Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Apr 30, 2010

Blechacz wins Accademia Musicale Chigiana prize

Several Italian media websites report that Rafał Blechacz receives the International Prize of Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Chigiana Musical Academy), Italy, a prestigious music award for young and prominent pianists and violinists. The prize will be awarded on July 13 at Palazzo Pubblico (City Hall) in Siena.

Accademia Musicale Chigiana website (Italian)

Siena on April 29 (Italian)

(excerpt of the paragraph about Blechacz)
Tuesday, July 13, in Sala del Mappamondo di Palazzo Pubblico (the Globe Room of the City Hall of Siena, Italy) the pianist Rafał Blechacz will receive this year's il Premio Internazionale “Accademia Musicale Chigiana” (International Prize of “Chigiana Musical Academy") now in its 27th edition and held since 2009 under the auspices of the car manufacturer Mercedes Benz. The award was created in line with the cultural commitment by the founder, Count Guido Chigi Saracini, thanks to the patronage of Dr. Rolf Becker, a friend of Academia Chigiana in Siena and commendably, Mercedes Benz has continued in that engagement to support young but already established concert performers of piano and violin, chosen by the international jury composed of music critics and the artistic director of the Academia Chigiana.

Blechacz, Polish, born 1985, was unanimously awarded the first prize at the 15th Frederic Chopin Competition in Warsaw, with three special prizes: prize by the Polish Radio for the best performance of mazurkas, prize by the Polish Chopin Society for best execution of the Polonaise and Warsaw Philharmonic Award for the best interpretation of the concerto. In 2006 he signed an exclusive contract for five years with Deutsche Grammophon for three discographic productions. The first CD with Chopin's Preludes, made in 2007, received the recognition of "platinum".
 Blechacz will give a recital on the same day, as a part of Settimana Musicale Senese: Music Week in Siena
(from Accademia Musicale Chigiana website)

J.S. Bach Italian Concerto in F maj. BWV 971
Debussy Estampes
Szymanowski Prelude and Fuga in C-sharp min.
Chopin Polonaise in C-sharp min. op. 26 no. 1 / Four Mazurkas op. 41 / Ballade in G min. op. 23 no. 1

Libero news it. (Italian)
Il Giornale dello Spettacolo (Italian) (Italian)

Laureates of Accademia Musicale Chigiana International Prize so far are as follows:

The violinists
Gidon Kremer (1982), Shlomo Mintz (1984), Anne-Sophie Mutter (1986), Viktoria Mullova (1988), Frank Peter Zimmermann (1990), Gil Shaham (1992), Maxim Vengerov (1995), Julian Rachlin (2000), Hilary Hahn (2002) Sarah Chang (2005), Lisa Batiashvili(2009)

The pianists
Peter Serkin (1983), Krystian Zimerman (1985), Andras Schiff (1987), Andrej Gavrilov (1989), Evgeny Kissin (1991), Andrea Lucchesini (1994), Lilya Zilberstein (1998), Leif Ove Andsnes (2001), Arcadi Volodos (2003), Paul Lewis (2006),

The orchestral conductor
Esa-Pekka Salonen (1993), the Hagen Quartet (1996) and the Artemis Quartet (2004),

The violist Tabea Zimmermann (1997)
The violoncellist Matt Haimowitz (1999).

(The Jury)
Enrico Girardi (Il Corriere della Sera, Milan), Andrew Clements (The Guardian, London), Peter Hagmann (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich), Julia Spinola (Frankfurter allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurt), and Artistic Director of Accademia Chigiana.

Accademia Chigiana website

Apr 29, 2010

Rafał Blechacz plays Chopin Ballad nr.3 in Torun (video)

Website of UMK: Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika (Nicolaus Copernicus University) offers a video clip of part of Rafał Blechacz's recital on April 20.
He plays Chopin's Ballad nr.3.

The concert programmed as a part of the Festival of Science and Arts in Toruń was dedicated to the memory of the victims of the presidential plane crash in Smolensk.

Please watch the video.

J.S.Bach - Partita nr 1 BWV 825
W.A.Mozart - Sonata KV 570
C.Debussy - Pour le piano
F.Chopin: Ballad op. 47 nr 3
Scherzo op. 20 nr 1
Mazurkas op.17
Polonez Fantazja op. 61
Chopin Nocturne in C sharp minor, Mazurka op?

“Not always, when I play Mazurka in A Minor by Chopin, I’ve had so deep an experience as today”.
(Rafał Blechacz, after the concert in Toruń)

- Nie zawsze, gdy grałem mazurka a-moll Chopina, miałem tak głębokie przeżycia jak dzisiaj - przyznał po wtorkowym koncercie w Toruniu Rafał Blechacz.


Aula of UMK (Hall of Nicolaus Copernicus University), photographed by Dana

A participant of the discussion and recital wrote to me;

Rafał had a long meditation before the Polonaise. This work represents so plenty of emotions that it can be said that there is the whole history of Poland.
He said in the philosophical debate after the recital that never before playing of Mazurkas op.17 was so strong a metaphysical experience like during this evening.
In the recital, after Mazurka No 4 op.17 was the long silence.

Rafał also said,
"Artists ought to understand music from every aspect: understand composer’s intention, have intuition of style, know freedom and limits of interpretation".
This all you could hear in his concert in Torun.
Baroque, classicism, impressionism and romanticism. The difference between them was very much audible as well as composers’ intentions and Rafal's interpretation.
Bach - mathematical precision, Mozart - opera, Debussy - painter, Chopin - emotions.
All were very beautiful like a speech between humans and the nature.

Public gave Rafał standing ovation after the recital, plenty of flowers and he played two encores Nocturne cis-moll and Mazurka.

(A sincere appreciation to Data for the contribution.)


Recently my husband and I went to a popular pianist's recital. During the intermission, I asked him how he felt of the performance. Instead of answering, my husband abruptly said,

"Blechacz is a true pianist. When listening to him I feel the existence of God.
I believe he has encountered the holy existence sometime in his life. He plays for such an existence. His music is a prayer. His music brings listeners to a higher state of mind. I really feel my spirit brightened. What distinguishes him from others is his modesty. He is modest because he truly recognizes the deity. The unrivaled metaphysical pianist, the reason why his playing, especially that of Chopin is so moving."


