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Nov 30, 2010

Rafał Blechacz at @Berliner Philharmonie

From website of Poland Government.
Rafał Blechacz will give a recital with Chopin program at Chamber Music Hall, Berliner Philharmonie, November 30.

“…the results confirm Blechacz as one of the most finely honed pianists of his generation.. . . The playing itself is full of flair and charm . . . his playing sparkles with wit and character. With brisk tempos he conveys both serious intent and huge enjoyment, giving the music shape and driving momentum . . . for the moment this is a young man's view of a young man's music. Do hear him.”
(BBC Music Magazine, London, December 2008)

Nov 27, 2010

Interview Rafał Blechacz gave in Tokyo, Oct. 2010

Rafał Blechacz gave an interview to Takaakira Aosawa on October 7 in Tokyo.  It was published by Ongaku-no-tomo December 2010 edition as a special interview.

"I would like to strike a balance between my daily life and concert activities and keep the situation in which I can always find a joy of performing before the public".


Feb. 2009
Looking back the Chopin recital:
“Let’s celebrate the joy of enjoying Chopin’s music in the 2010 Chopin Year”, said Rafał Blechacz at the end of our reunion.  As Chopin’s Memorial Day approaching, on October 6, he held a commemorative concert, offering Polonaise op.26, Mazurka op.41, Ballad No.1 in recital format first, followed by the Concerto in F minor with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under Naoto Otomo in the second half.

“I wanted to have a concert in relation to Chopin’s Concertos that I recorded last year.  As for the solo recital, I wanted to offer Polish taste by playing Polonaises and Mazurkas”, said Blechacz the following day of the concert.  He ordered sparkling water without ice, which I thought is indeed like his interpretation.  The transparent sound naturally arouses interest, never becoming chilling.

Last night, he played with a thoughtful and refined style.  While maintaining construction in detail, he let us see the noble and virtuous character.  He describes the shape in an effective and delicate manner with appropriate control.  His piano let me imagine that it is communicating with Chopin’s performance.

“When I read letters of Chopin and his disciples, it’s written that Chopin’s performance was very sophisticated, delicate and filled with emotion. It certainly contains sublime and noble things.  There is 200 years’ insurmountable distance between Chopin and myself, but if there is something common, it is about sensitivity of how to extract feelings and emotions delicately.  In Chopin’s music, even in a place where forte is required, it shouldn’t be rough, banging strongly but it should be the sound that is affluent, extending well.  It always contains the emotion that is somehow satisfied.”

“Last night the orchestra and conductor performed very good pianissimo.  So I was able to keep my own dynamics without increasing the volume range and be focused on creating nuances,” the pianist extended appreciation.  Talking of Chopin’s concerto, I can recall the Concerto in E minor that Blechacz performed with the Russian National Orchestra with quite a different atmosphere under Mikhail Pletnev during 2007 Japan tour.

“Yes, the Pletnev version had the orchestra part modified significantly.  Although the solo piano part was not changed so much, still it was unprecedented and a surprise for me.  I’m the one who was awarded as the winner of the Chopin Competition and I usually try to keep style of music that Chopin intended”, smiled Blechacz.

Five years have passed since the Competition
How does the 25 years old reflect on the past five years since winning the Chopin Competition?
“Time flied for the past five years.  But now I can look back calmly.  Every year I was busy with things like concerts, recordings and interviews (smiling).  Of importance was that I had a lot of experiences of performing on stage and thus able to grow accordingly.  This is my fourth tour in Japan.  It’s grateful that I’m given opportunities to play in prestigious concert halls and festivals”.

It was a great source of joy for him to be able to join the Chopin Competition.  He always had a portrait of Chopin drawn by Delacroix on the wall above his piano at home since he was a small child, Blechacz smiled.

“Before the Chopin Competition, I had entered several piano competitions such as Hamamtsu.  It helped me understand how to manage myself. The best way is to practice the entire repertoire until the final stage thoroughly. Therefore, I was able to concentrate on my performance.  I didn’t hear other contestants or media reports. Always focused on myself and when I went onto the stage, I saw many people from different countries seated in the hall and it was a typical, excellent atmosphere of a concert rather than the competition.”

He has long years to go from now on.  How does he want to perform music?

“What is most important in my life is to continue concert performances, continue recordings with thought-out repertoire.  I would like to always find out joy in playing before the public, sharing the beauty of music with them.  I want to keep a good balance between daily life and concert performances,  not to give too much weight to either side only.  I would like to maintain the situation in which I can feel happiness in playing on the stage before the public.”
(End of the interview)

Takaakira Aosawa interviewed Rafał Blechacz a couple of times.  You can read these interviews on this blog.

Why do you play music? (2006)
Being natural is the key (2009)
Review on Beethoven Concerto No.4 (2009)

Aosawa was born in 1970.  Grown up in Kamakura.  Graduated from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (English Dept.).  Began writing about music when he was secondary school student.
(I love his beautiful writing; but I must say that it's impossible to translate nuances of his Japanese into foreign language. I studied at the same university, Spanish Dept.)


This interview and the review by Tadao Aosawa, are prioritized (with many photos, full-color, four pages) in the December issue, appearing in earlier pages just after the report of 16th Chopin Competition (four pages).


