Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Dec 28, 2010

Big thanks to Our Pianist for beautiful, soulful music in 2010 Chopin Year


Let me extend our heartfelt appreciation to Rafał Blechacz for these beautiful recitals/concerts in 2010.
☆: program website
★: review

Jan. 26  Concertvatorio G.Verdi, Milan  
Jan. 27  Teatro Comunale, Treviso, recital
Jan.30, 31, Feb.1, 2 Auditorium Parco della Musica - Sala Santa Cecilia, concerto in F (Andrey Boreyko)  
Feb.22 Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Chopin Birthday Week Inaugural Concert, concerto in F (Antoni Wit)  see Video  

"after five years of beautiful and wise development of his international career and at the same time maturing as an artistic personality, showed how deeply he enters into the understanding and feeling of the Chopin music.".(Nasz Dziennik)

Feb.26  Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, NY Metropolitan Museum of Art  
Feb.27  Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, Washington DC  

"...a musician in service to the music, searching its depths, exploring its meaning and probing its possibilities. He plays with humility and absolute clarity and you might even call his approach dutiful, but that would leave the false impression that he is dry and academic". (Washington Post)

March 5  Industries Theater, Bryan Center, Duke University, NC
March 6  Spivey Hall, Clayton State University, Atlanta, Georgia  
March 25  Victoria Hall, Geneva  
March 29  Zürich Tonhalle  
April 20  Aula of UMK (Hall of Nicolaus Copernicus University)  photos 1 2 3 4

"…Of course Chopin in my country is a very important composer and when I play Chopin especially after my winning there was something something special.
I’m always very happy when I can play for Polish people in our concert halls…".
(Rafał Blechacz in an interview with Fred Child, Washington DC, US, March 2010)

April 27  Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels  
May 9  Amsterdam Concertgebouw
May 14  Rokokotheater, Schloss Schwetzingen
May 20  Łódź, Concerto in F (Christian Ehwald)   
May 25  Aula of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Concerto in F (Wojciech Rodek)   photos 1 2 3

"In Chopin's music there are a lot of pains and sorrows but also hope that in hard times currently experienced by the Poles is all very much needed." (Rafał Blehcacz)

June 12  Koncerthaus Dortmund
June 14  Salle Pleyel, Paris   
June 16  Nohant   
June 27  Gastkonzert Bad Kissingen, Concerto in F with Wiener Symphoniker (Philippe Auguin)     
July 13  Teatro dei Rozzi, Siena, when the 27th International Prize of Accademia Musicale Chigiana was given   award
Aug. 5  A.P. Møller Skolen, Schleswig for Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival  (English)
Aug 6  Kolosseum, Lübeck   (2nd from the top)
Aug. 27  Teatro Victoria Eugenia, San Sebastian  
Aug 29  Plaza de la Cartoixa in Valldemossa  

"I chose two Polish and one French composers to show the various relationships that exist between them. Szymanowski is not as well known as Chopin, but his music is very interesting because it conveys emotions and because of its harmonies. In turn, it is a little impressionistic, like Debussy and what I want to do is to show the connections that exist between Debussy and Szymanowski and between Szymanowski and Chopin".(Rafał Blechacz)

Oct. 3  Osaka The Symphony Hall, Concerto in F with Century Orchestra Osaka (Naoto Otomo) + recital
Osaka, October 3
Oct. 6  Tokyo Suntory Hall, Concerto in F with The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (Naoto Otomo) + recital  ☆  photos1 2
Oct. 9  Aichi Prefectural Art Theater Concert Hall
Oct. 11  Yokohama Philia Hall  photos
Oct. 15  Kawaguchi Lilia Hall
Oct. 17  Osaka The Symphony Hall
Oct. 19  Tokyo Opera City Hall  
Oct. 21  Acros Fukuoka Symphony Hall   photos
Oct. 23  Yokohama Minato-mirai Hall
(From Japan tour program booklet  

Nov. 10  Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Concerto in E with Sinfonia Varsovia (Jerzy Semkow)  
Nov. 18, 21  Hamburg, Laeiszhalle, Concerto in E with NDR Orchestra (Krzysztof Urbański)   
Nov. 19  Kieler Schloss  ditto
Nov. 30   Chamber Music Hall, Berliner Philharmonie    
Dec. 7  Queen Elizabeth Hall, London  
Dec. 10  Konzerthaus, Vienna, Concerto in E with ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra (Cornelius Meister)
Dec. 13  Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Liederhalle (Beethoven-Saal), Stuttgart
Received Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Prize of the German Record Critics) Award

"Blechacz’s playing boasts of impeccable technique and youthful verve. More than that, the creative power of the young performer affects. His beautifully balanced rubati, extract melodic phrases with a restrained magic and plunge us into the 'sweet abyss' (Heine) that makes Chopin's art so compelling". 
( Prof. Lothar Prox, chairman of the jury)

May the new year 2011 be full of happiness, wonderful experiences for Rafał!