Apr 28, 2010

Virtuoso Voices-Blechacz interview segments(audio)

"Virtuoso Voices" provides short interview segments by virtuosos. Each segment lasts for approximately 20 seconds.
From this site, I found five interview segments by Rafał Blechacz.

Funny man - Haydn.
"We forget about him because maybe Haydn is not so famous (laughs) like Beethoven and Mozart but his compositions are incredible. So I play a lot of sonatas by Joseph Haydn and I think he was a very funny man (laugh). There are a lot of a lot of fragments, which has a lot of joy, there are a lot of funny.”

Finding sounds from opera - Mozart.
"It helped me to find right sound. Haydn thought about the orchestra, he wrote a lot of symphonies and I think that the orchestra’s thinking is audible in his composition. But when I recorded Mozart’s sonata, I thought about the opera. I think it was the first love for, for Mozart, the opera.”

Composer's intention and interpretation
"I think it’s very important to keep the right balance between emotions and the intellectual way for the interpretation. But of course I’m thinking about my own vision. I would like to create own vision and I want to show my emotions, my feelings. But the most important is to show feelings by the composer.”

Just like me - Chopin
"I realized that this music is very close to my heart, it’s very close to my personality. For example, melancholy but also a lot of joy and I am always very happy when I can express these emotions, these feelings with the music. Sometimes I have to enter into Chopin’s feelings, into his emotions and recreate them afresh.”

Orchestra and Polish conductor - for Chopin's Concertos
"For me there is a velvet sound, very soft, which is very important in Chopin’s music and the second: conductor. I chose a Polish conductor because I think that Polish conductor can feel a special atmosphere which are in Chopin’s composition, especially in the finals of these concertos.”

Can you tell which interview each segment comes from?
I think the 4th one "Just like me - Chopin" may come from Blechacz't interview with NPR in US this year (or maybe not).
The 5th one is similar to the interview to compose the trailer for "Chopin The Piano Concertos" but they are not identical.

For the other three, I have no idea!
My guess is that these fragments are parts of (a) interview(s) that he gave in Germany and broadcast voiced-over with German translation. (It could be a wrong guess!)

Great success in Brussels - Rafał Blechacz recital

"Tonight Rafał Blechacz received a big applause and a standing ovation in Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels after playing his recital (the same program as in Torun a week ago and in the US almost two months ago).

There were shoutings "Bravo!, Bravo!" and a request atmosphere for encores.
So in response Rafal played two encores".

(Wonderful! Appreciation to Mr.Roman Frackowski for the fantastic news.
Our source of happiness.)

(Torun, April 20)  

Apr 26, 2010

Rafał Blechacz interview & preview of recital, Brussels

Rafał Blechacz will hold a recital at le Palais des beaux-arts (the Palace of Fine Arts), Brussels, on April 27.

(↑from this program page)
".....confirming all the hopes placed in him, he has built up a career that has taken him to the world's great concert halls, playing with great conductors and orchestras. He has already given his first recital - entirely devoted to Chopin - in Brussels, where music-lovers were impressed by his musicality and freshness and the poetry of his interpretation, all served by a smooth, flowing technique....."

The same preview (Dutch)
The same preview (French)

*I've seen posting of the Concert schedule/preview above almost eveyday for the past 10 months,
proving that he has a good agency in Belgium.
Concerts Weinstadt Blechacz page (you can read reviews.)

His interview with Serge Martin and preview of the recital was posted on today.

Original interview and preview (French)

Rafał Blechacz, the splendor of naturalness

Monday, April 26, 2010, 10:43

On Tuesday, le Palais des beaux-arts (the Palace of Fine Arts) will host the second recital by Rafał Blechacz, a 24-year-old youth who became a national symbol in 2005, the first Polish pianist to win the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in the last thirty years. In the wake of the 1st prize, he won the award for best performances of mazurka, polonaise and concerto. And to even better mark the exceptional quality of this provision, the jury gave no second prize that year.

Very soon the young musician was able to confirm a talent without equal. His first record displayed at once a lofty ambition by programming the 24 Preludes of Chopin, a kaleidoscope of the pallet of a pianist. The premier recitals quickly confirmed that serious musician's temperament and secret, with little interest in showing off on the stage. Moreover, his second CD turned back from the romantic attraction to focus on the classical universe of Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven.

His recital in Brussels will offer a synthesis of these two worlds, the first part focuses on Bach (Partita No. 1 BWV 825), Mozart (Sonata K 570) and Debussy (Pour le piano), preparing Chopin in the second. These choices correspond to a logical sequence. We know the great interest that Chopin had in the works of Bach and operas of Mozart. As for Debussy, his prodigious sense of color is almost an extension of the audacity of Chopin.

An incredibly pure playing
What's striking about this modest musician is the incredible purity of his playing which is an ongoing quest for the naturalness. That did not prevent him from looking somewhere else:

"I would like to have an experience of repertoire when I do recording. For Beethoven, I listened to Schnabel, Arrau and Kempff. Not to copy them, but to locate their concept and better define my own approach. What that does when I play, I completely forget everything I heard."

If you ask him if he must be Polish to play Chopin, he will tell you Fou T’Song, who received the award for best performance of mazurka, was Chinese and neither Pollini nor Argerich are Polish.

"On the other hand, there is something intangible in his music where you have to recreate the vision of sound and rhythm. The secret lies actually in choosing the right rubato. And this is something that can change at any time. Depending on your mood, state of the instrument or the resonance of the room. "

Blechacz is very sensitive to the tuning of the instrument on which he will play and he spends much time for that.

"For my recital in Brussels, I’ll let me find this softness of velvet that fits well with Mozart or Debussy, but I’ll have to be able to confront forte (strongly) the greatness of the first Scherzo and the Polonaise fantasie”.

In the same spirit, he reached out to play on pianos of older era.

"This may help imagine the sound sought by Chopin, who preferred the intimacy of salon to large concert halls and recover it on modern instruments required in the current concert halls.”

Blechacz turns 25 on June 30 and has already finished the first part of his career, one where we accumulate all the proposals as a mad dog.

