Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Aug 31, 2010

Voices of audience of Blechacz in San Sebastián


Comments from audience of Blechacz's recital in San Sebastián that were posted on the review article on Aug.28.

mikel: Impressive recital ... pity that people do not fill the theater ... for the same reason as always: it is neither as Sokolov, nor Zimerman, or Pogorelich, etc. many fail to attend this time ... well they must repent bitterly, because what happened yesterday was what the critic commented: the best of la Quincena!!!

Lorea: I-M-P-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!!!

marta: I’ll keep track of this great talent. Let’s stick in the future by attending his concerts. He proves that he doesn’t have to gesticulate or fuss flaunt to feel the music and transmit it. Class and elegance without equal. IMPRESSIVE.

(Comment from my acquaintance who attended a recital in Valldemossa)

"Szymanowski and Debussy were rendered beautifully by Rafał...They are more for reason and Chopin is more for heart but Rafał makes them for both, and it's a magic of Rafał's playing"..

Aug 30, 2010

Lovely recital in Valldemossa - Rafał Blechacz


Rafał Blechacz held a recital at the Plaza de la Cartoixa in Valldemossa for Chopin Festival on August 29.

"The recital was excellent...Tonight Rafał gave three encores because 700+ people in audience were clapping continuously and he played Nocturne op. Posthumous, and two mazurkas for them to thank them for such an enthusiastic reception in the Carthusian convent where Chopin stayed in the winter 1838/39 with George Sand and her two children: Solange and Maurice."

(Roman Frackowski)

Rafał Blechacz's recital for Schwetzinger SWR Festspielen webcast


Rafał Blechacz's recital for Schwetzinger SWR Festspielen (May 14) will be broadcast via Euroraadio (Estonia)
on August 30, @10:05-11:40 (EEST)

Please click on kuula reaalajas (listen live) on top and right.

(Thanks to Konstancja for the news!)

Aug 29, 2010

Blechacz interviewed in San Sebastián


An interview that Rafał Blechacz gave alongside with the recital in San Sebastián on August 27.

Original interview posted (Spanish)

My life is normal, I have friends.  But it is the piano that gives me happiness.
By  Maria Jose Cano

If the great pianist Krystian Zimerman has an heir, he is, without doubt, Rafał Blechacz (Naklo, 1985). Like Zimerman, Polish, the young performer has been praised and recommended by his compatriot without equal. Today he arrived to San Sebastián for the first time, after leaving steps on the best venues in the world, signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon label and gethered the best reviews.

- Your biography is impressive. With only 25 years you swept the Chopin Competition in 2005 getting all the awards and now, in July, won the prestigious International Prize of Accademia Chigiana. How did you make it?
- I don't know. I think the most important thing is to love music and to be totally natural, both in interpreting works and in life. It may also influence that I think we must take into account the intentions and suggestions of the composers when creating their works, but at the same time I try to bring new things.

- Would you say that the secret of your success is the result of innate qualities or iron discipline?
- I think that discipline is important, we must practice every day and in a systematic way. Then there is development of repertoire, learn new pieces and styles. As a pianist you should embrace not only romantic music, but also perform Baroque works, like those of Bach, or impressionists. And playing the organ. In my case it is my second passion and it connects directly to my childhood, when I heard this huge instrument when going to church. I was impressed. Then I realized that my instrument was the piano, but still I like return to my village, a small town of 22,000 northwest of Poland, Naklo, and hear the organ.

- When did you know you would want to be a pianist?
- I started piano at age of five, but then, at 7, I went to study in Bydgoszcz, where the music school has the name of Rubinstein.

- I guess that to arrive where you are, you have had to sacrifice things. Do you think your life is normal?
- Yes My life is very normal. I've never been unhappy by having to play the piano, quite the opposite. Since childhood piano is what made me feel better. Today I still maintain my childhood friends, but my happiness, the piano gives it to me.

- Zimerman, Rubinstein, Paderewski. What do Poles have to give such excellent pianists?
- I could not answer, because besides the piano it is a very individual activity and there are many great non-Polish pianists who play beautifully Chopin, such as Maurizio Pollini and Martha Argerich.

- It seems that you follow the footsteps of your compatriot, Krystian Zimerman. Since winning the Chopin Competition 1975 any Polish had not won and in 1985 he also won the prize of the Accademia Chigiana. Do you see things in common with him?
- Zimerman is one of my favorite pianists, and he was the last winner before I won the Chopin Competition. I have good relationship with him. When I won the contest he sent me a letter of congratulations and offered me a help at a moment when I found it difficult, as agents and media called me and I did not know how to move around in that world. He provided me his experience. He invited me to his home in Basel and we worked for five days. It was very important. We keep in touch.

- Today you premiere in San Sebastián with music by Szymanowski, Debussy and Chopin. Why this program?
- I chose two Polish and one French composers to show the various relationships that exist between them. Szymanowski is not as well known as Chopin, but his music is very interesting because it conveys emotions and because of its harmonies. In turn, it is a little impressionistic, like Debussy and what I want to do is to show the connections that exist between Debussy and Szymanowski and between Szymanowski and Chopin.

