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Feb 26, 2011

The great Bs: Blechacz--will play Beethoven with/in P (Salle Pleyel with Orchetre de Paris, Paavo Järvi)

Badische Zeitung, German newspaper based in Freiburg, posted on Feb. 26 an article titled “From A: Argerich to Z: Zimerman”, 
listing a highly-recommended high-lights of Chopin’s recordings,
picking historically important recordings by such piano masters as Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubinstein, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Dinu Lipatti, Alfred Cortot, Josef Hofmann, Maurizio Pollini, Murray Perahia, Juana Zayas, Robert Casadesus, Arthur Schoonderwoerd, Rafał Blechacz (for Preludes and Piano Concertos), Martha Argerich, Adam Harasiewicz.  (Zimerman is mentioned as a part of the complete box of Chopin works by Deutsche Grammophon.)

What pleased me is that Badische Zeitung uses the photo of Rafal Blechacz’s recording of Concertos for looking back over 100 years of Chopin’s representative recordings♪




The great Bs: Rafał Blechacz will perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 @Salle Pleyel with Orchestre de Paris, Paavo Järvi on March 16 and 17, consecutively.




Feb 23, 2011

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital @Folly Theater, Kansas City, Feb. 18, 2011

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital @Folly Theater, Kansas City, Feb. 18, written by Christopher Levin for KCMetropolis.org.

Read the review titled, "Blechacz dazzles with Mozart and Chopin"
"...The final moments had the audience on the edge of their seats..."

****
A storm of reviews.  Lucky this is North American tour and everything is in English!!
****
Blechacz's interview with the Polish Times for which I posted English summary several days ago is now available on line. (Polish)

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in San Francisco (2)

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in San Francisco, written by Theodora Martin, posted on Peninsula Reviews.

Read the review.

A big applause of appreciation to the great pianist!


On Feb. 22, Rafał Blechacz ended his North American tour of 2011 with the special Chopin program in Edomonton, Canada.

"After first part (Concerto No. 1) half of the house rose to applaud, after the 2nd part the entire house was on standing ovation clapping. Rafał was bowing and accepting Bravos and was coming out from backstage several times."
(R.F.)



From FB Blechacz link:
"Many, many thanks for your concert in Edmonton last night. Your interpretation of Chopin is unlike anything I've heard before and this performance was positively sublime. I hope we see you in Canada again. :)"

"Thank you for playing in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada."(Polish Culture Society, Edmonton)

Click photo to see other photos.


From Polskieradio Canada.
pictures of Chopin's concerto and recital are viewable.

(Thanks to Konstancja for the info.)

Polonia w Calgary
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Rafał is a phenomenon- - a fan's view in San Francisco

A fan’s review of Rafał Blechacz’s recital on Feb. 20.  The author is Sandrine Georges who came all the way from Seattle to San Francisco to attend the recital.  Big thanks to Sandrine for the visualizing and engaging description of the beautiful day of the recital.  She now sincerely wishes to have Rafał's live concert again in Seattle in the near future.

****
Rafał is a phenomenologist. The word begs for the easy translation into ‘studier of phenomena.’ But its more secret meaning is harder to get at. As a phenomenologist, one searches for the essence of Being. It seems like a grandiose notion, but Rafał makes it as simple and beautiful as listening to music.


The Herbst Theater is bedecked with beaux-arts murals, blue molded ceilings, and a red curtain, gold tasseled and fringed. Fine-looking as they are, those details faded into an ambient haze as the performer entered the stage. Returning to the San Franciscan theater after three years, he was greeted eagerly by an audience that recognized his talent.

If some audience members were unfamiliar with his music, they left satisfied by the end, joining the lengthy line to procure an autograph and congratulate the artist on what seemed to be a too-short recital, even with two generous encores.

Opening with characteristically convivial Mozart (K. 264), Rafał ushered in each of the 9 Variations of Lison dormait with the suggestive phrasing, pregnant pauses, and clear tone that distinguish his pianistic style.

