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Sep 13, 2010

Playing for the people - Rafał Blechacz talks (2006)

Excerpt from an interview Rafał Blechacz gave to Jan Popis, posted on The Warsaw Voice in Feb. 2006.  Probably many of you have read it.  I was trying to post some paragraphs of a preview written by Yoshiko Ikuma from Blechacz’s 2010 Japan tour leaflet.  She writes about how Blechacz gives importance on the process of practicing and completing each piece alone before the public performance, spending huge amount of time.  It reminded me of this interview, especially the final part (bold letters).  It is only parts of the interview and please read the entire interview (English) from the link if you have time because every segment is logically connected.

Playing for the People
Rafał Blechacz talks to Jan Popis.

■ What were your expectations when you joined the Chopin competition?
First of all, my thoughts were on the music and how to prepare best for the competition. Later on there was the competition and its consecutive stages and finally the announcement of the results. All of a sudden I found myself in a different reality—a bit surprised, but happy, I must say. So there is a time of great joy, but I also have the awareness that a person has to find their place in all of it as soon as possible and create a new mode of functioning.


■ Was there a time during the competition when you began to feel that you could actually win?
One is never certain. But there should always be hope. It helps. Equipped with it, I followed the iron rule that “all the stages must be played as well as possible.” This was the most important thing to me. I didn’t have the certainty that I would win. The belief that things should work out well—because after all I worked hard and carried out a full plan of preparations—was a different thing.

….. even though I did have the feeling that I was playing well, I had no way of knowing how my performance was rated against the background of others. Of course, after each consecutive stage, I did get the information that everything went well and this gave me additional strength—positive energy—especially after the fantastic reception of my performances by the audience. These were important signals, but I couldn’t be certain.

■ How do you plan your schedule?
The coming year is full when it comes to my concert schedule. The year 2007 is probably also full. To begin with, there shouldn’t be too many concerts. No more than 20 a year. Another very important thing is an expansion of the repertoire to show something new every now and again. This takes time and preparation. Only with time will I be able to think of increasing the number of concerts. My first post-competition year will reveal how well I can function according to this concert rhythm. The most important thing for me is to make sure that I have enough time for further work and this should determine the arrangement of my concerts and recordings and the course of my career in general.

Will this stage of success be followed by another stage—consolidation?
Now every concert will be a test confirming my award. But let’s not get carried away. I cannot let myself be burdened by this and fall into a sense of some kind of excessive responsibility. I would like to continue to derive joy from the public performance of music and function in all this in such a way all the time—choose concerts and arrange their programs in such a way that they offer freshness and joy; prepare for each one as well as possible and simply enjoy what I do.

I work on a piece at home alone, in peace and quiet, only to “show” it later to the public. This is an important experience because it provokes further thinking about interpretation. If I hear after a concert that this was an emotional experience for the people, that they were moved and that generally the audience liked my performance in some way—this is very important to me... because I like playing for the people.

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