Dec 27, 2010

From Exhibition "Chopin - Blechacz" in Nakło nad Notecią


From Exhibition "Chopin - Blechacz" in Nakło nad Notecią, Rafał Blechacz's birth place (October 26-late November) at the Muzeum Ziemi Krajenskiej (Museum of Krajna Region).

You can see almost all the displays from the museum's website.
Slideshow is available.

(related postings from this blog 1 2)

Dec 23, 2010

From recent radio programs (Poland, UK)


On Sunday, December 12, 23:00 Polish time, Polish Radio 1 broadcast a full hour of Konkurs chopinowski program by Adam Rozlach entirely devoted to Rafał Blechacz. It was based on his recent achievements as well as a recollection of his victory in 2005 - all pieces played during the program were from Rafał's appearances during the 15th Int'l Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, 2005 and Rozlach emphasized that since then no other better pianist appeared on the world piano stage.
(thanks to Roman Frackowski for info.)

**Adam Rozłach, in the Polish Radio program “Najwybitniejsi polscy chopiniści (The most outstanding Polish Chopinist), presents the most eminent Polish pianists from Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Josef Hofmann, Aleksander Michalowski, and Raoul Koczalski, then Halina Czerny Stefańska, Adam Harasiewicz, Krystian Zimerman and Rafał Blechacz.

**"It was Rafał Blechacz’s competition".
"…I want to emphasize, during this competition nobody played Chopin like Blechacz did, and nobody was as close to Chopin as he was. This was a historic performance, we were witnesses to a great moment, I can say this without a shadow of a doubt."
(Adam Rozlach, from Gazeta, 22nd of Oct., 2005)

On December 15, BBC Radio 3 broadcast Blechacz’s recital at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on December 7.
Presenter: Petroc Trelawny
Commentator: Dr. Kenneth Hamilton: pianist, musicologist and writer

The program began with Rafał Blechacz’s words on Bach music.  He reiterated his interest in polyphony of Bach, being incorporated into other composers’ works that he played in London; Symanowski, Debussy and Chopin. Trelawny added that Blechacz says that he uses other composers, Bach and Debussy, to prepare his Chopin and his interpretations of Chopin are enriched by them.  Hamilton explained how Bach elements are used in other composers.  For example, Chopin recommended that people play Bach and he practiced it hard before concerts.  "Something of delineation of individual lines in Bach, a lucidity that you also get from Chopin.  And if you hear the first of Polonaises, for example, in the middle section, you will hear different inner voices coming out (not the principle voice) but different voices being attracted into the orbit of the music and it is very similar to Bach."

Trelawny and Hamilton highly evaluated Blechacz’s performance, especially about Debussy’s Pour le Piano, as an exciting performance. Hamilton said that Blechacz’s performance was full of vibrant, sparkling energy and commended especially his playing Saraband, saying that “I was really transfixed by all this performance”.
He says this piece tends be “terribly dragging, boring” and he always teaches his students at Birmingham University not to be boring, which is the biggest “sin” in music.

They also praised Blecyacz’s performance of Polonaise opus 26 by Chopin.
Hamilton said that Polonaise in E flat minor, a somber, slightly ferocious piece, describes deep, profound emotions of Chopin with six flats, increasing sharpness.  Unlike the Military Polonaise, it is rarely performed therefore, "credit should be given to Blechacz to play both of opus 26 polonaises which are fascinating, worth hearing, but not often heard."

"It was very mature performances", Trelawny said, adding that he is just 25 and you shouldn’t forget that.  Hamilton couldn't agree more.

To conclude the program, Trelawny referred to the words by Blechacz's teacher;
she told him to treat the Chopin Competition as just one more stage in his development, and said,
"You could lose in every competition, but it is most important for you not to lose your love of music".

(Recital program)

BACH: Partita No.1 in B flat for keyboard, BWV.825
SZYMANOWSKI: Prelude & fugue in C sharp minor
DEBUSSY: Pour le piano
CHOPIN: Ballade No.2 in F, Op.38
3 Waltzes, Op.34
2 Polonaises, Op.26
Scherzo No.1 in B minor, Op.20

NPR selects Blechacz's Chopin Concertos as one of the top 5 albums of 2010


NPR, the US public broadcaster, selected Rafał Blechacz's album "Chopin The Piano Concertos" as one one the top 5 albums of Chopin and Schuman of 2010.