The intimacy of the small theater certainly complemented the technical side of his playing, allowing the sound that he intended to be clearly heard. From this, he delineated the form of the music explicitly, bringing out the connection of motif to motif, especially in the Szymanowski sonata (Op. 8) in which he expertly teased out each of the contrapuntal voices that concluded the final movement.

The second half of the show was devoted to Chopin, a proven strength for Rafał. Ever the champion, he did not disappoint. As diverse as the first part of the program, and correspondingly structured, Rafał played through the polonaises of opus 26 and the mazurkas of op 41 between two ballades (Op. 23 No. 1 and Op. 38 No. 2, respectively). The varied styles, in musical era and emotional tenor, displayed throughout the performance were enriching as well as thought provoking.

Why would Szymanowski include a whirl-wind minuet and fugue in his modern-expressionist composition? And why did Rafał choose to contrast this work with the atmospheric L’isle joyeuse of Debussy?

The musical questions were responded to by thunderous applause amidst numerous standing ovations. Rafał rewarded the audience’s answer with two captivating encores: a fresh Op. Posth. No. 20 by Chopin that didn’t drag and a genuinely laugh-inducing scherzo from Beethoven’s sonata Op. 2 No. 2.

Eminently enjoyable, his artistry is subtly evocative in a way that leads the audience easily from note to note across a wide-ranging sonic palate. Rafał is a phenomenon.


San Jose, May 4, 2008
N.B. Certain things that occurred during this particular performance included the intrusive applause after the first movement of the Szymanowski which Rafał handled with a quick bow, a smile, and more tightly woven transitions thereafter to dispel any confusion. Two bouquets of flowers were presented to the artist, one of them by me on behalf of Chamber Music San Francisco.
Made me so nervous. But what could be more thrilling?  Perhaps the autograph he signed on my sheet music for Chopin's cello sonata. Makes me want to practice. Blechacz for the win!

****
I remember it happened in my country last year when a big applause occurred after the first waltz of Chopin’s op. 34 and Rafał stood up and bowed charmingly.


Feb 22, 2011

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in San Francisco

"Hall of Joy", a review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in San Francisco written by Ken Iisaka, posted on sfcv.org.

Original review.

I tried to excerpt points of importance but as I read it I found it difficult because what he writes is all relevant, so I abandoned the effort to shorten it.

(quote)
…the seldom-heard Nine Variations on ‘Lison Dormait,’ by Mozart. With his clear tone and light touch, he created a soundscape more reminiscent of the period instrument than the nine-foot Hamburg Steinway that occupied the stage. Never overwhelming or harsh, the joyous atmosphere he conveyed, enhanced with the deft use of his pedaling left foot for contrasts, was transparent and shimmering. His right-hand trills accompanying the left hand in the 4th and 8th variations were flawlessly delivered and brought on mental giggles. It was the perfect amuse-bouche for the sunny afternoon.


L’Embarquement pour Cythère, Watteau
…Debussy’s L’Isle joyeuse. The pianist’s clarity of tone carried into this piece, …his colors were vibrant, almost Gauguinlike, though the “Isle” was the Isle of Jersey, and the painting that inspired Debussy was an 18th-century painting, L’Embarquement pour Cythère, by Watteau. While delivered with much richness, the triumphant ending was a bit too polite, … The climax would have benefitted from uncontrollable ecstasy by pulling out all the figurative stops and letting the entire instrument ring full of overtones.

…Szymanowski’s Sonata No. 1 …Blechacz played the first movement with absolute meticulousness, with hardly a note in the wrong place. Yet it again sounded somewhat restrained and cool… It was more Michelangeli than Argerich.

Still, the following movements were full of humor and sweet textures, particularly in the lovely, music-box–like Menuet movement. Then the intense fugal section of the final movement cut through the air decisively. The waves of long crescendos in the last five or so pages of the score kept growing and growing like a giant tsunami, bringing the music to a gargantuan finish.