"Today, I found a certain freedom that allows me to go to the essentials and learn constantly new pieces. "

Apr 24, 2010

Dallas Morning News' pick of Chopin recordings

Lawson Taitte of The Dallas Morning News on its issue of April 22 selected four recently released albums of Chopin's works as Chopin's gift.

The Dallas Morning News

He writes,
"Finding the best new releases is just a matter of sieving the gold nuggets from all the sand. Fortunately, the current generation of Chopin players includes a number who comprehend and can convey the music's unique poetry. Perhaps more than their predecessors, they seem to understand the independence of each musical line, and the composer's debt to one of his favorite composers, Bach".

He then introduces four releases by such players.
Rafał Blechacz comes first.

"Here are the best of the best of the newcomers":

"Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Rafał Blechacz, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Jerzy Semkow (Deutsche Grammophon)

Blechacz won the last Chopin competition five years ago, only the fourth Pole ever to do so. The two concertos, both very early works, aren't the greatest Chopin. But this subtlest and most tasteful of young pianists treats them with such delicacy that they bloom like hothouse orchids. Even if you never cared much for these concertos, Blechacz will win you over".

(The other three performers are: Stephen Hough, Nelson Freire and Nelson Goerner.)

This article was quoted on California Chronicles, too. 

Torun was deeply moved by Blechacz's Mazurka

This Torun Gazeta's article as of April 22 vividly describes how it was when Rafał Blechacz gave a recital on 20th of April, planned for the region, eventually dedicated to the souls of the victims. It also describes the philosophical discussion after the recital.

Torun Gazeta, April 22

Mazurka in A minor by Rafał Blechacz, into the depth of heart - Torun
Maciej Czarnecki

“Not always, when I play Mazurka in A Minor by Chopin, I’ve had so deep an experience as today”, admitted Rafał Blechacz after Tuesday's concert in Torun.

The highest modesty? The famous pianist – the winner of the Chopin Competition, who has recorded for the legendary Deutsche Grammophon- remarked during the debate about music and philosophy at the Collegium Maximum of UMK that he’s not matured to the delight of certain works of the genius.
“ For interpretations, you must harmonize knowledge and intuition”, he added a moment later.
“Sometimes, what was the result of knowledge, I had already sensed”.

The evening recital at the auditorium of the UMK has confirmed these words: even if the young virtuoso from Nakło didn’t try to understand philosophically the whole repertoire of Tuesday, he certainly sensed it well. He came on stage concentrated, self-confident, smiling. A storm of applause welcomed him, but when he sat down at the piano – silence reigned. Blechacz leaned intently, as if getting ready to jump - and began to play. From the Partita in B flat major by Bach to Chopin's Polonaise, hypnotized the audience. At the two-hour recital works by Mozart and Debussy were also presented.

The pianist played for so long that he was late in the debate. The organizers waited.
“Not always, when I play Mazurka in A Minor by Chopin, I’ve had so deep an experience as today”, he said at the Collegium Maximum,
“not known, honestly and with courtesy,”
then, he was guided towards the plate by the MC, and penetrated in the discussion about interpretation of works:

“Some songs may deliver metaphysical meaning and the musicology – a certain structuralization – is no longer engaged in. Here philosophy is valuable. My adventure with philosophy began from the texts of Roman Ingarden on the identity of musical works and aesthetic experience. In this way I look at performance in a deeper way”, revealed Blechacz, who will take a doctorate in philosophy from UMK.

The debate was attended by Prof. Ryszard Wiśniewski, a philosopher in Torun and Fr. Prof. Andrzej Szostek from KUL (Catholic University in Lublin). The former - leading the discussion - pointed to the similarity between music and philosophy (both are the basics for measure, order, space, regularity and harmony of sounds), and also to the discrepancy between objectivity and subjectivity in understanding music: the first variant, music is a peculiar logic of sounds, second – it creates a wealth of feelings and moods, which philosophy cannot express.

The second scholar put forward the thesis that we live in a golden age of musical interpretations.
“This is due to carriers of sound. When there were no radio, CDs, MP3s and other inventions, we were left only with scores as a record, performer’s imagination and recipients’ faulty memory. And today we have a whole lot of performances”, said Fr. Prof. Szostek.

In the further discussion Blechacz asked the priest if there are boundaries to interpretation. The pianist has admitted that he himself often fight with this problem, and sometimes allows himself greater freedom, and at other times keeps the text.
“The most important is to read the internal logic of the text”, said Fr. Prof. Szostek.

........"Play for the Lord God!" - said at one point the priest, ......


An interesting point of the program was a discussion of concert and studio recordings.
“In the studio recording, I should have an aesthetic object constituting itself. It is a particular situation. On the other hand, I have an awareness that the CD will be heard later by someone - said Blechacz.

This is about the recital in Milan in Jan. by Consulate's office there. You can see several pictures.

Apr 23, 2010

Torun was made smiling by his music

You were given a reason to smile, to be happy by the beauty of Rafał's music.
A young fan of Rafał Blechacz, April 20, 2010 @Aula UMK, Torun, Poland


Philosophical discussion after the recital @Collegium Maximum UMK
Prof. Andrzej Szostek, Rafał Blechacz, Prof.Ryszard Wiśniewski

"I’m always very happy when I can play for Polish people in our concert halls…".
(Rafał Blechacz in an interview with Fred Child, Washington DC, US, March 2010)

She definitely has a bright future, so does he.

Two books were presented by the rector of UMK Prof.Andrzej Radziminski,
one was "Pan Tadeusz" by the greatest Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz.

You can see a whole collection of pictures of the recital and panel discussion at Website of Festival of Science and Arts in Torun.

Apr 22, 2010

Rafał Blechacz playing in Toruń (Video)

TV news by TVP Torun about the recital that Rafał Blechacz gave in Toruń on April 20.

You can see a few short segments of Rafał Blechacz playing Bach Partita No.1 during the recital & rehearsal.

Watch the video.

Apr 21, 2010

Spiritual uplift in Toruń - Rafał Blechacz recital


Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Aula UMK (Hall of Nicolaus Copernicus University) in Toruń. The concert programmed as a part of the Festival of Science and Arts in Toruń was dedicated to the memory of the victims of the presidential plane crash in Smolensk.

