Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz

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Oct 31, 2010

Blechacz's performance of Polonaise on NHK, Oct. 31 @21:00-22:00

Japanese

NHK published detailed program of Minna-no Chopin: special program dedicated to Chopin to be aired on Oct.31 @18:45-22:45.

In the program, Rafał Blechacz will appear sometime between 21:00 and 22:00 to play Polonaise op.53, according to the announcement.

In the program, Chopin Top 10 pieces selected by popularity vote by viewers will be performed by several Japanese pianists and three winners of Chopin Competition (Blechacz, Bunin and Dang Thai Son).


Rafał Blechacz - Polonaise op.53
Stanislav Bunin - Waltz op.64-1
Dang Thai Son - Barcarolle
Hiroko Nakamura - Waltz op.34
Nobuyuki Tsujii - Prelude op.28-15,
                       (playing in Mallorca)
Yukio Yokoyama -
Michie Koyama - playing at Żelazowa Wola,
               reporting of 16th Chopin Competition
Takashi Yamamoto
Makoto Ozone (Jazz pianist), etc...


Other personalities featured in the program:
Fukusuke Nakamura, Kabuki actor, performing a special dance in dedication to Chopin
     (Kabuki is a Japanese traditional theatrical performance)
Shogo Kariyazaki, flower arrangement artist, arranging flowers to pay homage to Chopin
Yumi Matsutoya, J-pop singer and song writer, visiting Chopin's places in Warsaw
YOSHIKI, rock singer, producer, music therapist, performing Chopin in Los Angeles




***************************

October 31, 2010  Thank you Rafał Blechacz
Blechacz's Performance of Polonaise in A flat major op.53 was presented at around 21:20.  Full of dignity and nobleness. Very impressive.
(NHK filmed Blechacz's performance in mid Oct. during his stay in Japan.)

During the four hour live program, viewers' popularity voting was conducted to select the most popular piece by Chopin via the Internet voting and  Polonaise op.53 was selected as the most favorite Chopin music in the end.  (Many viewers voted for the Polonaise op. 53 after watching Blechacz's performance, making the Polonaise op. 53 coming from behind to beat other pieces).  So op.53 was again performed by a Japanese pianist at the end of the program.
I saw a lot of postings by blogs and twitters praising Blechacz's performance after the program was aired.

**Top 10 popular Chopin pieces selected by viewers' vote
1  Polonaise in A flat major op.53
2  Concerto No.1 in E minor
3  Fantaisie-Impromptu op.66
4  Etude op.10-3
5  Ballad No.1
6  Nocturne op.9-2
7  Barcarolle
8  Etude op.10-12
9  Ballad No.4  and  Scherzo No.2

Oct 27, 2010

From exhibition "Chopin-Blechacz" in Nakło, Poland

Japanese

Exhibition "Chopin - Blechacz" opened in Nakło nad Notecią, Rafał Blechacz's birth place, on October 26 at the Muzeum Ziemi Krajenskiej (Museum of Krajna Region).
From website of Kurier Nakielski, you can see photos of opening ceremony and some displays.
Website of Nakło nad Notecią also shows some photos.








Oct 26, 2010

Photos and message of gratitude to Rafał Blechacz from Fukuoka

Japanese

Acros Fukuoka Symphony Hall posts Belcahcz's photos taken during the recital on Oct. 21 on its website.


(From the website of Acros Fukuoka)
We are pleased to report that we had Rafał Blechacz playing a piano recital here, the third of the series of “Chopin Year Special Concerts”.

With high expectations on the live concert of all Chopin program to be presentd by the winner of the previous edition of the Chopin Competition, a great number of people came way before the time of opening the hall.

In the first half, he played Scherzo No.1 where the theme of Polish Christmas carol “Lulajże Jezuniu” (sleep, little Jesus, sleep) is gently heard as Blechacz mentioned as one of the finest passages, as well as Ballad No.1 and three waltzes.  We were taken into the world of Chopin by Blechacz’s delicate and powerful delivery.

After the intermission, he played two Polonaises, four Mazurkas and Ballad No.2.  We heard the masterpieces of Polonaises and Mazurkas by the performer who is highly acclaimed for the Polish music.  With the overwhelming technique, his graceful performance let us full of emotions.  Evidently, he expanded artistic capacity since the previous recital here in 2006.

The public didn’t stop applauding and he replied with three encores! Heroic Polonaise, Nocturne No.20 (posthumous) and Mazurka op.50-2, reminiscent of the great performances in the previous Chopin Competition.
We were more than happy and would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Rafał Blechacz!

Oct 25, 2010

Rafał Blechacz will appear on NHK, Japan's public TV, Oct.31

Japanese

I wrote in mid October that Blechacz's playing Chopin will be broadcast by NHK (Japan's public broadcaster) on October 31.
In order to double check, I sent inquiry to NHK and today I got the answer.

Certainly, Blechacz's playing Heroic Polonaise will be presented in "Minna-no Chopin: the special program of Chopin" by NHK BS hi on October 31 @18:45-22:45.

As for the exact time that Blechacz will appear, please see the website of the program a few days before Oct. 31, according to the PR person of this program from NHK.

Website of Minna-no Chopin (Japanese)

The PR person wrote; "Mr. Blechacz's performance of the Polonaise is really fantastic!  Please enjoy the program."

