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Jun 30, 2011

Rafał Blechacz meets people of Bydgoszcz at his alma mater


(Quote)
Rafał Blechacz waits for residents of Bydgoszcz today

Today (June 30) Rafał Blechacz will answer questions from Bydgoszcz music lovers. He will also play for them a mini recital.

The winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition six years ago, a graduate from the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz in the piano class of Prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń will be at his alma mater before noon. For students and city residents, it will be a great opportunity not only to talk to him but also to give him birthday wishes. Today Blechacz turns 26 years old. The program of meeting him includes a mini recital by the pianist....The meeting with Rafał Blechacz begins at ten at the auditorium of the Academy of Music. Admission is free.
(Unquote)

Bydgoszcz GRA.fm (audio).


This is a preliminary report of the interview with Blechacz by MM Bydgoszcz.

(quote)
On his 26th birthday, Blechacz met with people of Bydgoszcz at the Academy of Music. After the interview he gave a mini recital.

Blechacz is the winner of the 15th International F.Chopin Piano Competition. Since then his career has gained momentum. Performing around the world.
Where is the best audience?
“I love playing everywhere. But probably the greatest fan club that I have is in Japan. When I arrive in Japan and have several concerts in different places, a big portion of fan club is everywhere,” said Blechacz.

Each guest was able to ask the Nakło-born artist. Many questions were about the ordinary, everyday life of Rafal Blechacz.
“Breakfast, piano book, piano ...,” joked the pianist.

There will be post of the interview in detail by Gazeta Pomorska.
(unquote)


Outline of the one-hour interview by Gazeta Bydgoszcz

(quote)
Blechacz celebrated his 26th birthday in Bydgoszcz. During the meeting with the inhabitants of the town for over an hour the pianist answered questions from music lovers.

Officials of the Music Academy greeted him with bouquet of roses and beautiful singing of “sto lat (a hundred years)”.
“When hearing it, I immediately felt that I was at the Academy of Music”, he said, thanking for their good wishes. He appeared at the university in the company of his family from Princeton, US and the members of Japanese fan club, who appear at his concerts around the world.

“His music is extraordinarily delicate and pure. We love to listen to, when he plays the piano,” said Kyoko Hanamura about Blechacz, who came to Bydgoszcz on the pianist's birthday especially from Yokohama.

In Bydgoszcz, however, he did not play anything – he just sat at the piano, posing for photos. But the curiosity of people in Bydgoszcz was satisfied. They were able to ask him questions today. He talked about his concert plans, studies in Torun and the newest album, which will soon hit the stores.
(unquote)



from Bydgoszcz Gazeta.pl










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)

**************************************
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)

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

Powerful Szymanowski--recital in Copenhagen by Rafał Blechacz

On June 27, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital for Tivoli Festival @Koncertsalen, Copenhagen, his last concert in the current season.

"Rafał gave a beautiful recital with an impressive and strong interpretation of Szymanowski. Huge applause after the first part with loud shouting of admiration and even whistling. By playing Chopin in the second part he took everybody by heart. After the last note of the Ballade played out there was this brief moment of suspension before the huge applause erupted and continued until a few minutes later the entire house rose and the standing ovation went on and on. Then Rafał played the 1st encore which was Chopin's waltz No. 2 op. 34. And then again a standing ovation and bouquets of flowers which Rafał responded to with a mazurka by Chopin. Great evening indeed!! There was a long queue to Rafał's room after the concert including the Polish ambassador".
(R. F)


You can download the program of the entire Tivoli Festival.
Blechacz appears on page 34.

Rafał Blechacz will begin his new season at Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels in September when he will play Concerto No.2 by Liszt with Orchestre National de Belgique, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birth.

Jun 26, 2011

Rafał Blechacz to give a Recital for Tivoli Festival

Rafał Blechacz will give a recital for Tivoli Festival @Koncertsalen, Copenhagen on June 27, 19:30.