J.S.Bach - Partita nr 1 BWV 825
W.A.Mozart - Sonata KV 570
C.Debussy - Pour le piano
F.Chopin: Ballad op. 47 nr 3
Scherzo op. 20 nr 1
Mazurkas op.17
Polonez Fantazja op. 61

"Rafał played beautifully in Toruń tonight. He played the same program as during his US tour.
He got a tempest of applause and played two encores responding to the audience request".
(With appreciation to Mr. Roman Frackowski for the news.)

"Recital beautiful!! Two encores: Nocturne and Mazurka. Standing Ovation!
Debate (panel discussion) was very interesting. It was an excellent experience.
The hall was full and there were many important persons".
(Thanks a lot to Dana & Beata, who won the ticket through the competition conducted by newspaper.)

”I had won two ticket and I and my mom were in Rafał Blechacz recital !!!
It was amazing experience. Listening his music is the best thing that ever happened to me . I can't describe this in words.
He is amazing and natural. His playing is true and honest. Rafał is miraculous.
Recital was wonderful and perfect . His interpretation of music is energetic and elegant.
Now I can't wait to next concert in Poznan".
(Oh, congratulations to Karolina, a young and new fan of Rafał Blechacz.
I am purely happy for you! And enjoy the concert in Poznan, too!!)

Press release by the organizer (Polish)
Blechacz played for free
The spokesperson of the organizer says that in the concert dedicated to the memory of the victims, Rafał Blechacz played pieces of Chopin and other composers for the academic circle and residents of the region for free.

Torun (Polish) (click the photo and more photos can be seen.)
Blechacz played for the memory of the victims.
It says that the famous pianist Rafał Blechacz played a recital at Aula UMK on the double occasion of the Festival of Torun as well as in commemoration of Fryderyk Chopin's 200th birthday.

TVP Bydgoszcz (Polish)
Another straight news of the recital.

Website of Torun - a mini review of the recital (Polish)
English - machine-translated←perfect translation! Bravo.

Gazeta Pomorska (Polish)
Lists comments of young people who were able to join the recital.
English of these comments←some photos during rehearsal

Blechacz rehearses before the recital, Aula UMK, Toruń --from Gazeta Pomorska

Oh, how hectic it is in circumstances around him!
Impressive to see the artist with a calm mind never affected.

Apr 20, 2010

Rafał Blechacz won two prizes of Fryderyk Award

Rafał Blechacz won two prizes of The Fryderyk 2010 award (Grammy Award of Poland, covering classical music, jazz and popular music) with his album of Chopin's Piano Concertos:

The Most Outstanding Recording of Polish Music (Najwybitniejsze Nagranie Muzyki Polskiej)
The Album of the Year with Symphonic and Concert Music (Album Roku - Muzyka Symfoniczna i Koncertująca).
TPV Bydgoszcz
Fryderyk award website
Mediamikser "Fryderyk dla Blechacza (Fryderyk for Blechacz)
Bydgoszcz "Many awardees from Bydgoszcz"
Many more sites report this news.

It is the third consecutive year and 4th time that Rafał Blechacz got prizez from Fryderyk Award.

Nomination of 2010 Fryderyk Award

2009, Album of the Year, Solo Music for his "sonatas-haydn, mozart, beethoven"

2008, Album of the Year, Solo Music and the Most Outstanding Polish Music for his "Complete Preludes by Chopin".

2005 Album of the Year, Orchestral Music
and Album of the Year, Solo Music
for three recordings of the 2005 Chopin Competition

I received the news from a different channel, too.
(I would thank R.F.)

"Here is a part of the communique in Polish from Universal Music Poland (music recording trade company) about awarding Rafał Blechacz with a top prize in Poland in classical music recording in 2010. The award is called Fryderyk:

Album Rafala Blechacza z nagraniami koncertow Chopina otrzymal Fryderyka
2010 w dwoch kategoriach:

Album Roku Muzyka Symfoniczna i Koncertująca
Najwybitniejsze Nagranie Muzyki Polskiej.


Rafał Blechacz's album with Chopin's Concertos received Fryderyk Prize
2010 in two categories:

Album of the Year - Symphonic and concert music
The most outstanding recording of Polish music

Tomorrow (←American time) Rafał plays a recital in Toruń in his Alma Mater where he is a doctoral student in philosophy."

From PAP

(For classical music, Fryderyk Award 2010 has the following 12 categories:)
Album of the Year - Choral and oratorio music
Album of the Year - Early and Baroque Music
Album of the Year - Chamber Music
Album of the Year - Symphonic and Concert Music
Album – Solo Music
Album of the Year - Contemporary Music
Album of the Year - Vocal Recital
Album of the Year - Opera, Operetta, Ballet
Recording Debut of the Year
Composer of the Year
The Most Outstanding Recording of Polish Music
Fryderyk Gold for Lifetime Achievement

2010年のフレデリック賞(英語名:The Fryderyk)、ラファウ・ブレハッチの「ショパン協奏曲第1番第2番」が受賞したのは、アルバム・オブ・ザ・イヤー演奏会用管弦楽曲と、最優秀ポーランド音楽賞でした。おめでとうございます。  

Apr 19, 2010

Mini interview with Rafał Blechacz (France)

A mini interview with Rafał Blechacz that was posted on, a French site, on April 2.

original interview (French)
Please scroll down to the middle of the page.

My Chopin ―by Rafał Blechacz

For the winner of the last Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the composer's music is both familiar and mysterious.

"Paradoxically, I was already eleven years old when I played Chopin for the first time. Until then, my musical education was made around Bach and Mozart.
I was immediately fascinated by the beauty of melodies of Chopin, by the harmony that emerges and its modulations that I find is very interesting.

When I am in Warsaw, I often go to church to play the organ. Most of the times, I play Bach, but the last time I interpreted Prelude No. 4 in E minor and Etude Op. 10 No.3 by Chopin and ... it sounded pretty good!

The sound of the organ is valuable for a pianist, allowing me to improve fingers for legato, refining the colors I tried to achieve.

I'm inspired by the letters which Chopin wrote to his students, in which he gives valuable advice. In the same spirit, I have a tremendous admiration for pianist Ra(o)ul Koczalski, a pupil of Karol Mikuli, who was himself a pupil of Chopin.

