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Jun 28, 2011

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in Copenhagen, June 27

A review written by Christine Christiansen posted on kpn.dk (Danish)..


Chopin genius went to the keyboard in the Tivoli
Polish Rafał Blechacz interpreting Chopin's piano works with power and sensitivity in his solo recital in Tivoli.

The concert was made possible in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland and the city of Warsaw to celebrate Poland's takeover of the Presidency of the EU Council on 1st of July 2011.
When I heard last winter Polish Rafał Blechacz playing Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in Warsaw to mark the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth, he seemed remarkably shy in front of his audience.

But his interpretation of Chopin burned into the body and soul. Rarely have I heard a pianist shape the romantic composer's phrases so imaginative and free.
It was also Blechacz’s interpretation of Chopin, which stood as the most immediate and intense during his solo recital in Tivoli Concert Hall Monday. The 25-year-old Polish pianist dedicated the entire second part of the concert to his compatriot. First with the virtuosic Ballade No. 1, which Blechacz modeled forward on the keyboard in a seamless flow. The same with Chopin's Polonaise No. 1 and 2 - pushing forward with energy and freshness.

Curly hair
Blechacz with the wild, curly hair, the sunken eyes, and the large suit is a pianist who knows how to channel all his physical resources into the keyboard. The power of his touch was enormous, and it was fascinating to study his lofty position, the athletic arms and the strong, nimble fingers, which always came in Chopin's tightly woven, sonorous passages. The hands were so sweaty that Blechacz had to pull out a handkerchief and polish the keys down before he could move smoothly and elegantly through four more subdued mazurkas by Chopin. He rounded off the 2nd half for Chopin with Ballade No 2 where the cathedral was built up in a shower of sounds.

But the first part of the concert contained interesting moments. In Mozart's variations on the French ballad opera, Lison Dormait, Blechacz showed his sense of delicate nuances. The interpretation of the repeated echo effects sounded just a little too mechanical. Pastel colors of Debussy's "L'isle Joyeuse" were structured as a fragile thread in a frantic tempo. And then Blechacz should be commended for spreading an unfamiliar work like Sonata in C minor by Polish Szymanowski.
"It's entertaining in one way or another," a concertgoer characterized the sonata during the break.

Bombardment
The work contains echoes of both Chopin and Russian Scriabin. Especially the colorful final movement was a bombardment of styles and moods.

In 2005 Rafał Blechacz won everything there, winning the main and special awards at the prestigious Chopin piano competition in Poland.
It was the springboard to the international pianist career and the exclusive contract with the record company Deutsche Grammophon. Although he still seems shy and somewhat closed about himself on stage, he say all is his Chopin interpretations. Impressive.
(End of review)

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The description of how effectively Blechacz uses his physical strength to create the sound was interesting and reminded me of another review from SF in 2008.

 ".....Blechacz has fingers of steel and plenty of stamina, but more rewardingly, he has a distinctive point of view. His Chopin is a far cry from the droopy, speculative rhapsodist that so many pianists give us; in Blechacz's world, Chopin is a vigorous, forthright presence, ......"

".....If many pianists take a magician's approach to Chopin, full of elusive misdirection and surprising effects, Blechacz is more like a purveyor of vintage watches. He has these ingenious, almost miraculous devices in his case, and his technique is to crack each one open and show you how the gears and wheels operate".

(by Joshua Kosman, SF Chronicle Music Critic)

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Another review written by Thomas Michelsen (Danish)
and
The other review by Jacob Holm (Danish) (charged service)
I'll not translate them...

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