Tivoli Festival program page

Announcement by Polish Embassy in Copenhagen
The recital is to inaugurate Polish presidency of the EU Council from July,1.

Promo article by Kopenhaga.pl (Polish)
Polish Radio 2 (Polish)
RMF classic


****
The secondary school in Nakło nad Notecią Blechacz graduated from marks the 135th anniversary.

Received Gloria Artis
Medal, June 22

Jun 22, 2011

Review of Rafal Blechacz's recital at Salle Pleyel, June 7, 2011

Original review (French) posted on altamusica.com, titled "Piano vivant", 
written by Gérard Mannoni.

The Living Piano
Recital organized by Présentation Piano 4 étoiles (Piano****) by André Furno

His merit already established as part of the young generation on the prestigious international concert circuit, Rafał Blechacz, champion at age 20 of the Warsaw Chopin competition, is in constant evolution as an artist. This recital confirms his strength of character and charming personality, one that evolves from year to year. It is the piano full of life, not just virtuosic. Fascinating.

For many decades, the concerts organized by André Furno have had a preeminent place in the musical landscape. In addition to the overall quality of the invited interpreters, the fidelities that have been created from the outset between the organizer and those who were most often his discoveries allowed us to follow the birth and evolution of many leading careers, those of pianists and other instrumentalists among the greatest of these times.

Also, every time a new name appears on a program of Piano****, there is surely anticipation for the beginning of a new adventure, a fresh narrative between the artist and us. This narrative can have ups and downs over the years, generally a lot more ups than downs, but it always has an exciting aspect that could turn out emotional.


Rafał Blechacz, who is now almost 26 years old, has taken his inevitable place in the new wave that is replacing slowly the older glories that have disappeared or become exceedingly rare nowadays. The recent concert that he gave confirms in his playing all the qualities that had earned him the prize at Warsaw while also revealing some weaknesses that still exist.

Unlike many of his contemporaries from the East, Blechacz is not a pianist of force. He is an artist of intuition and sensitivity. His technique is obviously sumptuous as has long been the standard for anyone who wants to attempt his international career, but it is more oriented towards the investigation of colors, towards fluidity, towards the subtlety of textural changes than towards the fireworks favored by the current superstars of the keyboard.

We notice along the way that with few exceptions, it is characteristic of the guests of Piano****program. Music comes first. As for Blechacz, this was sensed as he played the second piece on the program, l’Isle joyeuse of Debussy. Abundance of coloristic moiré, cheerful sparkling; Blechacz gives all his values to the sublime piano script. We admire the presentation so intelligent and sensitive with the keyboard.

On the other hand, with Nine Variations on Lison Dormait by Mozart that had preceded, the listeners were left a little wanting. While it is certainly not Mozart’s masterpiece, there is never an indifferent note intended by this unique and totally brilliant composer. We recognize he has this question of weakness, that Blechacz hasn’t found there all the keys (clés) that could stem from these pages when they are less evident. It might come.

And it came, in fact, even still in the first part of the concert with the Sonata in C minor op. 8 of Szymanowski, the composer who is now drawn a little out from relative obscurity due to the recent production of his King Roger at the Paris Opera. One of the piano writings, ample, rich, already turning towards the nascent twentieth century, it nevertheless needs to be defended, not being equal to the sonatas of Chopin to which it is often compared without nevertheless being a musical by-product of Chopin as is sometimes said.

The talent of Blechacz allowed him to precisely find out what can render the better justice to this inspired and sophisticated music, thanks especially to his miraculous touch, always soft and simmering.

The second part was dedicated to Chopin with the Ballades no. 1 and 2, two Polonaises among the less played (C sharp minor and E flat minor, op.26) but of greater interest when they are approached with Blechacz’s freshness of spirit, enthusiasm, and profound authenticity and four Mazurkas.

It was not the last one that fascinates most, missing a bit of imagination in the choice of tempi, accents. However, the two ballades are addressed in the romantic spirit closely associated with Chopin: internal upheaval, deep sensitivity all on edge, and irresistibly torrid anguish alternating with delicate lulls in vein.