After intermission, Blechacz presented an all-Chopin program…The opening octave C of the first Ballade made a statement on its own. Indulgent yet majestic, it seemed to have stopped the rotation of the Earth. Then, the music metamorphosed from the opening key of A-flat major into G-minor like magic, but deliberately. It was clearly evident here that Blechacz was in utmost control of every aspect of the music. The flighty right-hand parts were executed with utmost control and dexterity, and the music breathed so longingly with life. The subtle wavering of the rhythm brought out the yearning and the wistfulness in the poetry. Such masterful control of every aspect of the music, in turn, brought out freedom and jubilance, in its own paradoxical way.

The two Polonaises, Opus 26, were presented with similar determinations and loving care, as well. Vibrant colors bloomed and the joyous lyrical lines were limned with flair, and the drama and passionate nationalism were barely contained within the notes. The four Mazurkas, Opus 41, were played with intimacy and much tender love. Blechacz painted the pastoral scenes and intimate circle of villagers with intricate details, creating a soundscape that transported us back to the time when the mazurka became a sensation throughout Europe.

Chopin’s stormy and bipolar Ballade No. 2 concluded the recital. By then, the entire audience seemed completely captivated and transfigured. The peaceful first theme brought us calmness, but the tempestuous second theme was unleashed with much force and drama, again with calculated measurement, reminiscent of the late, great Arthur Rubinstein.

Here, we were witnessing an emerging titan. Rafal Blechacz’ mastery of Chopin’s music is impeccable, and he was certainly worthy of the honor he received in Warsaw in 2005…

At the recital’s conclusion, most of the elated audience rose to their feet and were rewarded with two encores: Chopin Nocturne, No. 20 in C-sharp Minor, and the scherzo movement from Beethoven’s second sonata, Opus 2, No. 2.
(unquote)

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Feb 21, 2011

The excellent recital in San Franciscio

"Director of the Chamber Music San Francisco Daniel Levenstein introduced Rafal tonight as one of the finest painists on the planet. Rafal played beuatifully and Szmanowski's Sonata made a big impression. Also Chopin's. Big applaus and shouting Bravo Bravo. Rafal played two erncores: Nocturne op. postumous and Beethven's Scherzo from the Sonata."
(R.F.)

Feb 19, 2011

Unforgettable recital in Kansas City

"Rafał just finished his recital in Kansas City. All the program he played excellently. A beautiful performance and a beautiful music. Big standing ovation at the end and one encore".
(R.F.)


From Facebook Blechacz link:
" Lovely concert here in Kansas City. Your playing reminds me of Vladimir Horowitz whose concerts I heard in New York at Carnegie Hall years and years ago. I've never thought anyone played better than Horowitz until I heard you tonight. Thank you".

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.

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


Feb 17, 2011

From Kansas City's Online Journal of the Performing Arts, Feb. 16

(Quote)
If piano music is your forte, you can enjoy two young superstars: Rafał Blechacz with the Friends of Chamber Music, ...

The Friends of Chamber Music
Rafał Blechacz, pianist
Thursday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m.
Folly Theater
12th St and Central Ave, Kansas City, MO
For tickets, call 816-561-9999
or order online at www.chambermusic.org.
Rafał Blechacz
Twenty-five-year-old Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz plays the music of Chopin, Debussy, and Szymanowski in this Master Pianists Series recital under the sponsorship of the Friends of Chamber Music. Blechacz, one of today’s rising stars, took First Prize at the prestigious 2005 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Since then he has performed at the Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, with the Berliner Philharmonie, the Herkulessaal in Munich, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt/Main, the Liederhalle in Stuttgart, at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Tonhalle in Zurich, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and Avery Fisher Hall in New York, among others. He is an annual guest at the Salzburg Festival and several other music festivals in Europe.

