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Feb 18, 2011

"Music is most important" - -Rafał Blechacz interview, US

Rafał Blechacz was interviewed by Sebastian Szczepański of the Polish Times in Detroit in relation to the concerts in Ann Arbor on 11th and 13th of February.
It's a brief summary.

Touching upon the recording of a new album last month in Hamburg where he recorded some works of Debussy and Szymanowski, including the pieces that he is playing during the US tour, Rafał Blechacz was then prompted to talk about how his music career began—it was the organ music of church that first attracted him and that he had a family piano,  his father loved playing piano and his grandpa played instruments were very facilitating. He talked about the music education he received in Bydgoszcz under Prof. Popowa-Zydroń, and the experience of a full-fledged international piano competition in Hamamatsu helping him explore the success strategy in the 2005 Warsaw Competition.  The result of the Competition was beyond his expectation and full of joy.  Relatively quickly, the contract with Deutsche Grammophon was concluded.

Asked if DG gives him a completely free hand and if he can record what he wants, he said;

“I must say they give me a high degree of freedom.  I was very pleasantly surprised when they agreed exactly on this fourth album that I recorded, so that I play works by Szymanowski. Szymanowski is obviously beautiful music, but unfortunately his works are still not so very well known in Europe; even in Poland the music is not so spread as it should be. The fact that they agreed that I could present his music and it would probably be a big plus in favor of Deutsche Grammophon suggests that they are open to different ideas and suggestions of repertoire.  And it is probably important, because then the artist feels free properly, which helps him work on and play well, in a way that he likes.”

Blechacz says that during concert tours, the schedule is too tight to explore beautiful cities where he gives concerts but in the past couple of years he occasionally set aside an additional day following the concert to have time to see some inspirational places in Rome, Venice or Vatican. (citing Sistine Chapel as an example) that he learned in history books.

In the 2010 Chopin year, Blechacz performed 45 concerts in the world, playing not only Chopin but Mozart and Bach whose music inspired Chopin a lot.  Why is Chopin music accepted enthusiastically by Koreans, Japanese and Chinese?  Maybe a melancholic aspect of some Chopin music such as nocturnes and mazurkas can touch their heartstrings, according to Blechacz's observation of Japanese.

He then appreciates his family for making everything for him to be concentrated on music; “Music has always been and is the most important “.  Usually his father accompanies him during tours to do administrative things; his entire family sometimes accompanies him when possible in Europe so he can avoid “loneliness” that artists tend to have after a recital, resetting him positively for the next concert.  In 2006, his family traveled in Japan when he performed 12 concerts nationwide.  Back home, he spends a lot of time alone in his house in the forest that he obtained about three years ago; playing the Steinway that he bought after the 2005 competition, whenever he wants without disturbed by anything, even late at night because there is no neighbor; walking around and running in the forests, a good physical exercise, which is important for his professional life.

Asked what kind of music he loves apart from Chopin, he mentioned Bach; as the composer he started music from and believes most close to him, as well as Mozart, Beethoven and Debussy, whose coloristic nature is important for Chopin music.  In the incoming recital in US, he wants to show an interesting contrast between Debussy and Szymanowski;  impressionism and expressionism.
To the interviewer's wish for recording Bach in the future,  his response was positive.

Image views of original article
(Courtesy Sebastian Szczepański/Roman Frackowski)

**The original interview (Polish) was made available on line on Feb. 24.


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