Selected by Robin Gehl, Vice-President of Programming at WGUC.

She writes; "Rafał Blechacz, winner of the 2005 International Chopin Competition, performed Chopin's first concerto at the competition, and was the first Pole to win the prize since 1975. Blechacz's third recording, featuring Chopin's Concertos No. 1 and 2, reached double-platinum status in Poland and was awarded a prestigious German Record Critic's Award. Blechacz offers a mature, soulful interpretation of the first concerto that's worthy of all the accolades"

Read the story on NPR site.

(Note: In US, this album was released on Feb. 23, 2010, five months after the release in Europe)

Dec 22, 2010

Happy holidays to you

Dear readers of Preludia, fans of Rafał Blechacz,
May your holidays be filled with peace and joy and happiness.
Happy New Year!
Thank you for visiting.  Please keep in touch! 

Dec 21, 2010

Interview by Krystian Zimerman/ Andrzej Jasinski

Interview by Krystian Zimerman about the Chopin Competition of 2010, carried by Ongaku-no-tomo, a music magazine in Japan, December 2010 issue.
Interviewer: Shinichiro Okabe, Professor of Meiji University and music critic.

This article is nothing to do with Rafał Blechacz.  But for those who showed interest in the topic, I’m posting it.

It was late in October that Krystian Zimerman called me saying that he has something that he needs to talk about this year’s Chopin Competition.  It was just after the competition ended and the news of Julianna Avdeeva’s winning quickly got around the world.  Zimerman remained in Tokyo after completing his tour with Hagen Quartet to play pieces by Bacewicz and Schuman.  He was about to leave the next morning and I met him the previous day that he is returning to Europe.
Words began to pour from his lips as though a dam inside him had broken.  He has already organized the points.  This year no Japanese contestant was able to be qualified for the final and he said he wanted to refer to that, too.

Zimerman: Thank you for coming with such a short notice.  First let me say that this year’s competition, there was a situation that I must describe as quite complicated and abnormal.  During the competition, I kept contacts with some twenty people of various kinds: those who were at the Hall of the Competition and directly heard the performances, those reliable critics who have good ears, some close friends, and others who heard the Competition via TV and the Internet.  I was staying in Tokyo, watching carefully how it was in the Competition and I immediately noticed one thing;
“The sound that now I’m hearing via microphone is different from the sound of live performance in Warsaw".  I have a thorough knowledge of how the Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw sounds and how the piano on that stage sounds, because I played there many times.  You must express extremely clear in order to communicate your interpretation accurately to listeners.  For example, a small crescendo doesn’t make difference in that environment.  Sometimes you must use an exaggerated expression.  The performance, then, is broadcast.  Microphone captures each sound and the reverberation and other elements are adjusted.  The music thus conveyed through speaker systems becomes an “exaggerated” music.  So the music delivered to those who listen to the performances on TV or via the Internet becomes different from the live performances.  In reality, there were many who listened to the final stage of the Competition through broadcast felt that “it is not right.  The judgment is wrong”.  But those who were at the Hall to listen to the live performances didn’t understand why so many people were opposed to the verdict. “What’s the problem? “ they thought, believing that the verdict was reasonable. 

Then the controversy happened.  It’s natural.  The fact was that two different versions of the Competition were heard.  Those who heard the performances only with Net or TV didn’t notice it.  But for me it was clear.  The sound by broadcast is different from the raw sound at the hall.  The sound that performers created on the stage disappeared because artificial corrections were added.  Therefore, I won’t give any evaluation to the current competition, because what I was able to hear was only the “different version”.  I will therefore, avoid citing each contestant’s name.

However, when I see people criticize the result of the judgment while others endorsing it, the observation gave me a lot of materials to consider from many points of view.  It could be that those who heard performances only through media without exposed to the live performances came to make wrong evaluation, which I think is important point to consider.

---It could be safely said that Japanese audience is fortunate, although being very far from Warsaw, because in January there will be concerts here participated by this year’s laureates and they will be able to hear their performances directly.  You can make sure each performer and understand his/her music.

Zimerman: Secondly, how a competition should be, what kind of possibility it provides or how it should not be.  My belief is that a competition should not be a tool to decide future course of a pianist.  Any competition cannot play such a role.  Actually, the Chopin Competition in Warsaw shouldn’t pretend that they can accomplish the impossible.  Of course they don’t believe that they can do it.  Needless to say, all the judges are with excellent insights, pianists of exceptional talent, active in the first line.  Andrzej Jasinski is a man of integrity and there is no doubt about it. He clearly articulates what he believes in.He asserts what he thinks is right, never bending his principle if it may embarrass others.It is absolutely impossible to buy the award of the Chopin Competition by money.