- It is almost an obligation to include Chopin after becoming a reference interpreter of his music and because of his birthday.
- Certainly. I usually dedicate the second part of my concerts to this composer and the first half to various composers of my repertoire. Moreover, people expect me to play Chopin by my association with him.

- They say you combine energy and enthusiasm of youth with an unusual maturity for your age. How do you feel when you hear these praises? Are you influenced by critiques?
- What really matters is that people are fulfilled with my interpretations. In fact, more than criticism my studies of philosophy supports me very much, specifically Ingarden's aesthetics. The studies help me look for other interpretations, new aspects and seek for the identity of the music.

- Do you do a kind of special preparation before giving a recital?
- Practice and good knowledge of acoustics of the hall. I work together with the tuner to try to match the intonation of the piano with acoustics.  We look for the combination of all so that it can get the best results.

- You are only 25. Do you hear something more than classical music? You attend concerts?
- Sometimes when I'm in the car I listen to music on the radio show, but it is not usual. In general, I only listen to classical music. And yes, I go to concerts. In addition that I have mentioned of Zimerman, I heard Pollini in Salzburg and an opera directed by Gergiev in Tokyo four years ago. I travel a lot and I have no time to do much more. And I surely go to my concerts. (laughs).

- Any other hobby?
- Music is the most important in my life, but I am also interested in philosophy. Otherwise, my life is completely normal: watch television, movie and read books. I also like driving and when I play in Europe I usually drive with my family and my father and I drive. We all came to San Sebastian with my parents and my sister.

- How do you plan for the future?
- I would like to develop my quality, both technical and musical levels. As I have new repertoire I'm getting better. Also contact with the public and knowing new halls of their acoustics is important for me. I am very occupied, and I have many requests for concerts until 2012.

- However, you don’t give many concerts each year. Why?
- I play a maximum of forty concerts a year, solo and orchestral concerts. It is my ceiling and I don’t want more. I need time to study and develop new programs.

- What are your challenges?
- My dream from the beginning was to play for the public in the world. Since I won the Chopin Competition I made it. Looking ahead, I would like to explore new repertoire, something that the contract I have with the Deutsche Grammophon certainly helps me, and among other things I wish enjoying music, my job and life.

Aug 28, 2010

Beauty of Blechacz's music changed acoustics - San Sebastián, Spain (review)


Review of Rafał Blechacz’s recital at Teatro Victoria Eugenia, San Sebastián, Spain on August 27, posted on four hours after the recital ended.
Original review (Spanish)

The best of la Quincena (the Fortnight): Rafał Blechacz

Blechacz at Victoria Eugenia, San Sebastián,
August 27, 2010

Not filled. They do not know what they missed. Best of la Quincena (the Fortnight), for the unexpected and quality. Neither Valery Gergiev, nor Mikhail Pletnev, nor Elisabeth Leonskaja.

Rafał Blechacz. Remember his name, because surely in a few years we'll manage to bring him back to Donostia (San Sebastian).

Rafał Blechacz belongs to that very reduced circle of artists who do not seem to be of this world. With only 25 years, he possesses all the qualities that can be requested from the best performer and more. Yesterday it was made very clear in Victoria Eugenia that the beauty of his sound seemed to have modified even its acoustics. Blechacz demonstrated that he is not a virtuous machine that gives all the notes in time and place, but rather he has the amazing ability to catch you with his music from the moment he begins to play.

And he gives the same no matter what he does: he transforms everything into art, in a speech built on a unique sonority that also combines logic and passion. The phrasing, the cult of silence or the necessary breathing became natural in him to the extent that his posture at the piano looked like an extension of the piano itself.  He made everything work in the service of music.

The first part of his performance allowed us to observe the incredible maturity of the pianist who was able to talk to you one on one with a highly technical and thematic Szymanowski. The 'Sonata in C minor', with an initial 'Allegro moderato' full of complications, was the culmination of two other known works that Blechacz was able to link with a very proper intentionality. The 'Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor', also by the Polish author verified the evident ability of the interpreter to show those sonorous plains with the absolute clarity. This 'Fugue' and also what appeared in the aforementioned 'Sonata' were a lesson of consistency carried out by the wise hands that actually did what they wanted to do on the keyboard. ‘L'isle joyeuse (The Island of Pleasure)’ by Debussy was fresh, appropriate in style and extremely convincing.

And still there remained the Chopin who has brought Blechacz to the best auditoriums in the world. The two 'Polonaises' and four 'Mazurkas' were true divertimentos in his capable hands and in his mature thought. The 'Ballad', which ended his recital, was a passionate, almost savage gift full of expressiveness and good taste. Unforgettable.

Aug 27, 2010

Rafał Blechacz in San Sebastián (preview + interview)


A preview plus interview with Rafał Blechacz in San Sebastián, posted on (Spanish) as of August 27, 2010.