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Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com


Nov 26, 2010

German record critics award to be presented to Blechacz on December 13

Japanese

Klassiakzente (Germany) and Radio4 (the Netherlands) websites report that German Annual Prize of the Record Critics 2010 goes to Rafał Blechacz and will be given to him on December 13.
Announcement by Klassikakzente on November 25.
Radio4 of the Netherlands

(Quote from Klassikakzente)
Jahrespreis der Schallplattenkritik (Annual prize of the record critics) goes to Rafał Blechacz


The coveted "Jahrespreis der Schallplattenkritik (Annual Prize of the German Record Critics)" 2010 goes to pianist Rafał Blechacz for his outstanding recording of piano concertos by Frédéric Chopin. And the prize was not awarded to the artist in Hamburg as was originally announced, but will be presented on December 13 in Stuttgart during his concert in Beethoven Hall.


Reason of the award to Rafał Blechacz:
"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.
(Unquote)


Review of Rafał Blechacz's recitals @Tokyo Opera City, and @Acros Fukuoka Symphony Hall

A review of Blechacz’s recital at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall on October 19, written by Ms. Yo Morioka for “Monthly Chopin” December 2010.

He deepens musicality as the Chopin player of the new century
When the 16th Chopin International Piano Competition was held we were pleased to have Rafał Blechacz, the winner in 2005, touring here with all Chopin program.

At Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, he appeared breezily on the stage to play first Ballad No.1.  The freshness, performance with feeling, captivated the audience at once.  Then he played three Waltzes op.34 and Scherzo No.1.  The supple sense of rhythm, subtle delineation of emotions, the passion that he was unleashing…I was prompted to see Frederic Chopin himself superimposed on the posture of the Polish pianist.

After the intermission were two Polonaises op.26, four Mazurkas op.41 and Ballad No.2.  While transmitting heartbeats of his national, he single-mindedly gathered threads of music, producing crystal-clear, beautiful sound. The highlight of the evening was Polonaise op.53.  He represents the great harmony between the iron vitality and pure and natural musicality. I felt he truly keeps evolving as the Chopin musician of the new generation.

Yo Morioka
Born in 1956.  Graduated from Keio University Law School.  Studied in Beijing. Freelance writer for music magazines.  Wrote books about Fou Ts'ong, electronic organ, etc…

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"It's interesting that Scherzo in B minor has motif of “Sleep, little Jesus, sleep,” 
a traditional carol in Poland.  
Actually, my career in Japan began with this piece.  
I played it in the first stage of 2003 Hamamatsu Piano Competition.”
(Rafał Blechacz, from Newletter of Acros Fukuoka Symphony Hall)
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Another review of the recital in Fukuoka, on October 21, written by Prof. Toshiki Nagano, for Asahi Shinbun (national daily newpaper, western Japan edition on Nov. 9).

Fukuoka, Oct.21© Kazuhisa Shiihara
Recital by Rafal Blechacz, the winner of the 2005 Chopin Competition, at Acros Fukuoka Symphony Hall on October 21.
(All Chopin Program):
Ballad No.1, three Waltzes op.34, Scherzo No.1 (intermission) two Polonaises op.26, four Mazurkas op.41 and Ballad No.2.
(Encores) Polonaise op.53, Nocturne No.20 (posthumous), Mazurka op.50-2

His sound is distinctively unique. The sound core is a little bit hard and clear, solid and brilliant.  Always keeping optimistic tone and always full of nuances.  He leaves nothing to be desired for technique.  Any tempo, however fast, any passage, however difficult, he amazingly deals with it all without a problem. By just hearing him, I feel refreshed and satisfied.

It was best exemplified by his playing Polonaise op.53.  (My guess is that many people came here to listen to this Polonaise op.53 by Blechacz first-hand.)  With a faster tempo, he finished his work through in a breath, brimming with poetic sentiment.  Perfect!

Scherzo was the culmination of this style. Sometimes, however, I wish he put more skillful pause by, for example, stopping the flow just for a moment.  It can be said to other pieces.  In scenes of fast tempo, he goes ahead with rapid-fire pace, unfolding from one motive to another in rapid succession. So sometimes I cannot suppress the feeling that he is hasty.

On the contrary, when listening to slow parts, eg Waltz op.34-2 and the middle part of Scherzo, I was deeply impressed by the variety of sounds and the richness of poetic turns.

Lobby of Acros Fukuoka, Oct.21
Mazurkas best represented his musical personality.  The way he handles rhythms of the dance music is unique and realistic.  I should have heard these pieces many times, but his Mazurkas sounded refreshing, as if wearing new robes.

He is 25 years old. Still young and it is another attractiveness of this recital.

Toshiki Nagano
Born in 1956.  Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts (aesthetics, history of music, history of arts).  Professor of Fukuoka University of Education.  Author of books about music history, music education.

