Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Oct 13, 2010

Rafał Blechacz interview in Osaka, October 3, 2010


Interview that Rafał Blechacz offered on October 3, just after completing his special concert at The Symphony Hall in Osaka, Japan.  The interview was posted on The Symphony Hall's website.

Original interview (Japanese)

--Thank you very much for coming here to Japan in the special year of 2010, 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, especially during the special month of October when the 16th Chopin International Piano Competition is held.

I’ve played here at The Symphony Hall of Osaka four times.  I’m impressed every time I play here; the audience always warmly respond and I can play on the piano that I’m familiar with.  I feel therefore that I’m back to the venue that I know.  During the concert, it’s very quiet.  Not because they are indifferent but I strongly feel the sense of expectation that now Chopin’s music is going to come out.  All are concentrated in listening to me and reward me after the performance by big applause and voices of joy.  It comes home to me that Japan is a country where people really love Chopin’s music.  If the program is composed of Chopin like today, the hall is full in my observation.

--Did the victory at the Chopin Competition change your life?

Yes, it dramatically changed.  The day of winning, October 21, was a turning point of my life.  I have been given a lot of opportunities to play for concerts in many places in the world.  But I set aside the time for me to be able to be relaxed at home, so as not to be too much a burden.

How is the Chopin Competition for Poles?

It takes place only once in five years. For music lovers in Poland it’s a very major event that is long in coming.  Once started, preliminary stages continue between 9 am and 8 pm.  You can hear the performances all day long. The major event lasts for nearly one month and all the stages up to the final are broadcast live by radio nowadays.  For the final stage, elementary and secondary school students come from nationwide to hear the performances live to Warsaw and national TV station broadcast all live.  This year, regrettably, I have no time to follow what’s happening in the competition.

Oct. 11, in Yokohama
--You won the latest competition and the way that you play, Mr. Blechacz, is often compared to that of Chopin.  You are regarded as his reincarnation.

I’m very honored (smiling) but as an element to let you feel that I resemble Chopin is that I have read Chopin’s letters and remarks by his students.  From the studies, I can find many descriptions that how Chopin’s performance was delicate and how his expression was sensitive.  I always try to reproduce what is described. By studying truly original documents in relation to Chopin could be very effective method to get closer to him.  There are recorded performances of piano by Chopin’s disciples.  I listened to such recordings and found it useful to interpret the 2nd movement of the 2nd concerto that I played today.

--Describe how you live in your country.

I stay in Poland when there is no concert in other countries.  Basically I stay at home, playing piano and reading books.  Maybe it looks boring to the others.  But it shouldn’t be good if I confine myself to the studio and practice all day long.  You should practice wisely.  Furthermore, it is important to get inspiration from different realm than music, such as drawings and academic studies, which might be useful for musical interpretation.  I would like to use my time for such areas.
Artists shouldn’t be always exposed to the public. Now I’m touring for giving concerts but it’s necessary for me to spend certain amount of time away from concert activities.  I would be walking in forests and jogging and I’ll be missing the stage.

--Today you gave the special concert offering both solo piano pieces and the concerto.  You’ll give another recital on October 17 with all Chopin program.  Could you elaborate the program you select for that?

First, it should be all Chopin program for the Chopin year.  I performed all Chopin program in 2006 Japan tour, just after the Chopin Competition, when I first decided to play piano sonata in B minor, relatively mainstream work by Chopin.  This year I wanted to offer a bit smaller pieces.  So I decided to play Ballads and Scherzo.  Also in commemoration of the Chopin year, I included two sets of Polonaises and Mazurkas to give a flavor of Poland.
Poles feel familiar to Polish dances.  It’s the feeling that has been embedded in us Poles naturally.  But in Chopin’s piece, not only their rhythms but nuances and strong sensitivity are important.  I would like to express them all. I try to sense whatever feelings contained in each piece and feel them as my experience.  By so doing, I believe that they can be communicated to the audience.

--We are pleased to have the all Chopin recital to be played by the winner of the Chopin Competition on the memorial day for Chopin.  Any message to the listeners?

It’s a great privilege for me to be able to play Chopin’s music in Japan, for the people who deeply love Chopin’s music on the special day for Chopin.  It may be that Chopin’s soul will be coming down to hear the memorable concert.

This interview is based on a conversation between Blechacz and Yasushi Miyosawa, a popular announcer of ABC, Osaka-based broadcaster.  According to several fans of Blechacz, who went to his concert in Osaka on October 3 and waited for his appearance from the hall after the concert, Blechacz spent approximately 90 minutes with Miyosawa after his recital on Oct. 3 (and after spending over one hour for the autographic session!).

Miyosawa talked about Blechacz and Chopin Competition during his radio program in the morning of October 4, explaining the Competition, how great it is for a pianist to win that prestigious competition, how Blechacz is highly commended in the music world as “the most excellent Chopin player” in the world and believed to be Chopin’s reincarnation, how charming personality Blechacz has.  (He played Blechacz’s performances from 2005 Chopin Competition as BGM.)

Miyosawa quoted Blechacz as saying, “Chopin Competition is an exceptional event that takes place only once in five years.  All the media, music commentators and music lovers get together at the Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw, committing themselves to Chopin music, trying to find out the most brilliant diamond Chopinist.  During the competition, I felt as if playing a recital in many countries because I could see various people of different countries seated in the audience seat”.

To the winner of this year’s competition, Blechacz said that he wants to give hearfelt congratulations to the winner and his or her family, friends, all the supporting people.

Also he would advise him or her to maintain health both physically and mentally, because winning the competition changes the pianist’s life fundamentally.  Very suddenly, all the eyes will be keenly paid to the winner from around the world.  "You need to endure the powerful surge that you didn’t know so far.”

Blechacz felt honored to be given the opportunity to play a recital of all Chopin program on the special memorial day for Chopin in Osaka (October 17), saying that there could be a surprise on that day, according to Miyosawa.

(Deepest thanks to Ms. Wiewiórka for sharing with me the recorded radio program by Miyosawa.)

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