With the piano that is personal, always transforming, he is an artist who we feel has many aspects of personality to reveal.
(End of review)

If you have a trouble in seeing the French text, try this link.  

(Acknowledgment: Sandrine Georges gave me a great help in the translation.  With appreciation to her kindness and her devotion to the artist.)


Jun 21, 2011

Rafał Blechacz honored by Gloria Artis Medal by the government of Poland

Rafał Blechacz will be awarded The Medal for Merit to Culture - Gloria Artis by the Polish government.  The Medal giving ceremony will be held on June 22 at the Ministry of Culture.



Report of the ceremony (release from Polish government)
mmbydgoszcz



(Excerpt) ".........Rafał Blechacz, pianist and the winter of the 15th International Chopin Competition, will be among the artists who will be honored on Wednesday by the Medal of "Gloria Artis".

The medals will be handed over by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski, according to the spokesperson to the minister.

Blechacz will be awarded with the Silver Medal of the "Gloria Artis".


Medal "for service to culture - Gloria Artis" is given to people especially prominent in the field of artistic, cultural activities or the protection of cultural and national heritage...."


Jun 20, 2011

Birthday wishes to our beloved pianist.

Rafał Blechacz will turn 26 on June 30!
Let's listen to a prelude of his very happy birthday!




Quite often I find it difficult to express the beauty of your music with words.
Now I find words aren't enough to express how much I appreciate you in my life.

You've brighten up my life with the music and filled it with joy.
And I'm not alone.
Remember that many people are glad you were born.

Prelude to happy birthday.
Happy Birthday, Rafał Blechacz.
Hoping your dreams come true year after year.













↓Words of celebration are presented in comment.

Jun 19, 2011

Recording of historic value

Another archive of magazine.
German magazine "Focus--Ausgezeichnet (Excellent)! 2010-2011" has pages for awardees of 2010 Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Prize of the German Record Critics).




You can browse the magazine from here. 

Turn a page and you'll see Rafał Blechacz, as the winner of classical category, for his legendary recording of Chopin's two concertos.

Click on PLAY DEMO above the photo of "Chopin The Piano Concerto" and you'll hear the 3rd movement of the concerto in F minor.
Lovely!!


(Quote)
"He is not only a virtuoso, he is also a poet," wrote Heinrich Heine on Chopin. In 1829 and 1830 when he composed his two piano concertos, he was just 20 years old.
175 years later, a congenial virtuoso and poet triumphed, also only twenty-year-old Pole Rafał Blechacz with the E minor concerto at the 2005 Warsaw Chopin Competition.

The recording of two works by Deutsche Grammophon benefited from the impressive Acoustics of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and its excellent orchestra. Blechacz’s playing, supported well by the conductor Jerzy Semkow, 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."

"On the 200th Anniversary of Chopin it gives me a very great pleasure to present his music…. I especially like the beautiful melodies, cantabile style, as well as the harmonies and modulations.
--Rafał Blechacz for Zeit"
(Unquote)

Original interview for Zeit (German)
Partial translation of the interview for Zeit (English)

About Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Prize of the German Record Critics).

Jun 13, 2011

Concert of inauguration (2)

issuu.com is a portal site of magazines/publications viewable on the net.  I searched the site by "blechacz" and a list of 91 publications appeared.  I wish I had time to browse them all but for now, this is the cover page of Auditorium, Feb. 2010.  The three piano masters (Blechacz, Zimerman and Pollini) were invited to Sala Santa Cecilia, Rome to celebrate the 2010 Chopin Year.  Rafał Blechacz gave inauguration concerto for the Chopin Year for four days in a row in Jan. and Feb.


Auditorium, Feb. 2010 (you can browse the magazine)

Jun 11, 2011

Concert of inauguration

Polish Embassy in Copenhagen posted a notification of the upcoming recital by Rafał Blechacz later this month.