--It is true.  It is very different from an international sports event that we’ve heard recently.  (laughing)

Zimerman:  Setting aside joking, as far as the Chopin Competition is concerned, I strongly believe that there is no room of such a wrongdoing.  But when I talked with him on the phone recently, he confessed that judging this year’s competition was extremely difficult.  Actually, all the finalists were talented to be qualified for winning the crown of victory.  Each talent differs, of course.  Their talents extend toward many different directions, but judges have to decide who comes first, then the second and third, etc, putting diversified talents onto the linear scale.  What they had to do was to forcefully plot three-dimensional dots of talents onto the one-dimensional order.  If you look at the awardees of special prizes, the Sonata Award went to the first placer, whereas the other awards for Mazurkas, Polonaise and Concerto were given to different contestants.  This is the evidence of how the finalists were equally matched in ability.  Of course the winner was recognized as a very excellent pianist.  But the other musicians of runner-ups and below were equally excellent and it was significantly difficult to tell who is best or better.  Therefore it entailed the very difficult problem.  They had to decide who is the first, second and the third. But I’m wondering if it was something that should not be done.  I would like to ask the question to many people.  Is it so important for you that a pianist is recognized in a competition as the first placer or second/third?  Is the ranking so important?

--True, in journalism, what is taken up first is who is the winner and what is the ranking.  Journalists have to writes in a limited space and this kind of attitude is often seen in the press.

Zimerman: Of course people in the business and managers who pay close attention to the result of the competition argue that the winner sells by far the better than the second/third placers.  If they invite a musician of second or third award, it cannot attract audience.  Listeners want to hear the winner’s performance, they say.  But it seems to me that everyone tries to shift the responsibility concerning the competition onto someone else.  Rather than that, we all must play our roles.  Managers should take more challenging way rather than contain themselves to secured path.  A good practice is shown in Japan where all the finalists are invited to play in one concert.

--In order to give an opportunity to all the players.

Zimerman: Yes, that’s correct.  And I also would like the audience to think about this.  Generally speaking, the difference between a pianist of the first prize, and second or third prize is very small.  It is so negligible that you cannot tell who is the best or this pianist is second.  Therefore, it could be said that the verdict done by judges of a competition may not be so important. 

--Actually, we’ve seen situations in which a winner of a prestigious competition ended up falling into obscurity whereas pianists of the second/third places have developed a very great career.  The list goes on and on. 

Zimerman: And each listener should go to concerts to listen directly to and make his/her own evaluation to each talent. 

(From here, Zimerman talks about why Japanese contestants were not able to be promoted to the third round.  He says that the Japanese didn’t understand for what purpose they were on the stage to play music.  Their mind was full of themselves.  They simply forgot to communicate with music to the listeners.  I’m not going into detail.)

Zimerman: …Those who didn’t reach the final stage are not losers.  We must not regard them as losers who reached that level and were able to be on the stage of the Chopin Competition…..Take for example, there are 100 participants in a competition.  As a result of verdict, one person is decided as winner.  But does this mean the remaining 99 pianists are losers?  Not limited to these 99.  Think about their families, teachers and friends. So many people could be made unhappy by the result when they stick to one point; I (he/she) was not able to win.

--If this is the case, the competition doesn’t make sense.

Zimerman; A competition must not be a tool to hurt someone.  But it is not reasonable to try to discontinue all the competitions.  Do you have an alternative?  After all the competitions are abolished, what do you think can fill the huge void?  First we must understand this problem before going into an extreme discussion, otherwise it is dangerous.  Because there is a competition, there are many young people making utmost effort to try to win.  I know a great many young musicians who make a leap frog of development in the three months period before the competition.  So what is important here is how we should deal with various issues in relation to a competition.
(To be continued to the next issue of Ongaku-no-tomo, which I’ve not yet read.)

Monthly Chopin, another music magazine carried in its December 2010 issue, a full-fledged special of this year’s Competition.  It includes detailed interviews with nine judges.  Naturally, they all make a statement to protect legitimacy of the result.  This is the initial part of the interview with Andrzey Jasinski.

--Are you satisfied with the result?
Yes, but let me say that all the judges had different opinions.  Please understand the majority’s opinion brought out the result. To the winner, seven judges put the first place and five judges put second place.  The way of reaching the verdict is democratic.

--How do you think about Avdeeva’s winning?
Of course I agree with the result which was decided by all the judges.  I have no intention to talk about my personal opinion here. She is a good pianist.  But let me say that if I look back the past experiences when Zimerman, Argerich and Blechacz won, this year’s winner does not reach that level. She showed various musical interpretations, and sometimes I felt she added too excessive interpretations in some rhythms such as tenuto and the way to decrease tempos…..She maintained a certain high level of performance in all the stages including the laureates’ concert and performance in front of the president.