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Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com




Nov 25, 2010

Reviews of Rafał Blechacz's concert @Tokyo Suntory Hall, Tokyo Opera City Hall (2)

"Special report of piano masters--Zimerman, Blechacz, Pollini and Rösel, those popular pianists conquered Japan in autumn" by Minoru Okamoto,
From Ongaku-no-tomo (friend of music), December 2010

(This article covers four pianists who held concerts in October in Japan.  The subtitles are: Krystian Zimerman collaborating with Hagen Quartett, Rafał Blechacz honestly shows  his charm at present, Maurizio Pollini extracts beautiful essence, and Peter Rösel brings out stable texture)

Rafał Blechacz honestly shows his charm at present
Rafał Blechacz, the winner of the 2005 Chopin Competition held nine concerts with all Chopin program in commemoration of the bicentennial year of Chopin’s birth, including two special concerts with the F minor Piano concerto as main theme.

On October 6, one of the special concerts was held at Tokyo Suntory Hall.  Supported right by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under Naoto Otomo, he extracted the charm of Chopin music as it truly is when playing the F minor Concerto. The sincere interpretation reflecting fresh sensitivity of the young composer inspires deeply in my heart.  A master’s large scale performance would be attractive.  But the interpretation by the impressionable 25 years old is compelling from a different perspective.

Tameike-sanno, the nearest Metro station
to Tokyo Suntory Hall, Oct.6

The recital on October 19 began with Ballad No.1.  The proper, orthodox interpretation is refreshing, eliminating all superfluities.  As for the three Waltzes op.34, lyrical beauty is striking.  He retained noble and elegant atmosphere even when developing the world of the storm and stress by Scherzo No.1.

The second half of the recital was composed of two Polonaises op.26, four Mazurkas op.41 and Ballad No.2. As he shows ethnic element in a moderate manner, Blechacz’s play becomes increasingly intense.  The slightly melancholic touch fits well with these works.  The evening became an opportunity for Blechacz to show his charm at present.

Minoru Okamoto
Music critic.  Fluent in foreign languages.  Known for his critical reviewing.  Writes for Ongaku-no-tomo and Nikkei (economic daily).

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Another review of the recital at Tokyo Opera City Hall, written by Ms. Kyoto Michishita for Ongaku-no-tomo

Recital given by Rafał Blechacz, the winner of the Chopin Competition five year ago who was born in 1985.
Program: Ballad No.1, three Waltzes op.34, Scherzo No.1 (intermission) two Polonaises op.26, four Mazurkas op.41 and Ballad No.2.


©K.Sakayori
He doesn’t claim loudly.  The exquisite sound rendered by his hands quietly permeates into listeners’ hearts.  The profound contemplation he puts in details add subtle nuances to each sound.  He excludes excessive rubatos, restrains himself from indulging in sentimentality, always keeping stoic attitude.  The beauty of his pianissimos is supreme.

When he played the Neapolitan chords at the beginning of Ballad No.1, a fog enveloped the sound, impressing the onset of a story.  The whispering Sotto Voce and the contrasting elastic dynamics that is emerging from the depth in the A major, the way to associate motives to each other; all demonstrate his excellent ability to meticulously construct music.

The way he plays grace notes and dotted notes in Waltz is sublime.
In playing Polonaises and Mazurkas, the naïve rhythm is very compelling.
In Ballad No.2, Blechacz’s feelings and emotions were politely represented.

The sophisticated expression of rhythms, fragrance of poet in him.  It was a very refreshing interpretation of Chopin.

Kyoko Michishita
Born in 1969.  Graduated from Toho Gakuen School of Music (musicology). Music writer. Researcher at graduate school of Saitama University (modern music history in Japan and post-modern aesthetics).

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Nov 24, 2010

Review of Rafał Blechacz's concert @Tokyo Suntory Hall, Tokyo Opera City Hall

A review written by Tadao Aosawa for Ongaku-no-tomo (friend of music) Dec. 2010,
covering Rafał Blechacz's two concerts; at Tokyo Suntory Hall on Oct. 6 and Tokyo Opera City Hall on Oct. 19, 2010.

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Five years have passed since the Chopin Competition
He has further deepened the pianism.
By Tadao Aosawa

A masterly performance full of confidence

Feb. 2009
In autumn of 2010 when the 16th Chopin International Piano Competition was being held, Rafał Blechacz, the victor of the previous edition of the Competition, timely came to Japan.  He gave concerts with all Chopin program in Osaka, Tokyo, Nagoya, Yokohama, Kawaguchi and Fukuoka, implying that these local cities in Japan are now gaining importance as concert venues equivalent to renowned music capitals of the world.  I had opportunities to attend two of his concerts.

First, I was at the special concert at Suntory Hall on October 6 featured with Chopin’s piano concerto in F minor with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Naoto Otomo.
The first half of the concert was a solo piano recital, beginning with two Polonaises of op.26. The C sharp minor is immaculate.  He knows how to play Chopin music; he let the peculiar combination of dominant and tonic chords progress lively; at the modulation in the middle, he skillfully brings out the best of tone colors.  When playing the E flat minor, the inward passion sounded not melancholic but refreshing, special quality of Blechacz’s interpretation.
In playing Mazurkas op.41, he naturally expresses distinctive characters of the four Mazurkas in a calm, relaxed breath without intentionally accentuating rhythms. An unpretentious approach; he has studied and digested interpretations of great master pianists in detail, creating a modern approach without letting personal arbitrariness in public.
He put a lot of spirit into his playing Ballade No.1.  All notes were played beautifully but some rapid passages sounded rough.  Did he become too excited?