"My dream was playing at venues such as la Quincena (the Fortnight) and I achieved it"

The 25 years old will perform today at Victoria Eugenia

Recommended by Zimerman, the Polish musician who won the prestigious Chopin Competition in 2005

by oier Aranzabal

Blechacz in San Sebastián , August 26

Enjoying the pianist Rafał Blechacz (1985) is not easy, because he plays only forty concerts a year. This "ceiling" can not exceed. By doing so he can prepare new compositions and recordings, and advance his studies, which have nothing to do with music. Today at 20:00 pm, those attending the concert given at the Teatro Victoria Eugenia, will have an opportunity to hear the young talent, recommended by the Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman. "The first time I heard of this young interpreter was in response to a call from Zimerman, who as you can imagine, does not call me every day," said Patrick Alfaya yesterday, the director of la Quincena Musical (the Musical Fortnight).

Blechacz, who, among other awards, won the 15th International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in 2005, will perform works by three different authors: Chopin himself, Karol Szymanowski and Claude Debussy. "I want to show the connection between these three authors, two of whom (Chopin and Szymanowski) are Poles," explained the pianist. He commended the second composer, as "less known" in Europe, but not least interesting. "The public expect me to play all the scores of Chopin, but I think it is important to show the other two artists who are less known but deserve being well known," he added.

He is also preparing a new album with the Deutsche Grammophon label (DG), where he has decided to introduce Szymanowski's songs and, as he explained at the news conference, performing them at the recitals is suitable for preparing his planned recording.

200 years: with this concert, la Quincera (Fortnight) wants to pay "tribute" to the figure of Chopin, who turns 200 years old. The young pianist, who has a great link with the historic music composer, has chosen typical Polish music and ballads for his appointment today which have a strong relationship with the life of Chopin. "He loved the folk songs of our country", which represent what the Polish maestro was, he explained, "and I have chosen the ballads because they are true reflection of life of any musician."

Just turned 25 years, Rafał Blechacz follows in the footsteps of the great Polish pianists like Zimerman and he himself is really respected.  He has published four albums from DG (sic), two of them are of Chopin's compositions, one of pieces by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart and the last one recorded with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, considered as one of the best formations in the world.

Now, after performing at Donostia, Blechacz is going on tour in Japan and France to meet his quota of 40 concerts in 2010. Although he travels all over the world and has gained in fame, he is calm and down to earth: "My dream was to play in scenarios like this and I've got it, now I can only continue to enjoy my job, music and, of course, my life. "

Another interview "My life is normal, I have friends but it is the piano that gives me happiness (Spanish)"
English will come out tomorrow (hopefully!)

Blechacz's news conference in San Sebastián (Video)

Rafał Blechacz at news conference in San Sebastián, talking about the recital repertoire in Spain, especially about Szymanowski (posted on Aug. 26).

(Thanks to Konstancja for quick dispatch of the info.)

TVP will air program of Rafał Blechacz

TVP HISTORIA will broadcast program of Rafał Blechacz
on Saturday, Aug. 28

17:00 - 17:15 - "Chopin Blechacza" [Blechacz's Chopin],
(A reportage about Rafał's victory in 2005 including talking with Rafał and his family members)

17:15 - 18:00 - "Dziekuje wszystkim Szopenom" [I thank you all to Chopin]
(Chopin played by Rafał)

(Appreciation to Roman Frackowski for the news)

Aug 26, 2010

Preview of Rafał Blechacz's recital in San Sebastian, Spain (2)

From noticias. terra. es;
introducing Blechacz, in the same manner as the preview on Aug.24 plus the pieces he will play.
The same news dispatch appears on many other websites in Spain.

(I'll put together an article on Friday, now have NO time, sorry!)

Aug 24, 2010

Preview of Rafał Blechacz's recital in San Sebastian, Spain

From the website of Quincena Musical de San Sebastián (The music month between Aug. 5 and Sept. 3)

August 27, 2010 @20:00
Rafał Blechacz, Piano recital at Teatro Victoria Eugenia, San Sebastian, the Basque Region

Two great comopers from Polish repertoire, Szymanowski and Chopin, with the subtle delicacy of Debussy, played by a rising star, Rafal Blechacz, the overwhelming winner of the Chopin Competition in 2005.

Karol Szymanowski
Prelude and fugue/Sonata op. 8, No.1
Claude Debussy  
 L'isle joyeuse
Frédéric Chopin  
Polonaises op.26
Mazurkas op. 41
Ballade op.23 No.1

Born in Poland in 1985. Began studying piano at age of five in a local music school and three years later he enrolled in the Conservatory of Bydgoszcz. Between 1996 and 1999 he obtained numerous first prizes in several national piano competitions in Poland. He is also the winner of the fourth International Piano Competition in Hamamatsu (2003) (sic) and won the Grand Prize at the International Piano Competition in Morocco (2004). In 2005 he became the sole recipient of the five first prizes of the XV International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, getting the first prize and prizes for the best performance of the polonaise, mazurka, sonata and concerto. A student of the renowned Professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, he was crowned with his studies at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz in 2007. In the past four years has worked with prominent European and American orchestras under the baton of the most renowned directors. His first CD, a recording of Chopin's complete Preludes and Nocturne op. 62, was released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2007, receiving unanimous praise from both critics and audiences.

