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Nov 11, 2011

A review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in Tonhalle Zürich by Neue Zürcher Zeitung

A review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in Tonhalle Zürich by Neue Zürcher Zeitung dated November 9.


Poetic virtuosity 

Rafał Blechacz in Tonhalle Zürich
by Jürg Huber

A warm-up piece, certainly. However, already the Variations "Lison dormait" KV 264 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart let the Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz flash his qualities: the perfect fluency and the ability to evoke feelings with lightweight hands. The Piano Sonata No.1 in C minor is weightier in the claim in which Karol Szymanowski exerts his whole proficiency at the beginning of his career as composer. Indeed the virtuoso should often beat the keyboard thunderously, which Blechacz did not disguise. However he shaped islands of contemplation in-between, gave the minuet bell-like sound and pointed out the impressionist traits, which are found especially in the introduction of the finale. Guided towards Szymanowski, in 1904, Claude Debussy also composed a piece "L'Isle Joyeuse," which Blechacz equipped with sparkling colors. The distinctive galloping rhythm in the second portion was in a way from a taste of the polonaise, which should follow after the break.

So Blechacz was at this Meisterinterpreten- Konzert in the Tonhalle Zurich arriving with his core repertoire: Frédéric Chopin. The Polish-French composer positions as godfather for his remarkable career, which the 26-year-old pianist can already show. Because the winning of the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 2005 had the gates to the great concert halls open for him and gave him a contract with Deutsche Grammophon. With good reason, as his Chopin playing proved. It is powerful, and fascinates simultaneously by smooth elegance, by coolheaded virtuosity, without neglecting deep contemplation. Especially impressive was the formation of the energy gradient in the two ballads, and Opus 23 proved him the master of subtle rubato at the same time. In the first of two polonaise, Opus 26, he revived the individual voices carefully, in B major portion of the second, he found very own poetry that flowed through the four Mazurkas Op 41.


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(Original German text)

Poetische Virtuosität 

Rafał Blechacz in der Tonhalle Zürich
Jürg Huber

Ein Aufwärmstück, gewiss. Doch schon in denVariationen über «Lison dormait»KV 264 vonWolfgang Amadeus Mozart liess der polnische Pianist Rafał Blechacz seine Qualitäten aufblitzen: eine perfekte Geläufigkeit und die Gabe, mit leichter Hand Stimmungen hervorzuzaubern. Gewichtiger im Anspruch ist die Klaviersonate Nr. 1 in c-Moll, in der Karol Szymanowski zu Beginn seiner Komponistenlaufbahn sein ganzes Können aufbietet. Zwar schlägt das Virtuose oft genug um in Tastendonner, was Blechacz nicht verheimlichte. Dazwischen aber gestaltete er Inseln der Einkehr, verlieh er dem Menuett glockenhellen Klang und strich er die impressionistischen Züge heraus, die besonders in der Introduktion des Finales zu finden sind. Zu Szymanowski hingeführt hatte Claude Debussys ebenfalls im Jahr 1904 komponiertes Stück «L’isle joyeuse», das Blechacz mit sprühenden Farben versah. Der ausgeprägt galoppierende Rhythmus im zweiten Teil gab gleichsam einen Vorgeschmack ab auf die Polonaisen, die nach der Pause folgen sollten.

Damit war Blechacz an diesem Meisterinterpreten- Konzert in der Zürcher Tonhalle bei seinem Kernrepertoire angekommen: Frédéric Chopin. Der polnisch-französische Komponist stand Pate für die beachtliche Karriere, die der 26-jährige Pianist bereits vorweisen kann. Denn der Gewinn des Warschauer Chopin-Wettbewerbes 2005 hat ihm die Tore zu den grossen Konzertsälen geöffnet und ihm einen Vertrag mit der Deutschen Grammophon beschert. Mit gutem Grund, wie sein Chopin- Spiel bewies. Es ist kraftvoll und besticht gleichzeitig durch geschmeidige Eleganz, ist von unaufgeregter Virtuosität, ohne das Grüblerische zu vernachlässigen. Besonders beeindruckte die Gestaltung des Energieverlaufs in den beiden Balladen op. 23, die ihn zugleich als Meister des subtilen Rubatospiels zeigten. In der ersten der beiden Polonaisen op. 26 belebte er die einzelnen Stimmen sorgsam; im H-Dur-Teil der zweiten fand er zu ganz eigener Poesie, die auch die vier Mazurken op. 41 durchströmte.

6 comments:

  1. Do-mo arigato, Akiko.
    Yesterday I've checked in vain a review about Blechacz's concert in this newspaper:-(
    Jürg Huber did a good job: Not many words, but precise and profound. I'm especially glad to read that Blechacz is the master of "Rubato", which is often overlooked by critics.

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  2. Dear lotus-eater-sama,
    Thank you for looking for Blechacz's review. Actually a reader sent to me a copy of the review. I would like to appreciate for such a help.

    Yes, the reviewer has a very good observation and description; effective without frills. Yes, his rubato is miraculous. No one beats him.

    If I remember it correctly, someone from this paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung was one of the judges of the International Award from Accademia Musicale Chigiana that Blechacz was awarded last year.

    Tschüs!

    PS Please let me know if I'm wrong in translation!!

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  3. It shows the quality of this paper. NZZ is one of the most infuential newspapers in German speaking countries. And it's writer Jürg Huber is well-known music critic. You know that not every music critic has an idea about piano music. Some just beat around the bush, which gets on my nerve. But we can rely on Huber's criticism. I also like the way he expresses himself.
    I wish Blechacz gives concerts in Zurich more often. Compare to Berlin or Paris, Zurich is very small, but quite influential in the music world. Economically musicians can make more money there.

    Ok, let me check if there's some missunderstanding in your translation.

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  4. Chapeau! It can't be better.

    Mr.Huber meant that in Szymanowski's, Blechacz often beated the keyboard too hard. I remember that Blechacz didn't do it in the small hall of Schwetzingen. You see, the Tonhalle is much bigger and the pianist should exaggerate a bit. Also Szymanowski is more masculine than Chopin.

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  5. About translation;
    Oh thank you for the endorsement. I'm relieved...

    About playing strong for Szymanowski;
    I understand what you mean about beating the keyboard hard in a bigger hall. I feel it when Blechacz play here in Japan in relatively bigger halls (2000-2500 seats) and sometimes I need to adjust my ears.

    About Zürich;
    It's a good place for artists! I also hope that Blechacz will perform there often. So far he played in Tonhalle four times: Sept.06, Chopin's concerto, March 08, March 10 and Nov.7 11 for recitals. There is a plan to work with Tonhalle orchestra and Zinman in 2013. Blechacz often praises the excellent acoustics of Tonhalle.

    About Jürg Huber and Neue Zürcher Zeitung;
    Thank you for the good information about Mr. Huber and the paper. Now I found that Mr. Huber wrote reviews of Blechacz's album "sonatas of classical composers" and his performance in Tonhalle in 2006, on DG and Klassik Akzente sites. Maybe there are more.

    http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/special/buy.htms?ID=blechacz-sonatas (click "press").

    http://www.klassikakzente.de/aktuell/artikeldetail/article/69453/rafal-blechacz-pressestimmen-2006/

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  6. And this is Mr.Huber's review of Blechacz's recital in March 2008.

    http://www.nzz.ch/nachrichten/kultur/aktuell/ausdruck_und_klangrede_1.686415.html

    ReplyDelete

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