**Please be reminded that the planned performance is subject to a sudden cancellation/change without prior notice.

Oct 23, 2010

Exhibition "Chopin - Blechacz" will be open in Nakło nad Notecią



Japanese

Exhibition "Chopin - Blechacz" will be open in Nakło nad Notecią, Rafał Blechacz's birth place, on October 26 at the Muzeum Ziemi Krajenskiej (Museum of Krajna Region;  Krajna Region is a historical and ethnological name for the area where Nakło nad Notecią is located, in its southern corner). A choir Spare Style will be singing at the opening ceremony on October 26, 17:00. The exhibition will be held till November 21, 2010.

The exhibition is really worth visiting and it is quite important not only for Nakło but for a broader public because many objects are on lease from Rafał Blechacz's private collection (like his prizes in a form of statuettes, congratulatory letters, photos, etc.)





"The exhibition "Chopin – Blechacz" shows the Fryderyk Chopin music in Rafał Blechacz’s artistic life. The exhibition presents among others CDs and pictures of Rafał Blechacz, souvenirs related to the pianist adolescence in Nakło nad Notecią, his family town, and paintings and publications related to the Chopin Year. "

Nakło nad Notecią website (Polish)

(News from a friend of Roman Frackowski, a native of Nakło nad Notecią, now living in US)

Blechacz- - Born in the country of Chopin --essay by Tsutomu Nasuda

From the program booklet of Rafał Blechacz Piano Concert 2010 in Japan

Rafał Blechacz- - Born in the country of Chopin
By Tsutomu Nasuda

(This essay is based on the interview that Blechacz gave to Nasuda in Feb. 2009)

Poland has produced many excellent pianists.  Their characteristics are varied: Paderewski, the national hero of Poland with the strong personality and aura; Rubinstein, the maestro of gorgeous music and temperament; recalling the winners of the Chopin Competition, Czerny-Stefańska, a magnificent big flower; Zimerman, man of sharp intelligence and elegance.  But I think it is unprecedented to have a pianist like Rafał Blechacz.  He never cries out loudly or overwhelms with power but listening to his playing, listeners feel at peace and fulfilled.  The “natural and amazing” pianism is very charming.

I had an opportunity to interview him in Feb. last year when he came to Japan to play as a soloist for the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and give solo recitals.  The topics of discussion were in wide range; organ, his favorite instrument, Bach, Polish traditional playing of Chopin’s music.  The way he talked was gentle and composed, unpretentious without exaggerate gesture, suggesting that he is a man of peaceful mind and harmony.  The characteristics are reflected on his music, too.

People of Poland are religious.  Rafał Blechaczi is not exceptional and he attends church regularly even when touring in Japan.  “Faith supports me when I do activities as a musician.  For me it is important that Bach, Mozart and great musicians found important meaning in faith”, he says.
It was an organ of his parish church that gave him a motive of learning music when he was young.  Actually Blechacz looks very happy when talking about organ.  Four days after he won the 2005 Chopin Competition, he got permission from the organist to play the wonderful organ installed in Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw.  For many hours.  “I was able to sit at the organ in that hall where nobody was there and play as much as I liked.  It’s a very pleasant memory.  For me it was a special award of winning the competition”.

The story is a good example to show Blechacz’s personality and how he sees music.  It also reminds me that Chopin was fond of playing organ since his childhood.  Blechacz began learning piano as a natural course.  At age of 17, he won the 2nd place in the competition in Poland and the 2nd place (the highest award) in Hamamtsu Piano Competition in the following year. He kept showing remarkable results in major competitions, leading up to the victory of 2005 Chopin Competition as is well known.  I believe that the process was not easy and he had been making every possible effort every day but he says;
“I’m like a bird who has no day when he doesn’t fly. I have no day when I don’t play piano”.
I’m not aware of even a small sign of difficulties from his tranquil manner of talking.  For him playing piano is natural, something like breathing.

When I watch his playing from DVD of the Chopin Competition, I’m attracted by his flexible touch, exceptionally beautiful pianissimo, his ability of concentration and technical accuracy.  At the same time I’m fascinated by his single-minded attitude towards music and highly pure expression.  It’s understandable that his performance at the competition let the judges shed tears. It is about the great harmony among technique, music and soul.  After the competition, Blechacz’s music grew further.  At age of 25, he already has an enormous capacity to embrace hearts of listeners.  What is distinctively wonderful about him is every sound he produces is brought to life.

Blechacz is conscious of the fact that he is a pianist born in the country of Chopin.
“I often listen to the recordings by Raul Koczalski, a second-generation pupil of Chopin. I have a lot to learn from them. Of course style and trend of playing may change as we go forward in time. However I think that there is an invariable tradition regardless of such changes that I would like to maintain”.
“Another thing that I can count on is the letters written by Chopin and writings by those close to him. Reading such a literature, I can understand how Chopin played and feel closer to him”.
“It is written that Chopin’s playing was very delicate and sensitive full of nuances. Chopin played the Concerto in F minor so smoothly as if he was walking in heaven”.

During the interview, I wanted to know his personality more and asked how he spends spare time.  He answered that he began studying philosophy at Copernicus University in Toruń and reads books by Roman Ingarden, a Polish philosopher, and Husserl, his teacher and Phenomenologist.  He also said that he loves driving and when his sister is with him, enjoys listening to her favorite pop music onboard.  I was able to catch a glimpse of another aspect of Blechacz, a gentle young man caring about his sister.