Dec 14, 2010

Rafał Blechacz received big applause and big award in Stuttgart

Rafał Blechacz held a recital in Stuttgart tonight on December 13, his final concert in 2010.

"The Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik was handed over to Rafał tonight in Stuttgart after his recital in the Kongreshaus Liederhalle (in the Beethoven Saal). Rafał was very happy to accept it. Also he was happy because the audience received him with big enthusiasm and thunderous applause after both the first part and the completion of the entire recital. Then the ceremony of Prize awarding commenced and afterwards he played the encore (Nocturne, op. posth). He was also very happy because the instrument (Hamburg Steinway) was very good and well prepared and the hall acoustics was excellent and the public really was very well reacting, so he felt a very good rapport with them".
(Roman Frackowski)

**Congratulations Rafał Blechacz. And thank you for your beautiful concerts in this special year of 2010. I've been e-mailed with a lot of words of admiration full of emotions from fans of Rafał around the world; those who are very lucky to hear the music by the extraordinary pianist.

Review of Rafał Blechacz's playing Chopin Concerto in E minor in Vienna Konzerthaus

Review of Rafał Blechacz's playing Chopin Concerto in E minor with ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra (conductor: Corelium Meister) at Konzerthaus in Vienna on December 10,
posted on Die Presse.

original review (German)

Ovation for Rafał Blechacz in Konzerthaus
12.13.2010 | 18:19 | (Die Presse)

The brilliant pianist – from ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra in Vienna under Cornelius Meister little inspiring accompaniment - with Chopin. Five years ago, Rafał Blechac dominated the prestigious Warsaw Competition.

Five years ago, Rafał Blechacz, then just 20 years old, dominated the prestigious Warsaw Competition. Numerous successful debuts in Europe and the United States, and three equally acclaimed CD recordings followed - including the one of the two Chopin piano concertos, which is classified under international criticism of the best recordings of these pieces. Blechacz presented the first concerto at the Konzerthaus. With his interpretation that connects the highest virtuosity with natural feeling, he confirmed all the world that his early praise was anticipatory.

With this interpretation the young Pole doesn’t need to be afraid of competition not only in his age group. He also knows brilliantly of the art of rubato that is generally less mastered. Disappointing was the bulky start, not only in the final movement, that too little attention was paid to the intentions of the incoming soloist , accompanied by the ORF RSO of Vienna under its new Principal Conductor Cornelius Meister. Exactly from him as a qualified pianist one would have expected much more flexibility and fine nerve….
(from here is a comment on orchestral works.)

Dec 12, 2010

Rafał Blechacz in Stuttgart - final concert of 2010


Rafał Blechacz will give a recital @Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Liederhalle (Beethoven-Saal), Stuttgart on December 13, his final official concert in 2010.

It has been reported that Jahrespreis der Schallplattenkritik (Annual prize of the record critics) will be given to him on this occasion.

Blechacz played Chopin's concerto in E minor with ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra at Konzerthaus in Vienna on December 10.  His inspiriting interpretation enthralled and deeply fascinated nearly 2000 sophisticated music lovers of the art capital.  Young conductor Cornelius Meister was fully supportive of Blehcacz's tempo-sensitive rendition.  People never ended applauding to prompt him to offer two encores.   
"I was fully satisfied with the wonderful piano music for the first time in long time," my acquaintance, a resident in Vienna said. 
I obtained program book and it gives a full-fledged description of Blechacz's bio.  It refers to his first CD from Deutsche Grammophon "Preludes" receiving 2008 ECHO Klassik Award and this concert is his second time at Konzerthaus following his debut recital in 2007.

Dec 10, 2010

Rafał Blechacz in Vienna


On December 10, Rafał Blechacz will play Chopin's Concerto with ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor: Cornelius Meister.
@ The Konzerthaus in Vienna.
to finalize the Chopin Year in Vienna.

Chopin 2010 website
Vienna ticket office

Rafał Blechacz's recital at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London was successful.  The house was full and   there were many Poles and quite a few Japanese in the audience, according to a blog by British pianist/composer.  I saw twitter feed written by a Russian who was mesmesized by the beauty of Blechacz's interpretation.  I also know a Spanish fan going to this recital.  And my acquaintance said that a couple of Italian speakers were seated next to her.

I've obtained Blechacz's words about the program in London from program booklet.