He has recorded three classical best–selling albums with Deutsche Gramophon, one of the few young artists sponsored by that label. This recital is his Kansas City debut. (Unquote)

Feb 16, 2011

Polish times, 16th of February


Unforgettable RAFAŁ BLECHACZ 
Glorious evening of Rafał Blechacz's virtuosity


Availability of the article is now being checked.

From Chamber Music San Francisco

Michael Zwiebach writes for sfcv.org today.

February 20, 2011
Rafał Blechacz

"Don't miss Rafał Blechacz's recital for Chamber Music San Francisco, if you like good pianism.

Winner of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Blechacz is playing two of Chopin's Ballades here, but also Debussy's L'Isle Joyeuse.

Since his last visit, in 2008, he's won three more awards, recorded three albums for DG, and wowed audiences in major venues, receiving rave reviews. He's major."

Feb 14, 2011

Listeners' voices of Blechacz's playing Chopin Concerto with chamber arrangement, Feb.13

Very good performance tonight by Rafał of piano Concerto No. 1 in chamber version. The quartet was doing everything to accompany Rafał and did it quite successfully. The audience of Rackham Auditorium was very generous in their applause and right after Rafał finished playing the last note the standing ovation erupted!  He played for the encore Chopin’s Nocturne, op. posthumous.
(R.F.)


***From UMS Lobby website****

"...And Rafal Blechacz is taking a liking to Ann Arbor: he no longer rushed the way he did on Friday. Once again, his technical mastery aside, he played lovingly, melodiously, and naturally, that is, without the mannerisms popular today. He is a wonder! And one looks forward to hearing him again and again." 

"What a wonderful performance of the Chopin piano concerto. it’s not often to have the opportunity to hear it with piano and strings. there are some recordings with that arrangement but very few. i loved it. magnificent job! and the nocturne encore was just beautiful".

"Spectacular concert. Bring all of them back next year!"

"What a great concert! I was blown away by the Chopin concerto and loved hearing the Schoenberg as well–what a beautiful program. Mr. Blechacz played Chopin’s Nocturne No. 20 in c-sharp minor as an encore."


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

Two more recitals in US

Feb. 18 @Folly Theater, Kansas city
Feb. 20 @Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

Only 20 seats remaining for Edmonton Chopin concert on Feb. 22.

Alert!!
Salle Pleyel, Paris, March 17th, available seat type/number is limited. Hurry up!
(Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4 with Orchestre de Paris, directed by Paavo Järvi)

Feb 12, 2011

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital @Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital @Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan on Feb. 11,
written by Susan Isaacs Nisbett for Annarbor.com, posted on Feb. 12.

Read the review from here.


(excerpt)
…Mozart that opened the program — the highly virtuosic Nine Variations in C Major on “Lison dormait,” K. 264; fast tempi were a hallmark of the evening. But he spoke clearly — occasionally there was a hole where a syllable seemed to get swallowed — and in pearly tones. His speech had balance and humor and dazzle equal to the musical writing. The playing was both effervescent and evanescent.

…Debussy’s “L’isle joyeuse,” was also notable for its clarity…his playing was wonderfully stereophonic, projecting the music’s many layers while never neglecting to direct the ear to the main event…there is brightness in his playing…brightness that from rhythmic vitality and flexibility — immeasurable assets that he used compellingly throughout the evening, with naturalness and taste combined.

In the Szymanowski, the least familiar of the works on the bill, for example, the listener could appreciate Blechacz’s utter clarity about where the interest was — who had the tune — in the complex outer movements. He was as good a guide in the inner movements — the plush Adagio and the graceful, lightly plucked Minuetto.