What differentiates Chopin played by Blechacz from those by other Polish pianists is that the air of desperation by a musician of the country that was divided and reigned by other countries in history is relatively low.  Instead his music gives you spirit of trust and harmony.  I guess it is not unrelated to the fact he grew in the post-perestroika period.  It is probably one of the reasons why his interpretation, albeit orthodox, impresses listeners with freshness and inspirations.  While paying respect to the Polish traditional way of playing Chopin music, he brings out a new type of Chopin’ s icon.  What a godsend!  We are grateful to be able to listen to Blechacz’s interpretation in this historic bicentennial year of Chopin’s birth.


************************************************
Rafał Blechacz held a recital in Yokohama Minato-Mirai Hall on October 23, his final concert in Japan in 2010.
The hall was packed with those who love Blechacz’s music.  The audience was deeply impressed by the entire program, especially by the beautiful pianissimos and every detail he magnificently expressed.

A friend of mine from university (with expertise of producing artists of modern arts) was impressed by the depths of his interpretation and a wide variety of tones and colors.  Sometimes she felt hearing organ.  Exquisite touch and meticulous expression.  Pianissimos are just amazing.  She was also fascinated by his broad-mindedness and said "Thank you for bringing me here to see an angel".

Sister of my colleague was surprised, "I cannot believe that he plays it all alone!"

As a reply to the unending warm applause, he gave the audience three encores: Heroic Polonaise, Nocturne (posthumous) and….the Prelude op.28-7 in A major!
A beautiful farewell to the Japanese audience.

Next time Rafał Blechacz comes to Japan will be in February 2013.

Oct 22, 2010

Chopin was with Rafał in Fukuoka, October 21, 2010

Japanese

Rafał Blechacz gave a recital @Acros Fukuoka Symphony Hall on October 21. The hall’s acoustics accepted and conveyed Blechacz’s sound warmly and effectively, carrying all details and nuances to the ears of the public.

He looked relaxed, feeling at home and taking all freedom in phrasing and speaking Chopin’s language.

I was absorbed by his inspirational interpretations and became full of emotions, a mysterious experience.  It was as if Chopin was there on the stage behind Rafał, enjoying his interpretations, remembering Poland, feeling happiness.  Exactly five years ago, today, Rafał Blechacz was selected as the winner of the 2005 Chopin Competition.


“The way he produces each sound is like offering a prayer,” said my former boss (when I was a government official), now resident of Fukuoka.  He wanted to attend Blechacz’s concert last year (when Blechacz played Beethoven’s concerto No. 4) but couldn’t make it because all tickets were sold out, so he bought Blechacz’s CDs instead.  This year I invited him but he already bought the ticket and brought with him his colleague, too. The colleague, a young piano music lover, was amazed.  “How is it possible to produce such tremendous, a wide variety of sounds from such a slender body?”

The entire audience was getting concentrated as the program proceeded. When Blechacz completed Polonaises op.26, silence prevailed into the hall and I anticipated Blechacz will go straight to Mazurkas, but someone began clapping hands and he stood up to bow cordially.  The ending of Ballad No. 2 was quiet, suggestive. (And fortunately, there was no disturbance by cell phone ring like Opera City Hall!)

All the three encores (Heroic Polonaise, posthumous Nocturne and Mazurka op50-2) were a blessing, a time of supreme bliss, given by the extraordinary pianist to the public in Fukuoka.  I was very fortunate to be able to be a part of the public. Actually, that Heroic Polonaise was the best in my life.  My Heartfelt gratitude to our gifted pianist!



(Recital program)
Ballad No.1 in G minor, op.23
Waltz op.34
Scherzo No.1 in B minor, op.20
Polonaises op.26
Mazurkas op.41
Ballad No.2 in F major, op.38


******************************

Before the concert @Acros Fukuoka

Before the concert I was told by the organizer that no autographic session was planned.  But after the concert, people who wanted to greet with the artist lined towards the artist room.  The queue was so long and it became an autographic session.  According to a blog written by a resident of Fukuoka, it was the longest queue in her experience at Acros Fukuoka.

Oct 20, 2010

Blechacz @Yokohama Philia Hall, Oct.11 (Video--Spanish version)

Japanese

Video produced by AFP on Blechacz's recital @Yokohama Philia Hall, Oct.11, translated into Spanish)
I saw this version posted on a website of Peru.  I also saw Portuguese version in Brasil.

This is German version. (Youtube)

The Spanish video is already invalid (Jan. 2013)

(In English- - Fragments related to Blechacz.)

Rafal Blechacz was only 20 years old when he won the Chopin Competition in 2005.  He comes from a small remote village in the north of Poland. His virtuosity and his shady complicity with the music of Chopin were deeply touching when he played..  Since then his life has been radically developing.

“After winning the competition, I started my international career.  I had always dreamed of playing all over the world, but after winning the competition, I realized the dream”, he confessed emotionally.

Tonight he is in Yokohama, Japan.  Next months, he’ll be playing in Paris, London, Berlin, Vienna.  His program, of course, includes Chopin, the composer who changed his life.  Wherever he is, he says that by playing Chopin's music, he feels at home.

Webradio broadcast of Rafał Blechacz's performance in Warsaw, Feb.22, 2010

Japanese

Rafał Blechacz's playing Chopin's Concerto in F minor will be broadcast by LRT Klasika,
on October 20
@16:08-17:30  (EEST )
   22:08-23:30 (Japan)

LRT Klasika program page

Listen to LRT Klasika from here



Interview by professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń

From Chopin 2010 website, discussion with professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, Juror in the 16th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw,  professor of the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz where she was the tutor of Rafał Blechacz; at present she is the tutor of Paweł Wakarecy.