"For my London recital I have chosen composers who are close to my heart.  Bach was my first fascination and early memories from my childhood are of going to church and listening to Bach's organ music, which I loved.  Even now, when I have free time and I am in my town, I like going to the church and playing the organ, sometimes during the mass.  The first piano competition I entered was the All Polish Bach Competition in Gorzow in 1996.  In my programme I have also included music by Debussy which made me more sensitive to the colours and shades of the sound which are so important to the interpretation.
  "The Chopin bicentenary in 2010 has been a special time for me as a Chopin Prize Winner and I would like to present his music all over the World.  I decided that the second part of my recital in London should be devoted to Chopin but I also chose one piece by Szymanowski.  Szymanowski's music is very interesting and beautiful but unfortunately is not so well-known in this country so I am very happy to be able to play it in London."

A fan's view of Rafał Blechacz's recital in Berlin

The following is a review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in Berlin on November30, written by Ms. Marzena Jaworska, a fan of the pianist from Poland.
I would like to thank Marzena for sharing her wonderful experience.

Some personal impressions from Rafał’s recital in Berlin

by Marzena Jaworska (Poznań, Poland)

A few months ago I hit upon a wild idea of taking a train to Berlin to attend this recital. As the day approached, I booked some backpacker’s accommodation in the city centre and set off towards the railway station. After a mere 3 hours I saw the famous glass roof of the Berlin Hauptbahnhof; a few more hours and I will be there, sitting in the hall and listening to Rafał’s outstanding interpretations!

I walked out several minutes before 7 p.m. looking for the ship-shaped building of the Berlin Philharmony. After a 30-minute walk I was finally there, wielding the ticket in my hand.
The atmosphere in the foyer was quiet and relaxed, with a nice cocktail of German and Polish sounds. There were noble Berlinesi wearing bow ties… There were young people speaking Polish… Even the former German president was there.

Chamber Music Hall, Berliner Philharmonie
November 30, 2010
Courtesy Dana (Poland)
At 8 o’clock sharp the hall’s lights dimmed, the door opened and Rafał literally ran onto the stage, radiating with youthful joy and freshness. Having greeted the audience with a childlike smile and a deep, elegant bow, he sat at the Steinway and spent a while staring at the keys in silent meditations. Soon he played the first chords of the G minor Ballade, which unfolded into a compelling drama full of stormy moments and sudden twists of action. His narration sounded extremely mature, with profound attention being given to every note, every shade and every tiniest detail. Playing the waltzes, he invited us to a 19th century parlour filled with the atmosphere of witty flirtations and painful adieus. Scherzo in B minor, probably the most demonic piece of Chopin’s work, famous for its quotation of the traditional Polish Christmas carol “Lulajże, Juzuniu” (“Sleep, little Jesus, sleep”), was played in a simple, calculated manner, that only deepened one’s insight into the fury of a fragile soul deprived of the sounds, flavours and tastes of its beloved homeland. There was nothing more to be added at that point.

After the intermission we heard a beautiful rendition of Polonaises Op. 26 with their monumental Beethovenian opening passage followed by noble phrases of the traditional Polish dance. A master interpretation of Mazurkas Op. 41, the ones written during the composer’s stay in Valdemossa, echoed clearly with the rhythms of Kujavian folk dances, the sound of Spanish guitar and the melody of a certain well-known Polish 19th century uhlans’ song.
The pianist finished his story by playing Ballade in F major, which is nothing else but the oeuvre Chopin dedicated to his famous contemporary Robert Schumann; the one without a clear ending. A coincidence? Not with Rafał Blechacz on stage. His pianism, breathtaking as it is, doesn’t give the full picture of him as an artist. In Rafał’s case there is also avid interest in philosophy and esthetics, an attempt to understand and honour the turbulent history of both nations and a humble commitment to the Composer’s tradition.

His generous encores only confirmed my hypothesis. The first was Mazurka in A flat major op. 50 with its obsessive repetitions of the Kujavian theme and its final phrase symbolizing some kind of fulfillment. And, last but not least, the posthumous Nocturne in C sharp minor, which served as the main theme of “The Pianist” movie. Whatever you may think of its director, the film’s core point is showing the overwhelming beauty of Chopin’s music including its power to transcend any bitter division caused by the horrors of war. Chosen at random? Of course not. Rafał has talked about being hugely impressed by that picture on various occasions. Some listeners seemed lost for words. A standing ovation.

The audience made a beeline for autographs. I took my place in the queue, two CDs in my hand. I observed Rafał chatting informally with a group of fans. What should I tell a 25-year- old man who has just proved himself the most articulate philosopher of today’s classical stage?