Program page written in Basque (the same content as above)
May the artist have a safe stay there! 
Teatro Victoria Eugenia, San Sebastian

Rafał Blechacz will play for Valldemossa Chopin Festival on Aut. 29 again.
Program page: See Aug.29, you can hear Chopin op.62-2 played by Blechacz♪

Aug 20, 2010

Congenial virtuoso and poet to Chopin - German Award goes to Blechacz


Klassikakzente posted the news that Rafał Blechacz was given this year’s Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Prize of the German Record Critics) again on Aug. 19.

The jury of the "Prize of the German Record Critics" has decided: Rafał Blechacz among the winners.

Every year, the group of more than 140 recognized German music critics and journalists in the fields of classical and jazz / pop selects up to 11 artists or re-issues who are outstanding for their special quality from the substantial amount of annual publications. Two artists from the Universal House are the winners this year: For his remarkable recording of Chopin's Piano Concertos No. 1 and No. 2, the Polish pianist of next generation Rafał Blechacz receives the sought-after  prize in the category Classical. Second, the prize in the category of pop goes to the "American Album VI: Ain't  No Grave" in 2003, by late rock 'n' roll legend Johnny Cash. Seven years after the death of the great musician, the master producer Rick Rubin completed this album with the six-part cycle of "American Recordings" that the two worked together and played. 

The eleven award winners in 2010 are: 

"He is not only a virtuoso, he is also a poet," wrote Heinrich Heine on Chopin. In 1829 and 1830 when he composed his two piano concertos, he was just 20 years old.
175 years later, a congenial virtuoso and poet triumphed, also only twenty-year-old Pole Rafał Blechacz with the E minor concerto at the 2005 Warsaw Chopin Competition.

The recording of two works by Deutsche Grammophon benefited from the impressive Acoustics of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and its excellent orchestra. Blechacz’s playing, supported well by the conductor Jerzy Semkow, boasts of impeccable technique and youthful verve. More than that, the creative power of the young performer affects. His beautifully balanced rubati, extract melodic phrases with a restrained magic and plunge us into the 'sweet abyss' (Heine) that makes Chopin's art so compelling. 
Prof. Lothar Prox, chairman of the jury)

„Er ist nicht nur Virtuose, er ist auch Poet“, schrieb Heinrich Heine über Chopin. Als er in den Jahren 1829 und 1830 seine beiden Klavierkonzerte komponierte, war er gerade 20 Jahre alt. Kongenial virtuos und poetisch triumphierte 175 Jahre später der ebenfalls erst zwanzigjährige Pole Rafal Blechacz mit dem e-moll-Konzert beim Warschauer Chopin-Wettbewerb 2005. Die Einspielung beider Werke durch die Deutsche Grammophon profitierte von der beeindruckenden Akustik des Amsterdamer Concertgebouw und seinem hervorragenden Orchester. Blechacz’ Spiel, bestens unterstützt vom Dirigenten Jerzy Semkow, besticht durch makellose Technik und jugendlicher Verve. Mehr noch berührt die gestalterische Kraft des jungen Interpreten. Seine wundervoll ausbalancierten Rubati, die den melodischen Phrasen ihren verhaltenen Zauber abgewinnen, stürzen uns in die „süßen Abgründe“ (Heine), die Chopins Kunst so unwiderstehlich machen.
(Für die Jury: Lothar Prox)

This article from "general anzeiger bonn"dated August 11 compares the German Record Critics' Award to ECHO award.  If the glamorous "Echo" is above all an echo of the sales charts and when a CD is leading the charts for weeks, it will be successful at the Echo Awards, this Record Critics' Award is about outstanding quality of recordings and DVDs, selected by an independent jury of over 140 critics with expertise.

(Note: Blechacz's recording "Chopin Complete Preludes" received the Echo Award in 2008.)

Related postings on this blog:

Aug 19, 2010

Blechacz playing Chopin's Preludes op.28-13, 20 (Video)

These contemplating and impressive performances are from the recording session of "Preludes" in Hamburg, 2007.