Oct 19, 2010

People who were fascinated by Blechacz @Tokyo Opera City on Oct. 19

Rafał Blechacz gave his 7th concert in the current Japan tour @Tokyo Opera City concert hall.
This hall carries Rafał Blechacz's sound very well.
The first bravo was heard just after the first piece (Ballad No.1).
Audience had a good sense of concentration so did the performer.
He gave three encores: Mazurka op50-2, Heroic Polonaise and Nocturne (posthumous).

I was with my colleague.  For the first time, I knew that she wanted to be a pianist when she was  young. She bought Blechacz's CD Preludia for her boy friend.  She said that Blechacz's sound was more powerful and masculine than what she knew.  I'm of the same view.  Friends of my husband were also attending.

People lined for Blechacz's sign after the recital.
When taking this photo on the second lobby floor of the hall, I was removed by a staff of the hall.
So I went down to the ground floor, and was scolded by another staff.  Photo taking is prohibited. (No way of taking a photo of the artist.)



It took about an hour for the artist to give his sign to all these people.

Oct 17, 2010

Beautiful concert in Osaka - Blechacz Oct.17

Japanese

I couldn't make it to the recital in Osaka, but I've already seen several blogs and twitters postings a few hours after the recital that Blechacz's recital in Osaka was very successful.  A woman who loves playing piano writes in her blog, "I wanted to see his hands and got a ticket at the sixth from the front, but his sound was so beautiful that I closed my eyes to appreciate it fully".
He played the three encores again.  In the same manner as the other venues, Heroic made the public deeply excited, evoking standing ovations.  After the concert, tremendous number of people lined for his sign.

Oct 16, 2010

His piano is a prayer - -Rafałl Blechacz inteviewed by the Asahi Shinbun

Japanese

Rafałl Blechacz gave an interview to the Asahi Shinbun, the 2nd largest daily newspaper in Japan (circulation is about 8 million). The interview appeared on Osaka edition of the paper on Oct.8.

*************************************

Interviewer: Mr. Manabu Hoshino
Photographer: Ms. Nanako Ito

Rafałl Blechacz, the victor of the previous Chopin Competition, gave the first concert here on Oct.3, when the latest edition of the Competition, the very important event that takes place only once in five years, got started in his country.  His playing is supple and delicate, characterized by the distinctive nuances and variations of timbres.  It is as if praying rather than playing.
“I would like to express what Chopin left in his compositions with my highest esteem for him”.
He will give another recital at The Symphony Hall in Osaka on Oct.17, the memorial day of Chopin.

His piano is a prayer
Rafał Blechacz now in Japan

“The Competition opened many doors for me.  I cannot believe that five years have already passed,” reflects Blechacz on his winning the 2005 Chopin competition…
The first leg of his tour for all Chopin program was in Osaka on Oct. 3.  His performance is very far from a bluff or exaggerated intonation.  He polishes each sound conscientiously putting life into lingering tones and pauses.  His intimate, gently expressing sound is thus created.

“I want to be always natural.  I want to be loyal to Chopin’s intentions”, says the 25 years old of slender build and calm disposition.
“When reading his letters, I can understand that Chopin brought out the best in delicate, elegant timbres.  He liked playing in salons and therefore, his music embraces  elements of chamber music”.

“Faith is the most important for me”. The pious catholic comes to church finding out time out of the busy schedule between concerts during the Japan tour..
“If my playing is heard as a prayer, it’s partly because of my faith.  Another element that shouldn’t be forgot is the respect I have for greatness.  The great existence of Chopin, his compositions and music per se”.

He loves driving and often listens to the music while driving car.  He doesn’t hesitate driving his favorite Toyota to go to France to give a recital, all the way from his home in the country in Poland.

It will be for the first time for him to play a recital on the memorial day of Chopin.
“I feel deeply honored to be able to play Chopin on the special day in a country whose people love Chopin music.”

The recital will be at 3:00 on Oct. 17.  Beginning with Ballad No.1, followed by Waltzes, Polonaises and Mazurkas and concluding by Ballad No.2.

(I got this article from my friend at Blechacz's recital in Kawaguchi, who obtained it from her friend in Osaka. With appreciation to them!)

*********************************
On October 15,Rafałl Blechacz gave a recital at Lilia Hall in Kawaguchi, part of Tokyo Metropolitan area. To respond to unending applause, he gave three encores.


He played wonderfully.  Sometimes, however, squeaky noise produced by the stool of pianist sounded unnerving for me. It didn't undermine the quality of his performance and I fully enjoyed it.  The pianist, as always, remained composed,  concentrated, energized for some pieces.  But the administrator of the theater must know how to maintain the stool and fix it if it's squealing when the world renowned pianist is seated!!

It reminded me of a fragment of the interview that Blechacz gave in Warsaw in Feb. this year. (Interview with Anna Skulska, Feb. 21, 2010,  You can hear Blechacz’s voice from this site.)

(quote)
"In the prestigious halls such as Tonhalle, Concertgebouw, Herkulessaal you can choose from two or three pianos. They are usually Steinways. You can encounter different kinds of quality, mechanism. I understand a pianist who goes around with his piano tuner or instrument. In the prestigious halls the level of pianos is very high and piano turners too.