The second half was dedicated to Concerto in F minor. His sounds are healthy and beautiful for describing feelings of youth exquisitely.  The yearning of youth and passion are out there in fineness.  Blechacz’s naïve sensitivity crystallized the very pure expression.  There was no novel approach, risk-carrying adventure, thrilling expression, or intense appealing power.  The baton of Otomo carefully shadows the soloist.  His meticulous support helped the Tokyo Symphony demonstrate the charm of the virtuoso concerto.  Krystian Zimerman was witnessed seated in the audience.  I guess that Blechacz receives a lot of useful advices from his compatriot mentor.  I sincerely hope that these two outstanding pianists will continue to explore their own styles.


On October 19, I was at his recital at Tokyo Opera City Hall.  The repertoire was Ballad No.1, Waltzes op.34, Scherzo No.1, Polonaises op.26, Mazurkas op.41 and Ballad No.2.  It was solo piano pieces of the special concert plus Waltzes, Scherzo and Ballad No.2.  He prudently chose pieces he acquired fully.  I wish I could hear a monumental work that could be a pillar of the recital.

He didn’t dare to experiment different interpretations or add a bold improvisation every time he performs. Rather, he offers consistent performances as the time passes peacefully.  The A flat major Waltz was ambitious, Scherzo was outstanding in hot blood and Ballad No.2 was comfortable hearing rich and lyrical expression with great emotion.  The honest pianist blessed with much talent.  I hope he will further mature into greatness.


Tadao Aosawa
Born on December 22, 1941.  Music critic.  Began writing for newspapers, magazines and encyclopedia in 1967.  Member of jury for music awards.  Personality for FM radio music program. Member of Tokyo Music Pen Club and Music Pen Club Japan.



(In the article, pictures of post-recital autographic session at Opera City are also shown, describing that more than 200 people lined for the rare opportunity to talk to Blechacz.  A testimony to the high popularity of Blechacz in this country.)

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Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com


Nov 22, 2010

A thunderous applause again in Hamburg

Japanese

On Sunday,  November 21, Rafał Blechacz played Chopin’s Concerto No.1 in E minor with NDR Sinfonieorchester in Hamburg Laeiszhalle (matinee concert).
Conductor: Krzysztof Urbański

“On Sunday again Rafał played beautifully to the full house. There was a thunder of applause and stamping on the floor, and shouting and Rafał played one encore (Nocturne, posthum.). He would play more because the audience was insisting, but the orchestra rose from their chairs and thus declared the first half of the concert over”.
(Roman Frackowski)


A ceremony was scheduled on Nov.21 to give Blechacz 2010 Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Prize of the German Record Critics), but it was postponed to Stuttgart on Dec. 13 (schedule not finalized).



Rafał Blechacz 's next concert will be at Chamber Music Hall, Berliner Philharmoniker on November 30, with all Chopin program.
Tickets have been sold out for months.

Preview of the recital on culture.pl (English)
Preview of the recital on culture.pl (Polish)

Facebook posting by Berliner Philharmoniker


Nov 21, 2010

The winner---Rafał Blechacz (Video)

Japanese

Have you ever watched this video?
"The winner, Rafał Blechacz"
Portrait of Rafał Blechacz, winner of the 15th International Piano Competition, produced by TVP in cooperation with ARTE.

Click the picture to watch the video.

For me it is the first time to see it.  I found it by chance, although I guess it has been broadcast in Poland and Europe many times.

The film shows the moment of announcement of results and complete victory in the contest by Rafał Blechacz, his reactions to the verdict, a big applause. Blechacz talks about his experiences, impressions from the competition, speaks about the road traveled until the time of the announcement of  so great results. (English subtitles are given!!)
Then he performs the Concerto in E minor, accompanied by the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit. 


I felt that he was the true winner.

I was able to recognize a few of my friends in the audience.

A great gift to those who usually cannot watch TVP programs in Asia, Americas, etc...

I was informed that this video is not viewable in US.  I feel very sorry for that!
There are many who love Rafał's music and visit this website in States... (Nov.24)

In this context, the blog article that has countered the biggest number of accesses is "Rafał Blechacz's recital in Hamburg aired by TV ARTE (Video)".
As for the Japanese blog article, the most popular one has been "A month to go before 2010 Chopin Competition"(Video).

Young soloist and conductor play youthful Chopin's song for young audience--Kiel

Japanese

On November 19, Rafał Blechaczl played Chopin’s Concerto No.1 in E minor with NDR Sinfonieorchester in Kieler Schloss.
Conductor: Krzysztof Urbański

"Last night (Fri) in Kiel Rafal got a big applause and played one encore: Nocturne posthum. The public was very young although there were some elderly. The acoustics wasn't as good as in the Hamburg Laeiszhalle, but everything went OK. The conductor decided to play the Concerto a little faster than a night before because of the acoustics. We had a great treat anyhow".
(Roman Frackowski)


Nov 20, 2010

Review of Rafał Blechacz's Chopin concerto with NDR orchestra, Hamburg (2)

Japanese

Another review of Blechacz's playing Chopin Concerto with NDR orchestra in Hamburg on Nov. 18,
posted on welt.de on Nov.20.