What is the most difficult when playing Chopin is to remain natural. Often, Japanese journalists ask me what is my technique for rubato, and I am unable to answer! Perhaps a wise blend of intuition and emotions.

For example, in some Mazurkas, there is something intangible between each note that you must let exist. But it is impossible to describe it with words ...”

Interview by Pauline SOMMELET


Rafał Blechacz will appear in France time and again this year and next year.
June 14, 2010 Recital @Salle Pleyel
June 16, 2010 Recial @Bergerie de Nohant, Nohant-Vic

November 10, 2010
Chopin Concerto No.1 with Sinfonia Varsovia, directed by Jerzy Semkow @Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

March 16, 17, 2011
Beethoven Concerto No.4 with Orchetre de Paris conducted by Paavo Järvi @ Salle Pleyel

June 7, 2011  Recital @Salle Pleyel, Paris   

Apr 17, 2010

Review of Rafał Blechacz's playing for Chopin Birthday Concerts by Adam Rozlach

On April 9, I posted a review of the recital on Feb.22 for Chopin Birthday Week Gala Concert written by Adam Rozlach (original Polish text only).
Today I had time to put it into English. (The part of Rafał Blechacz only, of course!)

Original review on Maestro dated April 9 (Polish)
The review for Rafał Blechacz is on page 1 and 2.

From Chopin Institute

On Chopin's Birthday - Blechacz

Brilliant. Jewel of the highest order ... It is rare that in one form many features are so focused, without which it is difficult to imagine anything great, special, unique - especially in the field of interpretation of Fryderyk Chopin's music. As if sensitivity, spirituality, poetic feeling of the world, young heart, as well as incredible energy carrying him. His captivating lifestyle, the outstanding humility, impeccable pianistic technique and high musical consciousness allow his playing music onto the sophisticated level.

All this creates a phenomenon that is called Rafał Blechacz. I intentionally emphasized the power of energy, because when he rushed onto the stage of FN – it seemed - as the time of Sviatoslav Richter, who has not yet sat down and began to play – he right away wants to show what he can do (I hope not because he tries to make it to the next concert because he supposedly has many in this jubilee year).

The impression of "rush" I felt very often, including in slow movement. I saw it on the disc with concertos under Jerzy Semkow (DG 2009) but in both cases like this and after the birthday concert in Warsaw, I acknowledged this distinctively audible momentum forward to be fully controlled, because in one second when it was necessary, Blechacz was able to move us into the world of poetry.

Suddenly, the tempo appeared slow, the time has come to show sound in different flavor. It is one thing. Secondly, perfectly interpreting this peculiar rush the circumstance was bound to the fact that Chopin wrote the Concerto in F minor in his adolescence, at the age of 19, even younger than Blechacz by a few years.

Both, equally young and full of humor, fluency, but intelligence and awareness of what they want to achieve. I dare to note that very rarely you hear such an exactly "youthful" performance of this work.

For this the pianist knows how to "play" with this music. He smiles, twisting his head as if talking with the phrase he plays, teasing it, or persuading the instrument itself by the performer’s ideas. All the time, we see and hear that what he does brings to him a great pleasure, and it means a lot to us because listening to him gives comfort, it simply gives a conviction that there is nothing "bad" and becoming so.

Blechacz wonderfully controlled it because for the whole process of implementation, he knows all the problems of implementing it, has it refined to the smallest detail and prepared for every occasion (such as cooperation with the conductor and the orchestra).


Interpretation - it seems –is precisely staged by the pianist, so that the concert might be played as well awaken in the middle of the night. As he always paid attention to the control of the keyboard, the piano has never had, and never has secrets before him today.

Finale, like the first, is the greatest linkage, was played very impressively. The pianist was able to consistently maintain the same sort of energy and temperament, enriched with accents of folk - indeed interesting but not persistently.

Trying to match the pianist in his joyful, youthful motion, the musicians of Philharmonic Orchestra, Antoni Wit at the head, jumped out and played nicely with horn’s overall signal (time is gone spent in our concert halls if it’s played fine.)

And then there was a great, well-deserved ovation and two mazurkas performed beautifully. Interestingly, he played first Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17 No. 4 and then Mazurka in A flat major, Op. 50 No. 3. (←sic, the Mazurka was Op.50 No.2.) How impressive…

Apr 15, 2010

Panel discussion after concert in Toruń

Prof.Ryszard Wiśniewski, professor of philosophy and ethics at UMK (Nicolaus Copernicus University), in an interview as of April 7 talks about a panel discussion planned on April 20, just after the recital Rafał Blechacz gives at the university.

The professor says that Rafał Blechacz wanted to give a concert in Toruń for a long time and it coincided with the jubilee of 10th Festival of Science and Arts in Toruń. He says that Rafał Blechacz is a participant in his doctoral seminar
and seriously interested in philosophy, particularly hermeneutics as the art of artistic interpretation of musical works. It helps so that what is written in notes, what is contained in the score of a musical work, is to give personal expressions as much as possible in the execution of works.
"It seems that for Rafał, philosophy assists in understanding the essence of music works".

Prof.Ryszard Wiśniewski will be a moderator of the panel discussion on April 20. Distinguished panels include Prof. Władysław Stróżewski of Uniwersytet Jagielloński (Jagiellonian University), author of the text for the last album of Rafał Blechacz, Prof. Andrzej Szostek of Katolicki Uniwersytet (Catholic University) in Lublin and the prominent artist Rafał Blechacz.

**Please note that this interview was posted on April 7, before the disaster on April 10.

About the panel discussion, from the site of the organizer (Polish)

About a repertoire of the recital on April 20
(There is a typo for Mozart's sonata.)

"focus" magazine
".... Many cultural events have been cancelled – others are being held in memory of the victims of the disaster, including concerts by the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, the Sinfonia Varsovia, and a recital by Rafał Blechacz".