In smaller halls it is not so favorable. For example small theaters in Italy have only one piano. The piano turner can make it very well or you can order another instrument from a bigger town nearby. But…sometimes it could be very good when you should play with an inferior piano, then you can appreciate it better and fly like a bird when you play it better. Sometimes playing on the lighter or heavier mechanism hardens and strengthens you. Artist must be up to a task in every situation."
(unquote)


Oct 14, 2010

NHK will air a program about Rafał Blechacz - - Oct. 31

Japanese

NHK, Japanese public broadcaster, recorded performance by  Rafał Blechacz on Oct. 13.
NHK explained that the date of air is October 30 or 31.
Hiroko Nakamura and another pianist will be presented as well as Blechacz in a program about piano music, according to the source close to the matter.

Maybe the program is "Minna-no-Chopin: Chopin for all the people", special program for Chopin year, on October 31 18:45--22:45, by NHK BS high vision, featuring famous people, not limited to pianist or musicians.  The news release by NHK as of Sept. 15 says that in this program, several winners of Chopin Competition, including Blechacz, will be presented; they will talk about Chopin and play especially for the program.

This is twitter by NHK's producer who was present at recording by Blechacz, Hiroko Nakamura and Bunin for the program on Oct.13. (Japanese)

As of Oct.24, the website of this program "Minna-no Chopin" describes the program as "featuring performances by winners of Chopin Competition, such as Bunin and Dang Thai Son", not mentioning about Blechacz.  I sent inquiry e-mail to NHK to make sure if Blechacz will be presented in this program.  When I get the answer from NHK, I'll post it here.

On Oct.25, I received the answer from HNK and made sure that Blechacz will be presented in this program.  His playing Heroic Polonaise is planned.  As for the exact time of his appearance, please look at the website of this program a few days before October 31.
website of this program

**Please be reminded that the planned performance is subject to a sudden cancellation/change without prior notice.

Oct 13, 2010

I loved the interpretation. It was Rafał Blechacz, Argerich said.

Japanese

From Polish culture as of October 13,
Marta Argerich talks to Alek Laskowski

Marta Argerich: Do you know that this is La Maestra of the Competition winner from the previous? [she nods to Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń]

Aleksander Laskowski: Of course. What do you think about Rafał Blechacz?

I like him a lot, although I have listened to him on YouTube only. It is a very honest, extraordinary and sensitive artist. I once listened to Chopin's Preludes on the radio. I didn’t know who was playing but I loved the interpretation. It was Rafał Blechacz.

Rafał Blechacz interview in Osaka, October 3, 2010

Japanese

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

Original interview (Japanese)

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

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

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

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

How is the Chopin Competition for Poles?

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

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

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

--Describe how you live in your country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Oct 12, 2010

Rafał Blechacz's recital/interview by AFP (Video) (French)

Japanese

Rafał Blechacz's recital @Yokohama Philia Hall on October 11 was covered by (AFP) French media.

You can watch the video of Blechacz's mini-interview and clips from his recital.
Blechacz's performance starts after 50 seconds.



(Information from japan_arts twitter)

Oct 11, 2010

He makes the piano happy, too- Rafał Blechacz recital in Yokohama

Japanese


“When Rafał is at piano, he infuses life and energy into the instrument.  The piano looks like living things and takes pleasure in delivering beautiful music with him (Comment by a friend of mine coming from US to see Rafał Blechacz’s recital.)

Rafał Blechacz gave a matinee recital @Yokohama Philia Hall on Oct. 11, National holiday of Japan.  Unlike other venues of the tour, it accommodates only 500 and atmosphere was quite intimate although majority of the audience are Philia Hall members (my estimate).   Seated at the rear of the room, I was able to hear every sound clearer than at a larger hall, with little undesirable diffuse reflection of sounds although the acoustics were a little sticky.. The house was full and well-mannered public were quiet (no coughing) but wholeheartedly inspired by coming close to Rafał’s heartfelt feeling of Chopin music.  To never-ending enthusiastic applause, he returned comfortably high-speed Heroic Polonaise, and then soul-thrilling Nocturne (posthumous) and lively, multi-layered Mazurka op.50-2.  We felt really grateful to him for such generous offerings.

(Recital program)
Ballad No.1 in G minor, op.23
Waltz op.34
Scherzo No.1 in B minor, op.20
Polonaises op.26
Mazurkas op.41
Ballad No.2 in F major, op.38





“The inner stability was jeopardized when he began playing Ballad No.2 and collapsed by Heroic Polonaise (in other words, it made me cry).  The segment of my heart responsible for sensitivity which used to be protected against a direct attack was reset afresh.” (Comment by an experienced conference interpreter, often working for IT related conference.)


"Wonderful!! I have never been absorbed in Heroic Polonaise so deeply as today, although I've heard this piece many times."  (Comment by another conference interpreter; she plays piano, including this piece.)


**My deepest appreciation to my colleagues who took time for concerts today and for other venues out of the busiest months of the year.


***************************
During the intermission, I was talked to by an unknown reader of this website and asked how I find news to be put on the blog.  I remember writing of it before, but it is quite simple; enter "blechacz" in google.com search, narrowing the scope by "past 24 hours".  That's it.  And very often I get a support from fans in Poland, Holland and US.  They find news from other source or using their network.  Some help me with translation and I'm very much appreciative of them.  For example, when Rafał Blechacz gave a special recital in Siena in commemoration of getting the International Award of Chigiana Academy, the review of the recital was found by an American who did google search by entering "blechacz, siena, corriere" by his intuition.