Original review (German)
by Helmut Peters
(© Felix Broede)


From Penderecki to Chopin, Stravinsky's Firebird

Poland's musical modern time is dominated by relatively a few big names. One of its important representatives, Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, died only few days ago on November 12 at the age of 77 years. In 2013, the music world will remember the 100th birthday of Witold Lutosławski, and in the same year, Krzysztof Penderecki will commit his 80th birthday.

In 1960, Penderecki, with his work of tragedy "Threnody (to the Victims of Hiroshima )", created a true classic of the modern time for 52 string instruments, which the NDR Symphony Orchestra played in the Laeiszhalle on Thursday at beginning of a concert with a focus on Poland.  Two young and promising talents from Poland, the conductor Krzysztof Urbański and the pianist Rafał Blechacz, were invited and surprised with just as idiosyncratic and intelligent artistic styles.

The caustically sharp Cluster of "Threnos", Penderecki dedicated to the victims of Hiroshima, under Urbańsk’s management worked like electric shock. Half a century ago, the use of such tone clusters and turning on new techniques such as tapping sounds on the instrument body or the hard strike was close to the revolutionary bridge.  However, also traditional models are found in the formal construction of the three part piece. Perhaps Penderecki transferred polyphony of Bach into musical cancer of modernity, a kind of reflection of the course according to a symmetry axis from back to front.   Urbańsk meticulously kept an eye on this occasion on the dynamic gradations and let the seemingly infinite sound surface fade away quietly in the area to the end.

Similarly, careful and sensitive as the young conductor, just nominated as chief conductor of the Trondheim Symfoniorkesters, also 25-year old pianist Rafał Blechacz proved so with e-Moll concerto by Frédéric Chopin.
As Robert Schumann orchestrated, Chopin was not always skillful, but this is what spurred the NDR Symphony Orchestra and Blechacz more and more, in the dialogue with solo woodwind players time and again to find the exposed horn and piano, intimate colors.
Finely sounded the start of the Romance and the transient pause of horn that always marked phrase transitions, before Blechacz leads in the beautiful cantabile melodic line itself.
The virtuoso arabesques used by Blechacz was hardly bold for self-representation, but worked out the details.

Finally Urbańsk succeeded with Igor Stravinsky's third "Firebird" suite.
Where Stravinsky smashes the components of its melodic figures and distributes his anything but sparingly occupied orchestra on the register, Urbańsk always kept an eye on the river and gave the engine of the magician’s passages with powerful thrusts.

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Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com



Review of Rafał Blechacz's Chopin concerto with NDR orchestra, Hamburg

Japanese

The review of the concert on Nov.18, was posted on aberdblatt.de on Nov.20.

Original review (German)


Urbańsk 's baton evoked Penderecki’s unheard sounds

It was polyphonic, shocking, desperate wails, Krzysztof Urbańsk drew out of the NDR Symphony Orchestra. Krzysztof Penderecki's piece "Threnody - the victims of Hiroshima for 52 strings lasts for only eight minutes and a half, but it contains all the hopelessness of the world in the face of the first atomic bomb dropped on a populated city. Urbański, the young Polish rising star, conducted from memory, precise and oratorical, and he finds suggestive gestures that evoke Penderecki to the outrageous sounds. The music hits in the heart.

(© Felix Broede)
Very special as well, when he and Rafał Blechacz interpreted Chopin's Piano Concerto in E minor: the orchestra was taken back and more on the search of the poetic lines after the pithy counterpoint to the soloist. And the piano part that was played out perfectly accurate, virtuosic, transparent, modeling sound for sound. All the enthusiasm aroused Blechacz in the audience, who then demanded two encores from him: This Chopin was pure every romanticism; many topics often suddenly stood side by side with each other, as if searching for fractions instead of connections.
So, the impression of a brilliantly completed piano exercise remained over a wide stretch into little varied dynamics that touched the core soul of the work only at some rare moments.


Then in the end Stravinsky's third concert suite from his ballet "The Firebird". Urbańsk and the NDR Symphony Orchestra delighted in the fine fabric of Russian melodies and distressing finesses, with which Stravinsky breaks it open and places in scenes. Very neatly played, but from the baton something was missing to present the sound experiments of the composer in a way that they would be urged as the beginning of a revolutionary upheaval in his ear.

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Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com

Nov 19, 2010

Excellent concerto by Blechacz and NDR Orchestra, Urbańsk

Japanese

On November 18, Rafał Blechaczl played Chopin’s Concerto No.1 in E minor with NDR Sinfonieorchester in Hamburg Laeiszhalle.
Conductor: Krzysztof Urbańsk

"Tonight's Concerto (played as a 2nd item of the pogram) was played excellently by Rafał and the NDR orchestra under the young conductor from Poland Krzysztof Urbańsk. The audience went into frenzy clapping and shouting. Rafal played two encore: Nocturne Posth, and Mazurka"
(Roman Frackowski).

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This is the news about Krzysztof Urbanski.