**Deepest thanks to Dana for sharing the information**

"Rafał Blechacz is one of the finest young pianists in the world. Along with his extraordinary talent he possesses an exceptional intelligence that allows him to understand in depth the music he performs, and a degree of perception that allows him infallibly to grasp the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions of the compositions he interprets. One could say that his sensitivity is akin to that of Chopin himself, and this is perhaps why Blechacz seems predestined to interpret his compatriot's works. Performing Chopin, however, also opens doors to other composers who preceded or followed him. It isn't therefore surprising that Blechacz focuses on Classical and Romantic repertoire as well as Debussy and Szymanowski. His talent and other character attributes are rooted in a deep spirituality that has not only artistic but also metaphysical and religious dimensions. His numerous interests include philosophy, and his musical endeavours extend to the organ music repertoire. Those who get to know Rafał Blechacz personally note the charm and, above all, modesty that seems not to have been adversely affected by fame".
(Władysław Stróżewski)

↑This is what I think the most important part of Prof.,Stróżewski's writing for Blechacz's latest album, which is (regrettably) left out in the actual CD linernotes for the lack of space. 

(Original Polish text)
Rafał Blechacz jest jednym z najmłodszych, a zarazem najznakomitszych pia­nistów na świecie. Obdarzony niezwykłym talentem muzycznym, odznacza się wspaniałą inteligencją, pozwalającą mu głęboko rozumieć wykonywane utwory, a zarazem cudowną wrażliwością, dzięki której może bezbłędnie wczuć się w ich wymiar estetyczny, czy szerzej – duchowy. Chciałoby się powiedzieć, że ta jego wrażliwość jest jakby spokrewniona z wrażliwością samego Chopina, dlatego Blechacz jest wręcz predestynowany do wykonywania utworów tego kompozytora. Ale Chopin otwiera przecież drogi i do innych twórców, działających zarówno przed nim, jak i po nim; toteż nie dziw, że Blechacz gra klasyków i romantyków, Debussy’ego i Szymanowskiego. Jego talent i inne jego cnoty, aretai, (by użyć tu starożytnego określenia), zakorzenione są w jego głębokiej duchowości, posiada­jącej wymiar nie tylko artystyczny, ale i wręcz metafizyczny i religijny. Wszechstronne jego zainteresowania obejmują także filozofię, a talent muzyczny pozwala mu zerkać także w stronę muzyki organowej. Ci, co znają go bliżej, podkreślają jego osobisty urok, przede wszystkim zaś skromność, której w najmniejszym nawet stopniu nie naraziła na szwank wielka sława, jaka mu przypadła w udziale.
(Władysław Stróżewski)

Apr 12, 2010

Rafał Blechacz will play for the victims of the disaster

   From Torun as of April 11 (Polish)

Rafał Blechacz will play for the victims of the disaster
Rafał Blechacz, together with the organizers of the concert in Toruń – Marshal Piotr Całbecki Rector of UMK Prof. Andrew Radzimiński, agreed that his concert will be dedicated to the memory of the victims of the presidential plane crash.

Performance by Rafal Blechacz in Toruń - although during the Chopin Year - will not be limited to performances of music by the most famous Polish composer of the Romantic era. The pianist will present works by Bach, Mozart and Debussy.

The concert is a real godsend for music lovers. Since the bravura win in the Chopin Competition Blechacz is recognized as one of the finest pianists of the world. His performance is characterized by virtuosity without routine and pride. The musician has the nature to quest for, therefore, his interpretations are full of freshness seasoned with extraordinary sensitivity.

The artist performs at the largest and most prestigious halls of the world. He recorded several albums for the legendary record label Deutsche Grammophon.

Blechacz will play at the auditorium of the UMK on April 20 under the Science and Art Festival and the Chopin Year. - Due to the tragic event, the artist, the Marshal and the Rector decided that the concert will be dedicated to the memory of the victims of the plane accident - says Beata Krzemińska, a spokeswoman for the Marshal's office.

As was unofficially learned that Rafał Blechacz wants to include a special additional piece in the repertoire.

Gazeta Pomorska as of April 12
TPV Bydgoszcz as of April 12
Many other websites report this news.
Blechacz will play Mazurkas, Scherzo and Polonaise by Chopin and other composers'.
He will not take performance fees and says that this is his gift to the region on the occasion of the 200th birthday of Fryderyk Chopin.

Apr 11, 2010

Rafał Blechacz in tribute to victims of tragedy

↓ News from Nowoś (Polish)

Blechacz in tribute to victims of tragedy,
--Saturday, 10 April 2010; updated: 18:21 (Poland local time)

Rafał Blechacz, together with the organizers of the concert in Toruń – Marshal Piotr Całbecki and Rector of the UMK, Prof. Andrew Radzimiński, determined that his concert will be devoted to the memory of the victims of today's disaster. The concert by the winner of the Chopin Festival will be held in Toruń Festival of Science and Arts .

Apr 10, 2010

Sincere condolences to people of/from Poland

Upon the news of the tragic accident, let me express my deepest sorrow and sincere condolences to my Polish friends and people of/from Poland.


Apr 9, 2010

Review of Chopin Birthday Concerts by Adam Rozlach

"MAESTRO" on its April 9 issue gives a comprehensible review written by Adam Rozlach (Polish Radio) of concerts during the Chopin Birthday Week in Warsaw beginning with Rafał Blechacz's playing the 2nd Concerto on Feb.22.

MAESTRO, on April 9 (Polish)
Review of Rafał Blechacz's concerto is page 1 and 2.

English (machine-translated)


About Blechacz's recital in Washington DC on Feb.27, from Polish Embassy in DC.  

Apr 6, 2010

Review of Rafał Blechacz CD Chopin Concerti (France)

A review written by Gilles d’Heyres who compares the two CDs of Chopin's concertos released by Deutsche Grammophon, by Rafał Blechacz and Lang Lang,
posted on on April 5.

Original review (French)

One had told it to you well: 2010… it is Chopin year! The simultaneous release of these two novelties with the very similar appearance is a vivid proof of it.

Same publisher (DG), same program (the two Concertos of Chopin), distribution in the same nature (two very prominent young pianists, supported by two very experienced chief), same elite in the accompaniment (two of the best orchestras in the world), same care given to the recording (two halls of the legendary acoustics), same principle of capture (the First concerto captured in concert and the Second without public).