Aug 17, 2010

Review of Rafał Blechacz's concert with Tugan Sokhiev in Toulouse, 2007

From my archive
Review of Rafał Blechacz's playing concerto in E minor by Chopin
with National de Capitole de Toulouse
Directed by Tugan Sokhiev
on October 13, 2007 at Halle aux grains, Toulouse

written by Alexandre Pham

Original review (French) from

Young pianist of 22 years ( born June 30, 1985 in Nakło nad Notecią, Poland ), distinguished in Warsaw at the Chopin Competition in which he won first prize in October 2005, Rafał Blechacz affirmed himself at every concert and every his recital, as "the " new interpreter of Chopin. The contest had well distinguished in their times the glowing eloquency of Martha Argerich and of Krystian Zimermann ( Competition 1975, the last Polish pianist before Rafał Blechacz to win the prestigious trophy) . His subtle, detached, particularly articulated playing stresses what Chopin’s writing borrows from the legato of Bellini, but also specific contribution of the performer, its climate related to childhood, to murmur, to dream, to withdrawal and the onirism. These are all qualities that the young pianist can cultivate with the grace that is natural, sober, singing, marking the spirit and the ear by his gentleness and his “amazing" style.  In the pianist's touch, without reservation and without false assignment, the intensity of the inner song was heard, melancholic and engaged in action at the same time.

Warsaw, Feb.22, 2010

After his first recital in France at La Roque d'Antheron, Rafał Blechacz gave his first concerto with orchestra in a hall in Toulouse. In the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Frederic Chopin, Tugan Sokhiev and Rafał Blechacz made up a dream duo: the chef listens to the solo instrument, balances the relationship between soloist and orchestra, deploying a powerful springboard for the young pianist, encompassing and making dialogue at the same time.  To the virile, remarkably sharp and balanced chef, responded the soft and natural sensitivity of the young pianist.

His approach to Polonaise, Mazurkas, Concerto No. 1 has yielded many other distinctions revealing his affinity with Chopin. His playing of the sonatas has even been awarded the Prize by Krystian Zimerman, who is one of the models for young Rafał Blechacz .
The magician duo Sokhiev / Blechacz appears after Toulouse in Germany, with the same program, from Essen to Stuttgart**.

And in Paris , we are still waiting in early 2008 ( January 27 at the Châtelet*** . Mozart and Chopin recital , followed by Narbonne, January 28 : Mozart , Debussy, Szymanowski , Chopin ...). When on the disk the young prodigy enters now in the stable Deutsche Grammophon, in January 2008 with a recital devoted to the 24 Preludes ... Chopin!

 Toulouse. Halle aux grains, Saturday, October 13, 2007 . Hector Berlioz Opening Corsair. Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Opus 27. Rafał Blechacz, piano . Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse  Direction : Tugan Sokhiev.

October 16th,2007 at 20.00, Essen, Philharmonic
October 17th,2007 at 20.00, Duesseldorf, Tonhalle
October 22nd,2007 at 20.00, Cologne, Philharmonic
October 23rd,2007 at 20.00, Frankfurt, Alte Oper
October 26th,2007 at 20.00, Stuttgart, Liederhalle

Read the review of Blechacz's recital at the Châtelet, Paris, January 27, 2008

This article of Gazeta Pomorska on Aug. 18 suggests that there is a possibility that Blechacz plays at church in Mrocza, Nakło, in December this year (still under pre-arrangement).

Aug 15, 2010

Blechacz quotes in media of France and NY - about Szafarnia and Żelazowa Wola

Japanese (France) posted an article "On the trail of Chopin, the landscape of memory", introducing those places in connection with Chopin in Poland and France (May 12, 2010) (see some beautiful pictures.)

(At about two thirds from the top):
The article describes Chopin in Szafarnia where he spent two summers in 1824 and 1825 (he was 14 or 15 years old).  He sent letters to his family in the name of the editor of the “Courier Szafarnia”, calling himself “Mr. Pichon”.  One of the articles that he compiled reads;
“Mr. Pichon had a great trouble with the cousins he encountered at Szafarnia where they crowd upon. They bit as much as possible but thankfully they spared his nose which otherwise would become even greater."
(Note: "Cousin" in French has two meanings: cousin and mosquito.)

On August 29, 1824, he met a "Catalani (singer) of village" when passing in Nieszawa and was charmed by the mazurka that she interpreted for him (with three coins!). Encountered with rural weddings and dances, Chopin was deeply permeated into popular music, fertile ground for future mazurkas.  In this remote area they want to perpetuate the small museum in Szafarnia, converted into a music school. The pianist Rafał Blechacz, last winner of the Warsaw Chopin Competition (2005) who is from the region, remembers having played when he was nine years old "a suite by Bach, a piece of Mozart, two sonatines by Scarlatti and even a sonatine of my composition. I was very impressed by playing in those places where my parents told me that Chopin had spent summers during his childhood."

Another quote from, an article of Polish community titled, "One Composer, Many Emotions Among Polish Immigrants", celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of their great composer (June 28, 2010).

.....Born in Żelazowa Wola, a tiny village west of Warsaw, he returned to the Polish countryside throughout his childhood. There, he encountered peasants playing folk music and dancing traditional Polish dances–mazurkas and polonaises. These memories inspired many of his later pieces. “He put Poland in his music,” says Janusz Sporek, a musician and the Chopin event organizer.