Starting next fall, 28-year-old Krzysztof Urbańsk will join the Jacobs School of Music as an adjunct professor of music in orchestral conducting.

The Polish conductor will also become the music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, making him the first to attain both positions, and the nation’s youngest music director of a major U.S. orchestra.
(News from R. Frackowski)

Nov 18, 2010

Interviews/reviews of Blechacz's concerts appeared in music magazines (Japan)

Japanese

A lot of articles about Rafał Blechacz's concerts in Japan in October appeared in music monthly magazines published today.


Report by Tadao Aosawa,
Ongaku-no-tomo
"Ongaku-no-tomo (music is friend)", December 2010 edition:
*Report/review of special concert @Suntory Hall and recital @Tokyo Opera City by Tadao Aosawa
*Interview by Takaakira Aosawa
*"Special report of piano masters-Zimerman, Blechacz and Pollini" by Minoru Okamoto
*Review of recital @Tokyo Opera City by Kyoko Michishita



Monthly Chopin, December 2010 edition:
Review by Morioka, Monthly Chopin
*Interview by Reina Morikawa
*Review of recital @Tokyo Opera City by Yo Morioka


I would like to introduce these articles poco a poco. (step by step)

**Also, in Ongaku-no-tomo, Krystian Zimerman gives a very interesting interview about the result of Chopin Competition 2010.  It is the most convincing opinion about this year's competition that I've ever read.  It is a genuine perspective from the extraordinary, great artist.  I want to find time to introduce the gist of the interview here.

Nov 17, 2010

Webcast of Rafał Blechacz's Chopin with NDR Sinfonieorchester (Conductor: Krzysztof Urbańsk), Dec. 13

Japanese

Rafał Blechacz's performance of Chopin’s Concerto No.1 in E minor with NDR Sinfonieorchester (Conductor: Krzysztof Urbańsk) will be broadcast by NDR Kultur on December 13 @20:00. (CET)

Program site of NDR Sinfonieorchester
You can download the program booklet of the concert (Nov.18 and 21).
You can download the news release of this concert.
You can download the broadcast program of December 13.



Listen to the NDR Kultur from here (WMA).
OR
Listen from NDR Kultur website←Select "Livestream" to listen to the program.  (It seems that Livestream doesn't function on IE.  Chrome and Firefox has no problem on my PCs.)


This information was provided by Jan (Holland).  I looked at this website time and again but didn't notice the announcement of the broadcast.  A deep appreciation to Jan!

Yesterday, Jan was listening to the Dutch radio 4; the program"de klassieken" and a fan of Rafał (who follows Rafał since his winning in Warsaw) asked for the broadcast of a the second part of the pianoconcert nr 1 with the Concertgebouw Orchestera conducted by Semkow (instead of the inerpretation of Zimerman, as stated in the playlist!) So Jan enjoyed hearing Rafał's interpretation knowing this is a real promotion to all listeners of this well known classical station.

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

Nov 15, 2010

From Champs-Elysées to Hamburg and Kiel --Rafał Blechacz

Japanese
Rafał Blechacz will play Chopin’s Concerto No.1 in E minor with NDR Sinfonieorchester in Hamburg and Kiel.
Conductor: Krzysztof Urbańsk

November 18 and 21 @Hamburg, Laeiszhalle
November 19 @Kieler Schloss

Preview of the concert
This preview has had a lot of accesses!

On the occasion of matinee concert on Sunday, November 21, a ceremony will be held in which 2010 Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Prize of the German Record Critics) will be handed to Rafał Blechacz.

Warmest congratulations on his succession of receiving the great awards!!

K. Urbański

*************************
One of the attendees to Rafał’s concert at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (Nov. 10) writes her impression on swietapolska.com.

(Quote)
I attended this concert, I wanted to hear Rafał Blechacz since his winning the Chopin Competition 2005. I think he is one of the best interpreters of Chopin since Rubinstein;  he played Chopin’s music with great feelings and sensitivity, and I could hear in his interviews he talks about Chopin with great tenderness and ardor . No doubt he "inhabits" in this composer and he knows perfectly how to express Chopin. A great bravo to Mr. Blechacz for his magnificent performance! I did not dare to go to meet him after the concert, I regret it a bit ... Could you please send him this message and tell him my admiration? I am fascinated by Chopin, and through him, by Poland and Warsaw where I visited very often. I even went to Bydgoszcz, where Rafal studied... Un grand merci.
(Unquote)

Nov 12, 2010

Rafał Blechacz awarded with Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin (2)

Japanese

Deutsche Grammophon's official announcement

(Quote)

Rafal Blechacz Wins Prestigious Polish Chopin Awards
Since 1985, the Chopin Society in Warsaw has bestowed the Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin on the finest interpretations of Chopin’s music. The selection by a jury of celebrated artists, reviewers and recording directors takes place every five years in conjunction with the Warsaw International Chopin Piano Competition. In 2010 the "Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin" goes to Rafal Blechacz for the following album:

Chopin: The Piano Concertos
Rafał Blechacz
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Jerzy Semkow
Deutsche Grammophon
477 8088 ▪ 477 8528 (Poland)

Congratulations Rafal!
(Unquote)

Facebook page of Deutsche Grammophon, Congratulations to Rafal
"We are sure there is more to come.."

twitter by Deutsche Grammophon
"Congratulations! Rafal Blechacz wins the "Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin" for his "Piano Concerto" album".