The temptation is therefore big to compare the match that is waged from a distance, by the Chinese Lang Lang (born in 1982) and the Pole Rafał Blechacz (born in 1985)…even if only to note that the face of the first appears twelve times in the note whereas the face of the second only seven times.

An approach too much centered on the commercial aspect of this parallel enterprise would be nevertheless unfair, so much these two disks prove to be of quality.

Quality of the recording sound first, the setting (Vienna music association on one hand, Concertgebouw of Amsterdam of the other), it is high.

Quality of the accompaniment next, but the “down-to-earth” direction of the orchestra by Zubin Mehta (who confuses Brahms and Chopin at the head of the Vienna Philharmonic which usually is more subtle) cannot compete with the distinction and subtlety of Jerzy Semkow, also followed by a valiant and attentive Concertgebouw.

Quality of the piano finally, both Lang Lang and Rafał Blechacz undoubtedly deserve their reputation of prodigy of piano.

The interpretative report is nevertheless clear: Rafał Blechacz beats Lang Lang completely... and in all phases of the playing!

In the First concerto in E minor first, where the confrontation is yet more balanced than in second half-time.

So the opus 11 by the Chinese pianist doesn't betray the style in the score of Chopin, providing rich and brilliant strikes, struggling however to assert himself facing the innumerable references discographies. Lang Lang may just multiply the metaphors (in the note), to "think merely of a beautiful landscape – or his mother…", to let go his imagination as "in love story" or be "engaged in [his] walking with someone in a garden [...] so close to the nature", resulting in a very ordinary interpretation of this concerto.

If the orchestra is applied more with Semkow than with Mehta, the accompaniment stays, finally, conventional enough in the two versions of the opus 11.

Certainly, the Chinese pianist delivers his own definition of the Romance. Larghetto: "it is as if one was on a boat that leaves the shore. And when the orchestra makes its entry, one sees a girl. It is very clean for me"...

But this is much less for the listener who hears a particular form of sentimentality in this second movement that Blechacz captures with a simplicity and delicacy of touch more persuasive - if not truly shocking.

Without revolutionizing the interpretation, Rafał Blechacz, by the personality of his playing, strives to be respectful of the text (contrary to the misplacements by the Lang / Mehta couple in the last movement) but never passive vis-à-vis the accents and nuances, in particular in Rondo vivace where the krakowiak is animated with relish by the native of Poland.

The gap is widened in second half-time...

In the Maestoso that opens the Second concerto in F minor, one first appreciates the magnificent playing by Lang Lang, straightforward and direct... too direct unfortunately, to the point that the slow motion and the contrasts of nuances seem at times very artificial.

On the contrary, Rafał Blechacz offers a less powerful touch but the strike always intelligent and otherwise more inspired.

In a Larghetto of anthology, the Polish pianist moves without pretense nor big strings, with frankness (the trills) and simplicity (the nuances piano), in perfect harmony with the exceptional accompaniment by the Concertgebouw: quite the opposite of Lang Lang and Zubin Mehta who did not seem listen enough to each other.

As for the last movement of the opus 21, Blechacz expresses himself with an infinite liberty, succeeding in freeing the mazurka of the boring parts that many soloists fall in.

It is better therefore, in front of the interpretation so successful, not to stay long with the Allegro vivace by Lang Lang (far too uneven) and Zubin Mehta (frankly tasteless).

 Read how Rafał Blechacz recorded the Chopin's concertos /other reviews of CD.


Apr 5, 2010

An opera fan deeply moved by Blechacz's piano

From a blog written by Madokakip, a Japanese living in NY who went to Rafał Blechacz’s NY recital on Feb.26.
She is a great fan of operas and maintains a fantastic blog about operas.
She usually doesn't go to piano recitals but happened to read another blog by a music teacher loving music & arts
writing about Blechacz’s recital in Osaka last year and felt like hearing Blechacz’s piano.

She writes: (excerpts from the long writing)

“Blechacz appeared walking to the piano, looks very young, naïve and fresh…looks 17 years old, but feels at home.
He was very quick in beginning to play the first piece of Bach (Partita No.1) without hesitation and was absorbed into the world of Bach,
creating his own world in less than no time.
How happily he plays piano!
The joy of life that he feels by playing piano came across to me.
I felt I saw many colorful soap bubbles blowing around him.”

“My impression is that he is no longer at a level of trying to play skillfully or make the audience impressed or seeking for his own style.
He devotes himself to conveying the beauty that he sees in each piece exactly as it is to the listeners.”

“I was astounded by Mozart’s sonata (K570)….I didn’t expect this extent.
He has a very rich palette of colors and his sound is like an orchestra.
Oh, the way he plays this phrase has a timber of wind instruments…If Mozart gives orchestration here, definitely it should be done by the wind…
A smile breaks out on my face unconsciously.”

“How he uses the left hand for the low voice is light and charming.
Other pianists may have sounded louder but he was light and soft.
It gives this piece distinctive liveliness and playfulness as if sticking out his tongue….
I felt as if I enjoy with him blowing soap bubbles.”

“He has an extraordinarily wide range of sound variations.
He knows thoroughly how the piano as an instrument should be played to create each desired sound.”

Madokakip was then surprised by Blechacz’s playing Debussy’s “Pour le piano” with a totally different mode.
It was unbelievable for her that this piece was played in such a manner by the same pianist:
"formidably powerful heavy bass sound; optimum balance between maturity and youthfulness.”

During the intermission, she made a call to her partner, asserting that it is the biggest mistake in his life not to be here at the concert hall.
After the recital, she called her parents in Japan and told them never fail to go to Blechacz’s concert if he comes to Japan.

The next day, she purchased all the CDs by Blechacz.

Her conclusion:
(all the CDs are beautiful but) you must listen to Blechacz’s piano live to really appreciate his true merits.
Never miss an opportunity, if any, to attend his concert that is scheduled in your vicinity,
otherwise I’ll call you to declare, “It is the biggest mistake in your life if you miss the Blechacz’s concert!”

She pledges to spread Blechacz's music to her colleagues and acquaintances in NY and America.
She believes he deserves a bigger audience.

I'm very pleased to know that fans of music other than piano were deeply inspired by Rafał Blechacz’s playing piano.
I'm a fan of symphonic music. Sometimes I feel it strange that I maintain this website about a single piano musician.
But he offers universality. His music reaches the deepest realm inside that is common to all.