Chopin… the straightforward way Blechacz had of moving through a line, simplicity at its best. The directness of his playing was admirable, and so, too, was his rhythmic acuity and nuance, his sensitivity to the hierarchy of the beats.
In the first Ballade, the five-note upbeat to the first theme sounded natural in a way it rarely does…In the polonaises, Blechacz brought out inner lines and melodies; the second of the two, the e-flat minor, was stunning for the way in which Blechacz reconciled its upright carriage and its nightmare whirl. Blechacz showed that the Op. 41 mazurkas, though miniatures, are worlds in themselves, vistas that expand and fold in on themselves in no time at all. He closed with a powerful performance of the second Ballade, letting the piano ring with Chopin’s torrents and cascades before clearing the pedal for the final notes. It was a master touch. Stay tuned for more to come.
(end of excerpt)


**************
"I loved the recital and was impressed with Blechacz’s ability to handle the passages requiring muscular playing, without sacrificing lyricism and delicacy when that’s what the music called for. He was able to play the Szymanowski sonata in a way that held my interest throughout, and I’m not sure that would have been the case with another pianist. The Chopin was consistently beautiful and just sounded right: more youthful than many of the well-known recordings by other pianists, but never idiosyncratic"

"Thank you UMS for bringing this talented pianist to Ann Arbor. I enjoyed last night’s beautiful and ambitious program and like the previous commenters, I look forward to following Mr. Blechacz’s development as an artist".

"Fabulous performance…what a wonder it was to watch him and to hear the results of his keyboard artistry. Hope he returns soon!"


"My husband and I enjoyed the concert immensely. It was beautiful and engaging and I felt refreshed at the end — an unual feeling, late on a Friday evening in February! We look forward to more UMS appearences by Mr. Blechacz in the years to come. He should only get better!"

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His music touched hearts of the big audience- - Rafał Blechacz in Ann Arbor

Rafał just finished his recital in Ann Arbor, Mich. at Hill Auditorium of the University of Michigan.
He played beautifully and the audience could not have enough!
They kept clapping standing in the rows.
This huge hall has a very good acoustics and after the concert the audience stood up and gave a big round of Bravos for Rafał.

Rafał responded thankfully with an encore: Scherzo from Beethoven's piano sonata op2-2.

This huge concert hall was almost full.
The organizers said that such an applause was rare even though in this hall prominent musicians played before (Radu Lupu last month).
(R.F.)

Preview of Ann Arbor concerts and interview from The Michigan Daily

Polish prodigy to play twice this weekend
The Michigan Daily
By: Joe Cadagin, Fine Arts Editor
Published February 9, 2011

Original article from The Michigan Daily

(Quote)
In late October 2005, every eye in the classical music world was turned toward Warsaw, Poland as the 15th International Chopin Competition — an event that has launched the careers of many young pianists — declared its winner. For the first time in 30 years, a Polish pianist received first prize. The winner, then 20-year-old Rafał Blechacz, impressed the judges to such an extent that no second prize was awarded. The up-and-coming virtuoso will take Ann Arbor by storm this weekend with a solo recital on Friday and a chamber concert on Sunday.

Born in the Polish town of Nakło nad Notecią, Blechacz began studying the piano at five years old. As a child, Blechacz gained a deep love of music from listening to organ music at church.

“I was very fascinated by organ music, and I wanted to be an organist — not a pianist,” Blechacz said in a recent phone interview with The Michigan Daily. “My memories from my childhood are connected with going to church and listening to the organ. But, of course, when I started piano lessons, I realized that this is the right instrument for me and I wanted to be a pianist.”

Blechacz is part of a longstanding tradition of Polish pianists that includes greats like Krystian Zimerman, Arthur Rubenstein and Frédéric Chopin, whose works made Blechacz’s name world-famous.

“Chopin is very close to me — one of my favorite composers,” Blechacz said. “Thanks to Chopin I can play all over the world, especially since my winning the Chopin Competition five years ago. And, of course, his music is very close to me — to my personality, I think. It’s full of emotions, a lot of interesting technical aspects and a lot of colors and shades of sound.”

Blechacz went on to say that being Chopin’s compatriot helped him interpret the composer’s Polish-influenced works, especially the mazurkas and polonaises. Yet Blechacz also pointed out that non-Poles have championed Chopin’s compositions.