Original post by the Polish Embassy

(Quote)
On June 27, in Copenhagen's Tivoli, a piano recital will be held by the outstanding Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, inaugurating the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The concert was organized by the Tivoli Festival in cooperation with the Polish Embassy in Copenhagen, capital city of Warsaw and Stołeczna Estrada.
(Unquote)
Blechacz’s bio follows.

(note: Poland will assume the presidency of the EU Council between July and December 2011.)

:** Poland joined the EU on May 1, 2004.  For celebrating the accession, Blechacz played Chopin's Polonaise op.53 in the official ceremony on the previous day.

Jun 8, 2011

Lasting ovation at Salle Pleyel

On June 7, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Salle Pleyel, Paris.  His 3rd appearance at this prestigious hall in the past year.



"Everything went beautifully well. Rafał played so nicely that the audience at Salle Pleyel couldn't stop clapping. He responded to this big ovation with two encores."
(R. Frackowski)





Blechacz will be back again to Salle Pleyel on November 11 to work with Sinfonia Varsovia, and on June 12, 2012 to give another recital.

Jun 3, 2011

Rafał Blechacz to be back to Salle Pleyel, June 7--concert preview (2)

Rafał Blechacz will give a recital at Salle Pleyel, Paris, on June 7.
Salle Pleyel program page has been renewed to post a short preview of the recital.

Salle Pleyel program page


Courtesy Toruński Festiwal Nauki i Sztuki 

 (Quote)
Rafał Blechacz may appear as a worthy heir to Zimerman or Pollini. Like his two older predecessors, he won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.

Like the former, he is Polish and gives to his pianistic playing the elegance and refinement which he makes marveling in the works of Chopin. As Pollini, he architects each classical work with dignity and mastery.

If his arrival in the musical landscape is recent, people already talk about Rafał Blechacz as a prince whose fingers perform miracle of the light in the works of Chopin or Mozart. If his previous recordings demonstrate his commitment to melodic and brilliant works, the intelligence of Blechacz will impose his visions more tormented in the Sonata No. 1 of his compatriot Szymanowski.
(Unquote)

Vienna ticket office (German)

*********
(About Szymanowski, quote from the interview Blechacz gave to The Michigan Daily, Feb. 2011)
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.”

Jun 1, 2011

Rafał Blechacz to be back to Salle Pleyel, June 7--concert preview

Rafał Blechacz will give a recital at Salle Pleyel, Paris, on June 7.
Le Figaro posted a recital preview written by Thierry Hilleriteau, as of May 31.

Original post by Le Figaro


(Quote)
The admiration that the nation of polonaise dedicates to him is matched only by his humility. Propelled at age of 20 on the front of the stage thanks to the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, where he won first prize and four special prizes, Rafał Blechacz has been categorized among the champions of the genre. Should we rush to compare him with someone, presenting him as a worthy heir to Zimerman or Pollini? Probably wrong. Because his luminous palette and intelligent speech are not limited to serving the Chopin Preludes (even if he has recorded a version of reference for Deutsche Grammophon). The present recital will give the evidence, backed by the Polish composer as a true way of the soldier, which will start with Mozart and complete with Szymanowski, after passing through the delights of Debussy's L'Isle joyeuse.
(Unquote)

Salle Pleyel program page

***********

The special album "Solidarni z Japonią" (In Solidarity with Japan), launched in Poland on April 8 to help Japanese children in quake/tsunami hit areas, has been supported by many in Poland and it remains at the first in OLiS, the official list of the highest selling music albums, on its latest OLiS data as of May 30.
Thank you Poland.

Actually, many people in Japan bought the album, too, via on line shopping, including many fans of Rafał Blechacz, although it is not easy for Japanese to buy something from Polish website. The accesses to the info of the album on my Japanese blog have been active and biggest in number.  (I really feel that people of my country love Chopin very much.)  HMV Japan now announced that it will begin selling this album in Japan on June 30.
"Oh, it's Rafał's birthday!", one of his fans commented.