TPV Bydgoszcz will air a reportage "Chopin Blechacza", encore broadcast from 2005 Competition incl. shooting the final concert from the backstage,
@17:15 on Monday (local time).   

Apr 3, 2010

When a listener is allowed to be with true music


Slide show of Chopin's birthplace in Żelazowa Wola, with Rafał Blechacz's playing Prelude in A flat major as BGM.

These pictures were taken by a French tourist who came to Warsaw on Feb.22 for Chopin's Birthday Concert (Rafał played the 2nd Concerto) and then to Żelazowa Wola.

↓ An impression of TV Arte's program on Rafał Blechacz's recital in Hamburg, aired in March this year, written by Beata, a fan in Poland.

"It gave me a great impression. After watching this program I couldn't get back for long time but really I didn't want to.

Excellently realized this music, my favorite Chopin's works...It was an incredible experience, almost like a concert in a hall, something less because not live but something more; you can not only hear, but see Rafał's face, his hands. He is wholly into the music, experiences feelings which music gives, so much so he goes through them!

And the music is very true thanks to that. I am very grateful that he agreed to recording this concert, let us close to him; a creative activity should be intimate, personal but he allowed us to participate in".

I thank Beata for describing the joy brought to your heart by your favorite musician. You and I and many others are very fortunate to know and listen to this genuine artist.
And thanks to Dana for translation.

April 3, @Japanese garden in the precinct of Sakura-Tower, Minato Tokyo

It has been unusually cold in winter and there was a snow storm even in March but Sakura (cherry) flowers came in full bloom diligently.


Apr 2, 2010

Reviews of Blechacz ' CD Choopin Concerti

Collection of mini-reviews of Rafał Blechacz's CD "Chopin The Piano Concertos" recently posted.

by Paul Boekkooi, posted on Rapport, on March 20 (South Africa).
Original review (Afrikaans)

Rafał Blechacz (24), winner of 2005's 15th International Frederic Chopin-Piano Competition in Warsaw, the playing of both of Chopin's piano concertos with his compatriot Jerzy Semkow as a conductor is a crowning jewel among the consignment of Chopin CDs specially issued for this year.

Blechacz is the first Pole to win this competition since 1975, when Krystian Zimerman walked away with top honors.

In both concertos he fell in detail but still refined playing. The improvising nature of the solos shows he leaves his understanding of rubato outstanding. It's a combination of radiant and poetic musicality like a fancy collar (?), where necessary, with dramatically charged moments always exactly placed right.

In the concertos' slow sections, both marked Larghetto, have agility and show a sensitive pianistic expression spectrum in which tranquility close together. Semkow, and the orchestra's accompaniment were very light and accurate.

Feb.22, 2010, Warsaw

by Olivier Brunel, posted on on March 31 (France).
Original review (French)

Winner of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 2005, the great Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz recorded in the studio, after a beautiful concert, the two piano concertos. Royal sonority, noble phrasing, and a lot of ardor, of impetus and youth in the First, of tenderness contained in the Second.

And construction is already very mature of these works in concerti accompanied by one of the best European orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, led by the Polish conductor Jerzy Semkow who seeks to demonstrate that the orchestration is not as flavorless as the reputation that one makes historically. And who will reach there if we judge by the magnificence of sound by the Concertgebouw Orchestra in a state of grace.

Gagnant du Concours Chopin de Varsovie 2005, l’excellent pianiste polonais Rafał Blechacz enregistre en studio, après un beau récital, les deux Concertos pour piano. Sonorité royale, phrasés nobles, et beaucoup de fougue, d’élan et de jeunesse dans le Premier, de tendresse contenue dans le Second.

Et aussi une construction déjà très mature de ces œuvres de concert accompagnées par un des meilleurs orchestres européens, le Royal Concertgebouw d’Amsterdam, dirigé par le chef polonais Jerzy Semkow qui s’efforce de démontrer que leur orchestration n’est pas aussi fade que la réputation qu’on leur fait traditionnellement. Et qui y parvient si l’on en juge par la somptuosité sonore d’un orchestre du Concertgebouw en état de grâce.

posted on on April 2 (Austria).
Original (German)

Stroke of luck

You would think that as a very young pianist Rafał Blechacz could be just new to Chopin. Surprisingly he has a lot. As a Pole, and of the same age as Chopin, when he wrote his two piano concertos, he has found not only a deeply emotional access, but he understands to internalize this music with his elegant playing so, without letting it all put the drama. Technically, he succeeds standing on the things superbly supported by the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam under Jerzy Semkow, a drawing of crystal clear interpretation with every detail.

by David Patrick Stearns, posted on California Chronicle on April 2 (U.S.)

(a part of review to cover several Chopin CDs released recently)
The Russian Primakov and Polish Blechacz distinguish themselves in an extremely crowded discography, the former with his crisp, smart, unsentimental and always danceable renditions of the mazurkas, the latter with concerto solo movements that feel as direct as speech even in some of the most lyrical music written for the piano. Conductor Semkow is unusually attentive in the rudimentary orchestral parts.

Rafał Blechacz' greeting for Festival in Toruń (Video)

Rafał Blechacz greeting, playing Heroic Polonaise (video)

@ UMK's Hall

Rafał Blechacz invites you to Festival of Science and Arts in Toruń.
He will give a recital at UMK: Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika (Nicolaus Copernicus University) at 17:00 on April 20 in commemoration of the event.
Program includes pieces by Bach, Mozart, Debussy and Chopin.

From the Festival's website:
Invitations to the concert will be won by taking part in competitions organized by several media.

(I've seen many many articles about the competition and shortage of the tickets recently.
Sincerely hope that as many young people, students as possible who honestly love Blechacz's music can join the recital.)

I got this video from Karolina, a fan of Rafał who'll try to get the ticket through the competition.
Many thanks to Karolina.
According to her, there will be an event of debate held at the university and Rafał will be joining the debate.
The theme is "interpretation of music".

With a special request from Rafał Blechacz, the entire piano class of Music Academy in Bydgoszcz will be invited to the recital.

Happy Easter♪