Rafał Blechacz awarded with Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin
His CD"Preludes" received Honorable Mention of this award.



Nov 11, 2010

Long ovation to Rafał Blechacz and Sinfonia Varsovia

Japanese

"Rafał Blechacz played Chopin's Concerto No. 1 tonight at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées  with Sinfonia Varsovia under the direction of Jerzy Semkow. He played it so beutifully that the audience applauded long and loudly, shouting for an encore. So he played Mazurka op 50 no. 2 for them and was rewarded again with a big applause."
(Roman Frackowski)

From Wiadomosci.wp.pl
"Subscribers rewarded pianist and orchestra with hot applause, asking them for an encore and not letting them leave the scene a long time".

Encore by the orchestra: The Marriage of Figaro, (according to a blog by an attendee.)

Gazeta.pl
tokfm.pl
rp.pl

Nov 10, 2010

Rafał Blechacz awarded with Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin

Japanese

From KlassikAkzente on November 9, 2010,

Every five years, Polish Chopin Society gives the Grand Prix of Disque of Frédéric Chopin.  It is sought-after award in the professional world and finally there is the independent jury composed of artists, journalists and producers who are just as knowledgeable as strictly judgmental.


In this anniversary year, awards were now given again, and Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz was given the top prize in the category; “Contemporary Recording”.  In addition, his “Preludes” was honored with Honorable Mention, so was the recording of Nocturnes by his Brazilian colleague Nelson Freire . In the historic segment of the republication, the early reception “Martha Argerich plays Chopin” got the Chopin Prize.
A respectable record for the artists of Deutsche Grammophon and Decca!

Nov 8, 2010

Rafał Blechacz, Sinfonia Varsovia, Jerzy Semkow @Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

Japanese

On November 10, 2010.


(Program)
Chopin Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor
Schubert Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944 "The Great"


Théâtre des Champs-Elysées website

Culture.pl website (Polish)

Poland radio (English) "Blechacz takes Chopin to Paris".

The preview was posted on many media's websites the previous day of the concert.
RMF classic
Example  Example2

**************************
Webradio information

Blechacz's playing Chopin's Concerto in F minor with Sinfonia Varsovia (Dir. Antoni Wit) on Feb. 22 for Chopin Birthday Week in Warsaw

will be broadcast by

The Netherlands Radio 4, on November 9, @ 00:38 (CET)←midnight of November 8
Please click on "Luister Live" to hear the program.

and by France Musique on November 10, @12:30 (CET)
Please click on  "écouter le direct"to hear the program

(Program)
Schumann Symphony No.2
Chopin Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor
(Encores)
Chopin Mazurka op.17-4,
Chopin Mazurka op.50-2

**Not only Chopin's Concerto with Blechacz as soloist, Schumann's symphony No.2 by Sinfonia Varsovia directed by Antoni Wit is wonderful. I loved this symphony directed by L. Bernstein (just before his death) but this one is also remarkable.

Nov 6, 2010

Rafał Blechacz, Steinway artist- - interview in Japan

Mostly Classic, a music monthly in Japan, provides a special feature of Steinway on its December 2010 issue.  Rafał Blechacz was interviewed as one of the Steinway artists.  The interview was given during his stay in Japan in October.

******************************************
-Krystian Zimerman came to your concert in Suntory Hall a few days ago.
Yes, and he visited me at the backstage.  In the previous week, I went to his concert at the same venue, Suntory Hall.  We exchanged a surprise (smiling).
Like any other young pianists in my country, I've felt great respect for Krystian Zimerman since my childhood.  The great existence that all Poles are proud of but actually he is humorous and warmhearted.  Since I met him for the first time six months before the Chopin Competition, he has always extended kindness to me.

-You both are Pole; winner of Chopin Competition; have exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.  You have a lot in common with Zimerman.  Also you both are the Steinway artist.
Yes.  It is not that a Steinway artist must play only with Steinway but there are some conditions; e.g. the artist should use Steinway daily and bring out its merits.  I have my Steinway at home. I bought it four years ago.  I played with Steinway for the Chopin Competition.

-What attracts you most?
Potential of sound.  Steinway renders various kinds of sounds.  For example, when playing fortissimo at climax, it creates sound that is not only high in volume but is comprehensive in tonal density.  It sings in a sonorous voice with dignity.  Therefore, you don’t feel it loud. On the other hand, in playing piano and pianissimo, it offers a pallet of diversified sounds.  It is a feature of Steinway that when I want to create a specific sound, it is realized.

-Does every school has Steinway in Poland?
A school has one or two instruments only.  Conditions vary.  In some cases, it is not tuned appropriately.  A good concert hall like Philharmonic has Steinways tuned in a good condition.

-How was it when you played Steinway for the first time?
It was when I was nine, giving a concert for the first time in Warsaw.  It was my first encounter with Steinway.  I felt as if touching directly sounds.  It was not that I was performing with keys but my fingertips were capturing each sound straight.  It was unprecedented experience and I was very happy.