I congratulated him on his beautiful debut recital in Berlin. He answered me with the most humble “dziękuję” I had ever heard. Simple and honest. Thanks God he’s coming back soon to play a recital in the Konzerthaus. On April 7th, which is my birthday. Could I dream of a more perfect setting for turning older?

Dec 6, 2010

Rafał Blechacz in London

On December 7, Rafał Blechacz will give a recital at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London for International Piano Series.

Southbank Centre program site. 

Polish Culture Institute, UK, introducing the recital.

Blechacz performed Chopin's Concerto with The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit in Nov.2008 at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre.
Very favorable reviews were published.
Review by Guardian
Review by

Blechacz gave recitals at London Wigmore Hall in 2007 and 2009, too.

Dec 4, 2010

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital @Berliner Philharmonie (2)


Review of Blechacz's recital in Berlin on Nov.31, written by Isabel Herzfeld.
Original review (German)
Second one under KLASSK

A revised translation is offered below of this page.

Never indulged: Rafał Blechacz plays Chopin in the chamber music hall

A pure Chopin Recital, although going out of fashion, it is popular with the public, which is obvious with a specialist like Rafał Blechacz.  But the guest performance in Berlin by the 25-years old also shows the cliffs of the venture.  Too much, the program favors the delicacies of Ballad, Mazurka, Waltz to escape salon splash.  A big work, a sonata or a fantasie, could have counteracted. And after 90 minutes, the fun is already at end, the sold out chamber music hall cheers.

However as Blechacz plays all, it immediately reconciles.  With extreme sensitivity, an almost silent modesty, he steps back behind the work of his master, only wants to let it heard, not himself.

In this way the G minor Ballad remains more tasteful, narrative, lambent, not with Liszt’s hell fire.  The Scherzo in B minor bubbles up not in swelling waves, whose course is virtually lost in rippling sound (This sentence needs to be checked.)  Blechacz is a master of mature level.   So in the middle part – molt più lento - he binds the piano colors of an overwhelming melody stream.

Melancholic, austere and never-indulgent is always personal statement, especially so since the outbreak of the pain in E minor Mazurka, op 41.  But the grim and nervous Polonaises op 26 quickly shows their melancholic and melodic core.

All is so magnificent, pithy, so polyphonically perfused, and it must be! – that even with polished brilliance, the spirit of great Chopin play revives again.


↓A translation that Jan (Holland) kindly sent to me.  (Many thanks to Jan!!)

Pure: Rafał Blechacz plays Chopin in the Chamber Music Hall

A pure Chopin recital, so popular with the public and still came out of fashion, but is in good hands for a specialist such as Rafał Blechacz. But the Berlin performance of 25 years old guest pianist shows the cliffs of the venture. Too much, the program sets in on the delicacies like Ballads, Mazurkas and Waltzes to escape the show streams. A great work, like a Sonata or Fantasy, could neutralize this. And after 90 minutes the fun was already ended in the sold-out Chamber Music Hall.

But the way Blechacz is playing is immediately convincing. With extreme sensitivity, an almost silent humility he retires behind the work of his master, listening to him and not himself. So the g minor Ballade is still solid, telling, with no tendency to Liszt’s hell-fire. The Scherzo in b minor bubbles not in sound waves, losing itself in the almost murmur. Blechacz is a master of the mature level. So in the middle part - molto più lento - the tone colours of the piano capture an overwhelming melody stream -. Melancholy, bitterness and loneliness, are always a personal interpretation, especially in the e minor Mazurka op 41, increasing in a pain outbreak. But also the grim nervous polonaises op. 26 quickly shows their moody melodic core. All pointed out so beautifully, so polyphonically well performed, and where necessary -also with polished brilliance that the spirit of great Chopin player revives again.


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Dec 3, 2010

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital @Berliner Philharmonie


Review from of Rafał Blechacz’s recital at Berliner Philharmonie, November 30.

With Chopin against the depression 
(Thursday, 2. December 2010 02:40)

A blessing, this Rafał Blechacz.  The dream of every piano teacher. Blechacz sits straight like a candle at the Steinway, with a shy smile on the timeless childlike face.  And shines with half-forgotten pianist virtues: modesty, sobriety, spiritual depth.

The philharmonic debut of the 25-year old - it has been sold out already for many weeks.  After his quiet triumph at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw five years ago, the world knows him as exquisite pianist-philosopher.  Only in a very few solo recitals a year, Blechacz gets involved.  But then with full heart and mind awaken like lightning - as now in Berlin.