“Chopin’s music may be universal, but I feel very lucky to have had access to those places where Chopin used to go to, like Żelazowa Wola where he was born and various places in Warsaw where his music was created,” said Rafał Blechacz, one of the most famous Polish contemporary pianists who played at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York earlier this year. “Definitely various dancing rhythms which are present in mazurkas and polonaises, we Poles can understand easier.”

Aug 14, 2010

Blechacz's official website posts news of International Prize of Chigiana


On Aug. 13, Rafał Blechacz's official webpage posted the news that Rafał Blechacz received the International Prize of Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Chigiana Musical Academy).

Rafał Blechacz official website (English)
Rafał Blechacz official website (Polish)

You can see the photo of the prize that is in a form of a silver sphere designed by Fritz König, a renowned contemporary sculptor, who is also an author of the monument at the World Trade Center in New York..  (It survived 9/11 and was relocated to Battery Park.)

"The Sphere" by Fritz König (Battery Park, NY)

Related posting on this blog:
About the Prize
Commemorative recital in Siena
Review of the recital

Aug 12, 2010

Bryce Morrison's review of Blechacz's "Piano Recital" for Gramophone Magazine


From my archive;
A review of Rafał Blechacz’s debut recording “Piano Recital” written by Bryce Morrison for Gramophone Magazine January 2006.  Bryce Morrison wrote liner notes for Blechacz’s “sonatas – haydn, mozart, beethoven” for Deutsche Grammophon.

Rafał Blechacz Chopin Polonaise No 6, 'Heroic', Op 53 Debussy Suite bergamasque Liszt Two Concert Studies, S145. La leggierezza, S144 No 2 Schumann Piano Sonata No 2 Szymanowski Variations, Op 3
Rafal Blechacz pf CD Accord ACD136-2 (66' • DOD) leggierezza') but the sound is adequate and Blechacz is clearly a talent to watch, one that could well move beyond the limited world of competition success.
Bryce Morrison

Rafał Blechacz is a 20-year-old Polish pianist. Winner of many prizes (in Morocco and Japan as well as, most recently, the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw), all his performances show the engaging freshness and vitality of first love unblunted by over-familiarity. His Schumann Sonata has all the nervous intensity and propulsion of a live performance with a racy response to such endearing pell-mell instructions as 'as fast as possible', 'faster,' and 'still faster'. He is notably clear-sighted in the finale, even if his occasional lack of poetic revelation makes you regret Schumann's decision (egged on by evercautious Clara) to replace his original intricate and audacious finale with a weaker alternative.

Blechacz is again formidably assured in his selection of Liszt etudes, most notably in the storming central outburst in 'Waldesrauschen' where 'the boughs droop down not so much as leaves but as tassles which the wind sways and dashes to and fro' (Sacheverell Sitwell).

But his greatest success is on native ground when he turns to Szymanowski's early and opulent Variations, and never more so than in the final Allegro con fuoco** (where Szymanowski takes his cue from Brahms's Handel and Paganini Variations), passing on its virtuoso glory with unabashed energy and enthusiasm. Again, if his way with Debussy's Suite bergamasque suggests more sense than sensibility (his 'Passepied' is marginally too fast to suggest fully its pattering archaic charm), his Chopin Polonaise is truly heroic.
Accord's notes are muddy and ill-defined (they mistake Liszt's lamento' for 'La
(the review ends here.)

**You can hear the Allegro con fuoco of Szymanowski's Variations from this Video. (at 00:50-)

From blog of A. P. Møller Skolen (Dane)

"Wednesday 11 August 2010
Festival Concert at A. P. Møller Skolen
On the 5th of August a classical piano concert was held at A. P. Møller Skolen as part of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. The 300 tickets were available and were all sold out to the classical audience who attended the concert by the Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz".

Aug 10, 2010

Queen in the audience of Blechacz, 2005


On August 5, I posted news that Doña Sofia, the queen of Spain, has an intention to go to the recital by Rafał Blechacz held for the Valldemossa Chopin Festival on Aug. 29.

In the following day, I got a mail from Jan (the Netherlands) that Blechacz had Queen Fabiola of Belgium in the audience in 2005 Warsaw (Jan, thanks).

See at 3:37.

Jan wrote; "Now I am waiting for queen Beatrix of Holland in his audience"

Aug 8, 2010

"My adventure with music by Chopin began when I was 11 years old", says Blechacz.


This is an article that Anna Skulska (Polish Radio) wrote down based on an interview that Rafał Blechacz gave to her on Feb. 21.  The article was posted on on July 27.
Karolina (Poland) found the article and sent it to me with her translation.
Let me thank her for the great contribution to readers of Preludia.

Original article from, July 27 (Polish)
Outline of the interview that Blechacz gave on Feb. 21 (Audio interview available)

Pride in this music. 
My adventure with music by Frederic Chopin began when I was 11 years old.