Why do I maintain this website?  I would like Rafał Blechacz to keep on playing piano and giving concerts for long years.  So I do what I can to expand listeners of his music and increase those who are willing to pay by purchasing his CDs and concert tickets.  I'll do what little I can to help.

Oct 9, 2010

Rafał Blechacz’s interview with the biggest newspaper in Japan / recital in Nagoya

Japanese

Interview Rafał Blechacz gave to the Yomiuri, the national newspaper of the largest circulation in Japan and in the world (recognized by the Guinness Book) (Circulation: ten million).
October 5.
Interviewed by Ichiro Washimi

“The first priority to select a piece to be played in a concert is that I love this piece very much”.

It should be the biggest dream for Poles to win the competition crowned by the name of Fryderyk Chopin, the composer from Poland.  His compatriot realized the dream for the first time since 1975 when Krystian Zimerman won the competition.

“Of course Chopin is a special existence for me.  But I love Bach as well”.
Rafał Blechacz wanted to be an organist in his early days.  All the members of the Blechacz family are devout catholic.
“As my family and I went to church every week, I felt the organ very close to me.  I was fascinated by the solemnity when the sound of organ reverberated across the room during the mass”.

His goal changed when he encountered with piano at age of five or six.
“Organ’s timbre is predetermined.  But with piano you have to create your timbre.  I felt that this is an instrument which I can express myself with”.

“I want to deliver beautiful music.  The beauty contained in each music work tells me that I should deliver it to others.  What is important is to simply express it following my intuition**”.

This approach is taken to play pieces by Chopin and Bach, his favorite composers and for piano pieces by Mozart and Haydn as well.  The unassuming way of playing, quietly appealing to your heart is his most distinctive charm.

It seems that the piano competition where music performance is numerically graded is at the opposite extreme from his honest way of playing.

“However, unlike sports, music is not visible.  Therefore, grading at a competition is a necessary evil if you like.  The Chopin Competition discovered Maurizio Pollini and other highest quality pianists.  It functions as a way to select excellent pianists, doesn’t it?”

This year, his country experienced tragedies such as the presidential plane crash and floods.  The Poles were united with sadness.  But now, during the period of the Chopin Competition, “Poles can be united with joy”. 

While missing the festive event of his home country far away from here, Rafał Blechacz continues to go forth on the path of dream that he achieved by himself.

(**Note: The original writing by this journalist is  "I must follow my primitive instincts" but I believe that the word Blechacz usually uses in this context is intuition instead of instincts.)

(Below Blechacz's interview is a review of concert by Zimerman and Hagen Quartett @Suntory Hall on Sept. 28)


Another interview that Blechacz gave just after the special concert @Osaka The Symphony Hall can be read on The Symphony Hall's website. (Japanese)

I would like to put it by English when I find a time to spend.

*********************************
On Oct. 9, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Aichi Prefectural Art Theater Concert Hall.
Comment by a friend of mine who attended the recital.

“I was deeply impressed.  Each jewelry sound rendered by Rafał reverberated, reaching every corner of that concert hall.  I was especially fascinated by two Polonaises (No. 1 and 2) and stunned to know how wonderful music they are.  I cannot believe that the music was created by 25 years old.  He has perfected the music to this extent and I’m wondering how he will be like as he gets older.  His Ballad No.2 was perspective with no sense of rush.  Really great performance that only he could have done!
He gave three encores: Heroic Polonaise (!), posthumous Nocturne and Mazurka op.50-2”.

(↑"Heroic"!?  How generous he is!!)

"After the recital there was a long line of music fans and he was busy over an hour with signing."

(Deepest thanks to Ms. Wiewiórka for the news about these interviews and comment & Roman Frackowski for the news)


Blechacz's Nocturne in C sharp minor by Chopin by Performance Today (audio)

Japanese

Performance Today (host: Fred Child) made available Rafał Blechacz's Nocturne in C sharp minor by Chopin (posthumous) on Oct. 8.  It is an encore Blechacz gave in his recital for Schwetzingen Festival, Germany on May 14.

Listen to Performance Today
Go to Hour 2 Listen.
Blechacz's performance starts at 6:50 after Fred Child's introducing him at 6:15.

Beautiful sound from Rokokotheater where Mozart performed three times.

**The audio performance will be available for the next week.

For those who went to Blechacz's recital and deeply moved by the beautiful encore, it is the good opportunity to revive that impressive moment♪


Chopin 2010 website introduces Blechacz's Japan tour on its Oct. 5 posting.
JAPANESE TOURNÉE OF RAFAŁ BLECHACZ

"...the most important performance will take place on the 6th of October in Tokio. During special concert in the Suntory Hall, together with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Naoto Otomo,..."

Oct 7, 2010

Rafał Blechacz's interview by Atsushi Oyamada, posted on TicketPIA website

Japanese


An interview that Rafał Blechacz gave on Sept. 30.
Interviewer: Atsushi Oyamada

Original interview (Japanese)
It is a fact that he won the 2005 Chopin Competition and swept other prizes of Polonaises and Mazurkas.  But Rafał Blechacz, 25, didn’t look like obsessed by the past feat although those around him are concerned about it.

“Of course it was a turning point in my life.  After the competition, I’ve been given a lot of opportunities to play before big audiences and move around by car and flight, dragging suitcases.  Now I need to decide a plan of three years ahead, which makes me think of life in a longer time span”, says Blechacz.  