Chopin, Chopin and again Chopin Blechacz has in the luggage.  Before the stormy Ballad in G minor op.23 at beginning, the pianist grants himself an extended meditation pause.  Between the pieces, he pulls out a white handkerchief in order to rid the ivory of his own finger sweat.  Noble elegance and fine motor skill by flashing Chopin’s Waltzes op.34 No.1 and No. 3.  The B minor Scherzo op.20 turns into the strictly calculated fury.  Blechacz exercises iron self-discipline.  He amazes again and again with new shades of sound.  The most touching: the famous A minor Walze op.  34 No.2, with the fascinating, noble silk-pianissimo by Blechacz. Blechacz offers a Chopin without feverish neurosis, without depressive thrusts.  He shows a Chopin, who stands on the sunny side of life.

Has anyone ever belonged to these jewels so delicate, so evocative, so perfect, so unrestricted?  If yes, then, only from the most important representatives of the Chopin guild- Arthur Rubinstein, Martha Argerich, Grigory Sokolov or Evgeny Kissin.  And Blechacz belongs, he is under proof of sound this evening.

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Dec 2, 2010

The sky's the limit- -Rafał Blechacz in Berlin


Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Chamber Music Hall, Berliner Philharmonie, November 30.

“The recital was beautiful. The house was full. A huge applause! Rafał gave two encores. A part of an audience wanted more and kept clapping, but Berliners who are more restrained, prevailed.  I know this from a Polish friend who was there and she and some others (probably Polish) were disappointed that not all the audience continued to clap”.
(Roman Frackowski)

“A painter...a sculptor...a narrator, maybe a pianist? All that is in one person.
Rafał played fantastic, beautiful, he is GREAT and more and more better. I wonder where is limit of perfection?
His music was natural and lively, a breath-taking. You were in other world.
Two encores Mazurka No 2 op 50 and Nocturne in C sharp. When Rafał played Nocturne there was absolute silence and after that standing ovations.
Rafał, thanks!!!
There were plenty of Poles. I was sitting near two women who arrived from Piła, about 300 km to Berlin”.
(Dana, Poland)

Beautiful reviews appeared.
Review on Morgenpost as of December 2. (German)
"...with half-forgotten pianist virtues: modesty, sobriety, spiritual depth..."

Review by Isabel Herzfeld posted on Der Tagesspiegel on December 1 (German)

**English will come out on weekend.  (Sorry for the delay!) 

↓For those who cannot see the text of the first review,

Mit Chopin gegen die Depression
Donnerstag, 2. Dezember 2010 02:40

Eine Wohltat, dieser Rafal Blechacz. Der Traum eines jeden Klavierpädagogen. Kerzengerade sitzt Blechacz am Steinway, trägt ein schüchternes Lächeln im zeitlos kindlichen Gesicht. Und glänzt mit halbvergessenen pianistischen Tugenden: Bescheidenheit, Ernsthaftigkeit, geistige Tiefe.

Das Philharmonie-Debüt des 25-Jährigen - es ist ausverkauft, schon seit vielen Wochen. Nach seinem stillen Triumph beim Warschauer Chopin-Wettbewerb vor fünf Jahren kennt ihn die Welt als exquisiten Tasten-Philosophen. Nur auf ganz wenige Soloabende im Jahr lässt sich Blechacz ein. Aber dann mit vollem Herzen und blitzwachem Geist - wie nun auch in Berlin.

Chopin, Chopin und noch mal Chopin hat Blechacz im Gepäck. Vor der geradlinig stürmenden g-Moll-Ballade op. 23 zu Beginn gönnt sich der Pianist eine ausgedehnte Meditationspause. Zwischen den Stücken zückt er ein weißes Taschentuch, um das Elfenbein vom eigenen Fingerschweiß zu befreien. Noble Eleganz und feinste Motorik durchblitzen Chopins Walzer op. 34 Nr. 1 und Nr. 3. Das h-Moll-Scherzo op. 20 gerät zur streng abgezirkelten Raserei. Blechacz übt sich in eiserner Selbstdisziplin. Er verblüfft immer wieder mit neuen Klangschattierungen. Am berührendsten: der berühmte a-Moll-Walzer op. 34 Nr. 2, von Blechacz mit entzückenden Pianissimo-Schleiern geadelt.

Blechacz bietet einen Chopin ohne fiebrige Neurosen, ohne depressive Schübe. Er zeigt einen Chopin, der auf der sonnigen Seite des Lebens steht. Hat man diese Kleinode jemals so delikat, so klangsinnlich, so formvollendet, so freizügig gehört? Wenn ja, dann nur von den bedeutendsten Vertretern der Chopin-Zunft - von Arthur Rubinstein, Martha Argerich, Grigory Sokolov oder Evgeny Kissin. Und dass Blechacz dazugehört, stellt er an diesem Abend unter klingenden Beweis.