophon containing Chopin’s two piano concertos played by Rafal Blechacz. Whatever its other merits, it would be the ideal vehicle with which to demonstrate the quality of your sound system.

The orchestra’s instruments are rendered more vividly than any live audience could possibly hear. Whether this is an adverse criticism or simply yet another advantage of the hi-tech world is for the listener to decide. But the performances themselves, with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Jerzy Semkow, are almost as dazzling as the recording technique.

Next year is the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth and this CD is clearly only going to be one of many issued for the occasion. Chopin wrote these concertos before he was 20 and they express a youthful happiness and optimism that Blechacz catches wonderfully. The “velvet” sound sometimes attributed to this particular orchestra may be one of the reasons why the technicians opted to highlight it so dramatically, especially in the studio-recorded F Minor concerto.

Blechacz was the popular local winner of Warsaw’s five-yearly International Chopin Piano Competition in 2005. A DVD of the event was reviewed in this column on April 5, 2007....."



The new CD will be released in Korea tomorrow.

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Pomorska.pl reports that Bydgoszcz will elect ambassadors of the region for "Science", "Economy", "Culture and Arts" and "Sports," and voting process will last until early December.
Rafał Blechacz is one of the candidates of the Ambassador for Culture and Arts.