But I had an impression that he has already departed from the seat for the prestigious competition’s winner to take a stride on the path of questing for his own music.  During the latest Japan tour in the year of Chopin’s bicentennial, he offers a program of pieces only by Chopin, including those that he’s played in Europe since earlier this year.

Mazurkas and Polonaise – not exclusive to Poles

--For Japan tour, you chose Polonaises, Mazurkas, Ballads and concerto in F minor to play.  You are conscious of Polishness.  Any specific purpose?

I didn’t mean to emphasize Polishness particularly but they represent important aspect of Chopin’s music.  As a Pole I would like Japanese audience to hear rhythms and melodies of those dances peculiar to Poland.  I want to make appealing of them not only to Japan but to other Europe.  In addition, I was awarded with prestigious prizes of Polonaises and Mazurkas in Chopin competition, so I would like you to listen to my current interpretations five years later.  Going forward, I want to put all the Mazurkas in my repertoire.

--We tend to believe that you play Polonaises and Mazurkas wonderfully because you are Pole; you should have something that a person of other ethnicity doesn’t understand.  Any response?

I must answer the question carefully.  I’ve never believed that I can play them very well or acquire the ideal style because I’m Pole.  It could be a little bit difficult for non-Polish but in Chopin Competition you can hear Asian contestants including Japanese play Mazurkas and Polonaises excellently.  There was a time that a Chinese pianist won Mazurka award. (Note: Fou Ts'ong in 1955).
Even Polish contestants cannot get that award easily, so I think that it is difficult to grasp that characteristic atmosphere.  If, for example, you are told that you cannot express well La soirée dans Grenade by Debussy because you are not Spanish, you feel sad, don't you?  What is important for Chopin’s music is musicality of individual pianists rather than Polish elements or rhythms, in my view.

I’m always conscious of how Chopin played.

--There are a wide variety of aspects to Chopin’s music.  What aspect is most important for you, Mr. Blechacz?

Everything – from a sense of beauty that I can read when looking at a score, to feelings and emotions included there, a kind of sound that Chopin could have had in his heart.  Among other things what is important for me is to “look for a sound”, which requires to always keep sharp.  In order for me to express a certain feeling written in a score, what kind of sound is the most appropriate?  It is a significant issue.  There are other aspects that I shouldn’t miss, for example, how to deal with the tempo rubato which Chopin warned that it shouldn’t be used too much and frequently.

--Chopin was a pianist, too, the same profession as you, Mr. Blechacz.  I guess that there are many occasions that you have to be conscious of him as such.

Reading the letters that Chopin left, his instructions to his students and reviews of how others evaluated Chopin’s playing is very informative.  For example, there is a letter which reads, “Chopin’s playing is as if played by an angel”.  By just reading this fragment, I can sense that a delicate expression was very important for Chopin.  Undoubtedly, I always try to find out “how Chopin would play this part”.  I cannot escape from it.  However there are differences between the time when Chopin lived and today in terms of instruments, concert halls and audiences.  How to translate what Chopin wrote to the context of today’s environment is another challenge for me.  If I can see Chopin now?  I would say “why did you write such difficult pieces?”  No, no, I wouldn’t.  Rather, I would say, “Thank you Chopin for leaving all wonderful music”.  If I add one more thing, let me say “I wanted you to compose more pieces.

--Which edition of scores do you use?

Paderewski that I get used to since my childhood.  When I was a child, the Ekier edition (National edition) didn’t publish all the pieces.  Also, I used Paderewski edition in preparation for the Chopin competition, I couldn’t afford to try difference edition overnight.

I want to play a recital in Hamamatsu




--I was informed that you have a ceiling of the number of concerts that you give in a year.

Yes, approximately up to 40 a year.  In the following year of the Chopin Competition, I gave a lot of concerts, which made me think about my optimal limit.  Therefore, I began putting the ceiling- 40 time a year-in the next year.  I could play more number of concerts but the time for other activities is important for me.  For example, I want to expand new repertoire, think of next planning for recordings.  In addition, I began study philosophy two years ago.  I have many things that I’m interested in other than music.

--If your limit is 40 concerts a year, Japan occupies your time significantly.

Because I’ve come all the way to Japan, I would like as many people as possible to listen to my music.  Here I have played in different concert halls and found that all have good acoustics and the audience is concentrated while I’m playing.  It’s wonderful for a pianist.  One thing weighs on my mind.  It’s about Hamamatsu.  It is the venue that I went to for the competition in 2003.  When I came to Japan for the first time, I went straight from Narita to Hamamatsu.  Many things about that city remain deep in my mind.  I have a wish to give a full-fledged recital in Hamamatsu and let citizens of Hamamatsu enjoy my music.  Ah, it reminded me of a good Polish restaurant nearby in Nagoya.  I was told that that restaurant was closed.  Don’t you know if Tokyo has a Polish restaurant? (smiling)

--And your future plans?

I would like to keep playing pieces by J.S. Bach and Debussy.  I played their music during my Japan tour three years ago.  And pieces by Szymanowski as well.  I’ve already decided the pieces that I will record for my next CD…May I reveal it? (making sure with a person in charge from Universal Classics sitting with him)…I’m planning to record for the next CD “Pour le Piano”, “Estampes” and “L'Isle joyeuse” by Debussy and Szymanowski’s piano sonata.  I hope you’ll enjoy my different aspect.