“I must say that there are a lot of pianists who are not Polish, but they play Chopin’s music very well,” he said. “Martha Argerich is from Argentina and Maurizio Pollini is an Italian pianist. So they are not Polish, but their interpretation is absolutely great.”

For his UMS recital debut at Hill Auditorium on Friday, Blechacz has included four of Chopin’s works on the program. In addition, the pianist will join acclaimed string sextet Concertante this Sunday at Rackham Auditorium for a chamber performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The pianist said Sunday’s concert will mark his first collaboration with Concertante and also his first performance of the chamber version of Chopin’s concerto.

Blechacz has also helped to revitalize interest in lesser-known Polish composer Karol Szymanowski. Born in 1882, Szymanowski found inspiration in Polish folk music and the works of Chopin. Before his death in 1937, Szymanowski produced a large body of work that included four symphonies and two violin concertos.

“Unfortunately, his pieces are not so popular (worldwide) and not so popular in Europe — not even in Poland,” Blechacz said. “So I’m happy that I can play his music during recitals around the world.”

Last month, Blechacz recorded two of Szymanowski’s works, including the composer’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in C minor, which he plans to play at Friday’s recital.

“It’s a very big piece in four movements,” Blechacz said. “There’s a lot of expression in this piece — a lot of beautiful melodies, a lot of interesting harmony and wonderful modulations. So I think that the audience will love this piece.”

Besides recording and performing, Blechacz finds time to fit in university classes in his home country.

“I started to study philosophy of music at Copernicus University,” he said. “I’m very interested in the aesthetics and philosophy of music … Of course this isn't a regular study with regular lessons, because it's not possible when I travel a lot.
But between my concerts, I can do it.”

At this early stage in Blechacz's blossoming career, Ann Arbor audiences will have a unique opportunity to witness an emerging classical music superstar. As a young Pole, Blechacz has helped to spread the music of his homeland to a wider audience. Who says that the only things that come from Poland are pierogies and polka?
(Unquote)


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

Feb 10, 2011

From Poland with love--Chopin and Szymanowski for Ann Arbor


(Quote)
“Five years ago, I wanted to record all of mazurkas (by Chopin),” he said, “but I feel it’s impossible. Sometimes in concert, I play faster and slower, depending on the acoustics, the instrument and the audience.
In the studio, it’s hard to choose the right version for the recording.” 

So we are lucky to hear a set of these, from Op. 41, in Blechacz’s recital Friday.
Blechacz said he paired the Debussy on the bill — “L’isle joyeuse” — with Szymanowski (the Sonata No. 1) because he wanted “to show the contrast between impressionism and expressionism can be interesting for the audience and the people.”

“The two composers are completely different,” he added. “Szymanowski is not so popular in the U.S. and in Europe, even not so much in my country. When I was 12, maybe 11, I attended a concert where I heard his music, and I was delighted by it. After the Chopin win, I played the Variations Op. 3 in b-flat minor quite often in recitals, and the audience liked this piece very much. They were very enthusiastic. I decided to record it for Deutsche Grammophon and to play his music during my concerts. The c minor sonata is a big piece, four movements, a lot of expression and contrasts, lots of combinations of sounds, and nice melodies. The harmonies are very interesting, the modulations especially.”