During the Bach Competition in Gorzów I had to play a piece by Chopin, and I performed  Nocturne in B major, Op. 32 No.1.  I was fascinated by beautiful melodic lines and interesting modulations. I was still very small, not reaching for the pedals, so I played standing up ...

Later I expanded the repertoire of romantic stream, because next competitions, already international ones came. For example, in Hamamatsu in 2003, I played Scherzo in B minor, Op. 20, selected nocturnes, mazurkas - Chopin's music grew ever closer. Slowly, the idea of the Chopin Competition was appearing. In those youthful years, Chopin was for me the unique creator. When I played his works, I felt pride. Because something like "pride" is in this music, and it was conveyed to me especially! Certainly I favored this feeling that Chopin is "our" composer.

I vividly remember Chopin Competitions in 1995 and 2000, It was a feast in my house. I watched all the performances and gave my own grades to the contestants. I dreamed of participating in the contest, which mobilized me to work. I did not think that these dreams of children and youth would come true so quickly, and the result would be so wonderful ...

Why is Chopin's music so great? Why it influences future generations? The answer is probably simple. It's music full of emotions, it is joy and sadness, but also peace and drama. Besides Chopin allows us performers to communicate our emotions, every time different.

Thanks to this, interpretations become deep and true. Obviously my interpretation of composition of Chopin is changing. This is affected by experiences, which I gained performing  with many orchestras, under the baton of different conductors, and each of them has his own vision of piano concertos. It was different when I played with Valery Gergiev, and when I prepared concerto under the baton of Mikhail Pletnev, who developed his own instrumentation. It is true that my part was not greatly changed, but more complete, more Russian sound of orchestra was made and to me the concerto appeared with a different aura.

When, in turn, performing under the button of Antoni Wit, it seems to me that emotions of the competition return and my Chopin is full of youthful energy. It was interesting to record both concertos with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, conducted by Jerzy Semkow. This charismatic master has something majestic and this transmigrates into the music, at least in the introductions in early parts of the concertos. The maestro treated it more symphonic than other conductors, but this is consistent with the style of Chopin. And against this background the rondos sounded very distinctly and effectively. With Jerzy Semkow, the sounds that I always dreamed of were obtained.

Each of the works of Frederic Chopin was a challenge for me. We can say that this composer's works are mysterious, containing a lot of contexts of different moods. They are after all reflections of experience of the artist. The idea of interpretation is to create these experiences in interpretations, and then transmit them to the public.

Working on Polonaise Fantasie in A flat major, Op. 61 proved to be a unique experience.  I would call this piece "Chopin's testament" ; everything is included in it; elements of the polonaise, reflections, fragments of improvisation, the whole range of different emotions, from sorrow, total despair to the great victory. I always wonder what Chopin could feel, what he thought when he created this work. The form of this composition is difficult to comprehend, because at first sight and hearing, it seems that it is impossible to link various elements together. But this is only an illusion; exploring it in detail allowed me to understand that one element causes the second outcome, and the big challenge is to demonstrate that construction. In addition, the finale of the Polonaise is amazing and every time I play this composition, I feel a great emotion.

Final of Polonaise Fantasie -ultimate fufillment

Aug 7, 2010

Another excellent recital in Lübeck

On Aug. 6, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital for Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival at Kolosseum, Lübeck.

According to those who went to the recital, the recital was excellent, the public very enthusiastic and multiple encores (they couldn't count how many)!


“The recital went very well with Rafał playing beautifully
and the audience reacting enthusiastically after the first part
and with a thunder after the final sound for which Rafał rewarded them with two encores.”

(Courtesy: Roman Frackowski)

Aug 5, 2010

Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival enthralled by Blechacz' playing


Rafał Blechacz gave a recital for Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival at A.P. Møller Skolen, Schleswig, on August 5.

"Rafał played a beautiful recital in Schleswig last night, August 5, 2010.
The audience was very enthusiastic although the hall could only absorb 300 people. But they were applauding so vigorously and loudly as if it was a big concert hall and Rafał gracefully responded with two encores."

(Courtesy Roman Frackowski)

He will give another recital for the festival at Kolosseum, Lübeck on August 6.


"Wednesday 11 August 2010
Festival Concert at A. P. Møller Skolen
On the 5th of August a classical piano concert was held at A. P. Møller Skolen as part of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. The 300 tickets were available and were all sold out to the classical audience who attended the concert by the Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz".

Spanish queen Sofia wants to attend Blechacz's recital in Valldemossa

Rafał Blechacz will give recitals late this month in Spain.

Queen Sofia of Spain has an intention to go to the recital on Aug. 29.

The Queen wants to return to Valldemossa Chopin Festival. 
Queen Sofia was delighted with the inaugural concert of the event.

Following her attendance at the opening day of the Valldemossa Chopin Festival, Queen Sofia expressed her intention to go there again in the following day to witness the concert by Rafał Blechacz, the first prize winner in piano in Warsaw.