Oct 6, 2010

Exquisite concerto with Tokyo Symphony Orchestra - Blechacz @Suntory Hall


Japanese

“He already possesses a master’s presence”, said my husband at Suntory Hall during the intermission of Rafał Blechacz’s special concert. The first half of the program was Polonaises op.26, Mazurkas op.41 and Ballad op.23.  “His sound was close to that of Rubinstein.”

Piano concerto in F minor after the intermission played with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra directed by Naoto Otomo was a masterpiece. The remarkable orchestra skillfully followed any change of tempo with which Rafał Blechacz let his characteristic beautiful notes cascading down.  The perfect ensemble between the soloist and the orchestra was further upgraded by the excellent acoustics of Suntory Hall.  Those beautiful pianos/pianissimos rendered by Blechacz are unforgettable.
Exquisite concert.

There was no ending to enthusiastic applause with bravos.  Rafał Blechacz returned with three encores: cheerfully played Chopin’s waltz op.34-3, profound sound of Mazurka op. 50-2 and deeply impressing posthumous Nocturne.  And no ending to a long queue at the post-concert autographic session.


"The orchestra was really great.  With the same orchestra and the same conductor, Rafał played in Hamamatsu, in 2003!" (Krzysztof Blechacz, father of the pianist).

"Bravo! What a transparent sound!  Very refreshing concerto." (gomimi, conference interpreter).


"Beautiful.... I was almost crying..." (Miki, designer of this website)

"I am very happy that Rafał succeeds in Japan.  Congratulations!
I listen to the 16th Chopin Competition and nobody plays like Rafał." (Dana, Poland)

"Rafał has explored music more extensively and deepened interpretations since his performance in NY. " (Krystian Zimerman, from japan/arts twitter).

(Note: It seems that Zimerman refers to Blechacz's playing the same concerto with NY Phil in October, 2008 at Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center, NY.  Blechacz said in an interview last year that he met with Zimerman during this occasion in NY.)

**From twitter by japan_arts,
A picture with Krystian Zimerman who came to hear Blechacz's concert at Suntory Hall.

Oct 5, 2010

Recent Rafał Blechacz from twitter

With Maestro Otomo, Osaka, October 2
Japanese

Rafał Blechacz completed rehearsal with The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and Naoto Otomo, the conductor for the special concert at Suntory Hall tomorrow, according to twitter posting by japan_arts.
"japan_arts" follows activities by Blechacz during his stay in Japan.

For example, on its Oct. 2 posting,
"Otomo and Blechacz met for the first time since 7 years ago when they performed together Chopin's concerto No. 1 in the final stage of Hamamatsu International Piano Competition.  Blechacz was just 18 years old.  Otomo lovingly said, "Oh, it has been seven years..." and delighted to see how Blechacz has been building up his career as a concert pianist."



Maestro Naoto Otomo
On Sept. 30, Atsushi Oyamada, a music writer interviewed Blechacz and wrote:
"I had an opportunity to interview Rafał Blechacz.  What a nice guy!  A man of integrity.  He answered all the questions sincerely.  If a musical performance reflects on performer's personality, his is supple and honest.  Very much impressed!"


This is a link to photo of Blechacz's magical "hands".


**JapanArts official website posts Otomo's message in more detail with a photo of the rehearsal.

"I remember that his sound was beautiful and sensitive when we worked together in Hamamatsu seven years ago.  I’m impressed that he has been developing an outstanding career since then.  I feel that his extremely delicate sense of tempo characterizes his musical personality.  When playing with the orchestra he maintained a good intension.  Going over, he will play for various concerts of different occasions and I’m sure that he will keep on success".



Oct 3, 2010

Rafał Blechacz got off a comfortable start of 2010 Japan tour

Japanese

Rafał Blechacz gave a special recital at Osaka The Symphony Hall on Sunday, Oct. 3. The matinee saw a lot of well-wishing fans of Rafał coming to the biggest hall in Osaka who in spite of drizzling came to join the commemorable concert.

The strong, “appassionato” beginning of Polonaise op.26-1, C sharp minor instantly caught audience’s heart.   We were brought to Chopin’s era and deeply absorbed. As he ended the forth Mazurka (op.41), a silence reigned the hall and nobody dared to applaud to break the precious moment.  He then began the unison of Ballad No.1. Everyone was glued to the powerful, magnificent and noble evolution.

The atmosphere transformed after the intermission when he played the F minor concerto by Chopin (Century Orchestra Osaka, conductor: Naoto Otomo).  It was Rafał Blechacz’s concerto. Brilliant, youthful, dreamy but contemplating. All the musicians played a supportive role and the soloist reigned the music: he looked really energized. Listeners’ hearts were full.

Nobody left the hall after he completed the concerto and kept offering hearfelt applause while he offered two encores: very touching Nocturne C sharp minor and the further refined rendition of Mazurka op.50-2.  It was Blechacz's audience.

He will give another special concert on Oct. 6 at Suntory Hall in Tokyo and be back to Osaka on Oct. 17.

Oct 1, 2010

Rafał Blechacz  in practice in Tokyo

Japanese

From twitter (by japan_arts) on Sept. 30,
Rafał Blechacz during practice.



"I feel very happy to be here in Japan in the bicentennial year of Chopin's birth.  I thought it over the recital program and decided to incorporate the Mazurkas and Polonaises, Polish folk music, which is important for me as a Pole".  (Rafał Blechacz)

**The website of JapanArts provides Blechacz's message in more detail (Japanese) with another photo.
See ピアニストたちの素顔 (True faces of pianists).

He was interviewed by French media, too.