(About playing Chopin's concerto in a chamber version, he says),
“But I know this version because I have a lot of recordings,” he said. “I am very interested in the chamber version. And I love this concerto. I have wonderful memories of this concerto. I played it in the finals of the Chopin competition and I am excited to play it in the United States.”
(Unquote)


Mazurka op.56-3
His playing mazurkas is a true treasure

(Quote)
From Poland with love: tonight's guest soloist chose the bulk of his program from the works of two Polish composers: Frédéric Chopin and Karol Szymanowski. The former hardly needs an introduction but, despite an increased number of performances and recordings in recent years, the latter still hasn’t attained the level of international recognition that he deserves. It is a situation that is gradually changing, not least through the efforts of prominent young artists like Rafał Blechacz.
(Unquote)

Preview of the chamber concert written by the same author focused on Concertante


**
While the author of this interview got the pronunciation of Blechacz's name wrong,  a Pole rectified it in his comment and he concluded convincingly;

"Besides of all this pronouncing hassle - Rafał is really outstanding pianist and nobody, really nobody will have problem with his music "pronunciation". I'll try to be there driving from Kalamazoo despite of any weather troubles".


Feb 9, 2011

Rafal Blechaz at Sundin Hall for Chopin Society--by Star Tribune

On Feb. 8, Star Tribune posted an article of Rafal Blechacz's recital at Sundin Hall, St. Paul on Sunday.  (by Claude Peck)


"Sundin Hall at Hamline University in St. Paul was sold out Sunday for the Twin Cities debut of pianist Rafal Blechacz,  who played music of Mozart, Debussy (a glowing rendition of "L'ile Joyeuse"), Szymanowski and -- naturally for this Polish musician -- Chopin.

The wavy-haired 25-year-old, who looks even younger in person, received standing ovations for his fiery, even thunderous playing. The Chopin Society proved again that it can draw some of the biggest keyboard talents in the world to its programs. This time they netted the Gold Medal Winner of the 2005 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw...."

Read the full story from the Star Tribune website


Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina FB page also has a posting of the recital.


Feb 7, 2011

Excellent recital in St. Paul, Minnesota

"Good news! Rafał just ended his first recital on this American tour! It was at Sundin Hall of Hamline University in St. Paul., Minnesota. Big enthusiasm after the first part. Standing ovation and unending bravos! Then after the entire program, again a standing ovation and thunderous applause although the audience was not very large because of the size of the hall (350 seats only but added were the seats on stage).  But they delivered such a big applause as if it was much bigger. Rafał played one encore to thank for this extremely enthusiastic reception."
(R.F.)

Courtesy Mary Sigmond, who wrote;
"The concert was divine!  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!!"

“Rafał's concert was truly exceptional and his playing touched the hearts of everyone there. And what a genuinely nice person he is!  I hope we can enjoy the privilege of having him again someday. What a wonderful day this has been!”
(Mary Sigmond, President, The Frederic Chopin Society, Minnesota)

**You can see another beautiful pictures of the recital at Facebook link of The Frederic Chopin Society.  


Big bravos to our special pianist!

Also I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Mary and her colleagues for their wholehearted preparation to make this wonderful concert happen.

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Feb 6, 2011

Rafal Blechacz's interview + preview of his concerts at Ann Arbor

"Pianist Rafal Blechacz coming to Ann Arbor for Chopin and more",
a preview of his concerts plus his interview with Susan Isaacs Nisbett, posted on annarbor.com on Feb. 6, 2011.

Read the article.

Feb 3, 2011

Two TVP videos from Chopin 1810--2010

It's mainly for the readers outside of Europe.

From TVP Chopin 1810--2010 website,

Click♪to watch the video.

The Chopin Year begins in Rome and Stockholm
Rafał Blechacz interviewed
+ performing Chopin's Concerto in F minor (Orchestra Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, dir.Andrey Boreyko)

@Sala Santa Cecilia, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Feb. 2010.




Click♪to watch the video.

The winner--Rafał Blechacz
Announcement of 2005 Warsaw Competition, interview
+ Chopin Concerto in E minor







I posted the first video in Feb. last year but it was not viewable with my PC in Japan.  Now I can see it.

The second video,  I posted it  in Nov.2010 here but a comment informed me that it was not viewable in US.

Today, a friend of mine in US notified that she was able to watch these videos with a plug-in installed.  On the TVP website, she was prompted to use silverlight and got it.  Hope that you'll get the successful view, too.


Japanese

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