S.M. la Reina

Monarquia confidencial (Spanish)

The Queen will cultivate her love of classical music. She wants to attend a piano recital by the young Polish.
Queen Sofia has received an invitation to return to the Valldemossa Chopin Festival, Aug. 29, to the recital of Rafał Blechacz, first prize in the Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. The Queen attended the opening ceremony on Sunday on the occasion of her stay in Mallorca.

After the concert on Sunday, the Queen personally congratulated the Baleares Symphony Orchestra, Antoni Wit, director of the Warsaw Philharmonic, and pianist Ivan Martin for their performance.
Queen Sofia was named president of honor of the festival and museum of Valldemossa in 1990. (English)
Outline of Valldemossa Chopin Festival.

My guess is that the amiable, elegant and graceful queen loves the noble touch of Rafał Blechacz.


The advertisement of concerts by Rafał Blechacz and Krystian Zimerman in autumn, which appeared on Nikkei newspaper, the biggest economic daily in Japan, on June 24.
(Click the photo to enlarge the ad.)

(Courtesy: Japan Arts)

One of my colleagues decided to go to Blechacz's recital in October after spotting this ad on the newspaper in June.

Aug 3, 2010

Preview of Blechacz's recitals for Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival (Germany)


Rafał Blechacz will give recital twice for Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival;
A.P. Møller Skolen, Schleswig, on August 5
@ Kolosseum, Lübeck on August 6.

Preview from the program page of the festival (German), Aug.5, and
Aug. 6

On the trail of Chopin

Big words make nothing for him, it’s great, however, to hear him, if he sits down at the grand piano. Rafał Blechacz is stepping on the way to follow the footsteps of Krystian Zimerman. Since 2005 when he was just 20 years old and rarely won the first Prize and three special prizes of the prestigious Warsaw Chopin competition, the Pole was catapulted to come into focus of media attention. Six months later, he gained the exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and three CDs have been released.

"Chopin’s music is very special for me, his emotions were always very close to me. I believe that my musical intuition plays a major role here. Somehow, I almost always knew that a given phrase should sound so and so, in such a rubato that should be played and modeled so and not otherwise.  I could feel this internally, and I try to present it", commented Blechacz in 2008 for the Austrian Steinway Magazin. ⇒Read the interview (1), (2).

Seemingly, for Blechacz everything emerges intuitively and with big naturalness. The audience in Schleswig-Holstein has now the opportunity to listen to Blechacz’s great performance of Chopin twice.

A.P. Møller Skolen, Schleswig
The AP Møller Skolen in Schleswig is a Danish community school. It is a gift of Danish AP Møller Foundation, which established, among other things, the opera house in Copenhagen. The school was established on September 1, 2008.  The building was designed by the renowned Danish firm CF Møller Architects and a  special attention was paid to the acoustics. Thus, the ballroom of the School became ideally suited for concerts of SHMF.

The 25th Jubilee edition of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany will be dedicated to Polish music. Over a dozen works from Polish composers will be among the 136 concerts performed by acclaimed musicians.

Many Polish artists will perform at the festival in Germany, including: Piotr Anderszewski, Rafał Blechacz, Ewa Podleś, Sinfonia Varsovia, Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra "Amadeus" conducted by Agnieszka Duczmal, etc...

The Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival was started in 1986 and focuses on the music of a different country every year: Austria in 1986, followed by Norway, Italy Japan and Hungary. The focus of the 2010 edition is Poland.  This year's edition of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival will run from July 10 to August 29.

Aug 1, 2010

Rafał Blechacz given annual prize of German Record Critics' Award


In my blog article on June 8, I reported that Rafał Blechacz was to be awarded annual prize of the German Record Critics' Award for his recording of Chopin's two piano concertos. as of June 16 posted news of the award giving.

Rafał Blechacz Wins Annual Award

The Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz wins the prestigious and sought-after Prize of the German Record Critics (Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik) in the category "Concerto" for his recording of two piano concertos by Chopin with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Jerzy Semkow.
In the reason of the jury it reads:
"Blechacz, well supported by the conductor Semkow, played with immaculate technique and youthful verve. More than that, the creative strength touches this young interpreter. His beautifully balanced rubati extract melodic phrases with a restrained magic and plunge us into the 'sweet abyss' (Heine)** that makes Chopin's art so compelling. "


**Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) was the first literary giant to write as a journalist about music and musicians.  No one at that time made a greater contribution to Parisian musical life than he did.  Considering his credentials, it is no surprising that his criticisms were infused with poetic imagery.  Thus, to him, Chopin was "the Raphael of the Piano".
"Hearing Chopin, I quite forget his mastery as a performer on the keyboard and sink into the sweet abyss of his music, into the huting loveliness of his creations, as deep as they are tender."
(from a book by Seymour Bernstein)

In June I had no time to visit KlassikAkzente website, but let me say that the German site is a very good source of information of Blechacz's artistic activities as a promo magazine published by Deutsche Grammophon, DECCA, Universal and ECM.