- Does Steinway contribute to the beautiful sound that you render?
I think so.  I’m very interested in various sounds.  If I want to express various feelings and emotions, I often do so by using different sounds.  It’s important for me to try to find out the best sound in each context even during daily practice.  Steinway offers infinite opportunities to reach an ideal sound.  It is very effective to study in creating sounds.

-What are you going to play now with the sound you find?
Chopin, of course, and music by classical composers are important for me.  And impressionist music, some of which will be on my next CD.
(End of the interview)


Read Blechacz's interview with Steinway in Austria (1) and (2)


**My excuse:  Some Japanese words have a wide range of meanings and when I read an article translated from Polish or English into Japanese, sometimes it makes me mad because I can't figure out what was the exact word that Blechacz used.  A typical example is "Neiro" that is often used in this article.  It could be texture, timbre, tone color, sound, sonic palette, etc..


But it could be that he just said "sound".  I found that in his interview in Brussels in April, he talked about importance of right tuning and said that "playing the instrument of older era helps him imagine the sound ("son" in French) sought by Chopin".


Therefore, I decided to use "sound" in italic for "Neiro", for this article and other articles translated back from Japanese on this blog.  "

Nov 4, 2010

Kopernikana, University of Michigan

From Kopernikana 2010, a booklet issued by Copernicus Endowment, University of Michigan.
"Pianist Blechacz to play Hill Auditorium".

Click image, P.1
Click image to read the article. P.4




program of Feb. 11  (You can hear his beautiful Mazurka.)
program of Feb. 13  (Rackham auditorium)

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

Arabic version of Youtube/AFP from Blechacz's interview  and performance in Yokohama 

French  German  Spanish  Portuguese

Title of this video is, by the way, "The Chopin competition, launchpad to a music career".  But it is evident that winning by verdict doesn't always mean that the winner is of equal caliber as such great artists as Zimerman, Pollini and Blechacz. 


Nov 1, 2010

Interview by Warsaw Music Management

(Notice) This website will not be viewable @17:00-23:00, November 4 (CET) due to server maintenance work.


Japanese


Rafał Blechacz’s calendar has been full until the year 2013
Interviewer: Adam Willma

original interview (Polish)

Interview with Andrzej Haluch, president of Warszawski Impresariat Muzyczny (Warsaw Music Management ) representing such artists as Rafał Blechacz, Krystian Zimerman and Mischa Maisky.

(Excerpt)
(About this year’s winner of the Chopin Competition:
Andrzej Haluch says that he has currently no plan or intention to sign a contract with this year’s winner.  He says that in the long run, the verdict by the jury will be reviewed by the public who pays for recordings and concerts. He also comments on possible influence by the maker of the instrument, the method of reaching the verdict. )


Poznan, May, 2010
- You have represented Mr. Rafał Blechacz for the past five years.  What has changed in the time?
- Rafał makes an extraordinary career abroad. He is invited to all the great concert halls. I browsed his calendar for the coming year and found that he will be three times there in Salle Pleyel in Paris. Reviews are enthusiastic, I’ve not met with a single criticism. Rafał is widely recognized as a great musical personality, and in just five years he arose firmly on all the most important music markets.

- Classical music is also part of the music business. In such a circumstance, how can one achieve success today in this industry, if not by contests?
- At the moment, the most important way to build your career is to contract with a major record company. Most of them have a very powerful promotion department. The key to success is to gain your own audience. The Internet has changed the market situation.  Each artist can post there his performances, biography, photos, and is quickly found. I talked yesterday with the head of Deutsche Grammophon, who told me that half of the sales of music is by downloading - the sale of files over the Internet.

- Which revenue will come to the musicians in the future?
- Royalties from sales of CDs in serious (classical) music are much lower than in entertainment (popular) music. Depending on the contract, they range from 3 to 10 percent. Sales of CDs, especially during the concert, are very important for musicians. There is someone who buys a CD, listens to it for years, and when he sees a poster explaining about the concert, is likely to go to another concert. Deutsche Grammophon sees Rafał’s calendar and promotes his CD in parallel to the concerts.

- When can we listen to Rafał in Poland?
- Unfortunately, the next scheduled concert is only two years away - in the autumn of 2012.

- Two years later?
- Rafał must now focus on core markets of music. In the Year of Chopin, he had 5 concerts in Poland, and now the world's most prestigious venues are waiting for him. Rafał has established a reasonable limit of about 40 concerts a year. If you add two days to each of them to arrive there and rehearsal with the orchestra, it turns out that he is on the road for a half year.  He devotes the remaining time to working on new repertoire, recordings, and doctorate studies at UMK (his University). At this time his concert calendar is full until 2013. I am getting a lot of emails from fans of Rafał, who decide to go to his concerts in the Polish neighborhood, for example, to the Berlin Philharmonic. In January of next year, there is a plan to record a new CD with works by Szymanowski and Debussy. Probably we will see it in stores in April.


(Then he talks about importance for the government to support young talents, his view of Polish market for classical music.  He says that there are more young people in Poland who are ready to listen to classical music than for example Germany and because of the overall stress in the society, people are tilted toward classical music nowadays.  Crossover concerts with pop stars are, therefore, good idea to introduce new people to classical music.)