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Dec 29, 2011

Polish media introduces the new album of Blechacz

Rzeczpospolita, a major national daily in Poland, introduces Rafał Blechacz's new album "DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI" on its website on Dec. 29.

Rzeczpospolita website

"Another face of Rafał Blechacz"
 (Rough summary of the article written by Jacek Marczyński).
Rafał Blechacz’s new album scheduled to be released from Deutsche Grammophon on February 1, 2012 will be a surprise for those who regard Blechacz as Chopin’s expert. The world’s best label, which had an exclusive contract with Blechacz in 2006 just after his brilliant victory in the Chopin Competition and extended the contract after releasing two albums by Blechacz, has produced three of his albums, which sold 160 thousand copies worldwide...

(then the author describes DG's engagement with other artists such as Krystian Zimerman to reiterate that its contract with Blechacz is beneficial to the label.)

 .....Now the time has come for Blechacz to cease to be seen as a specialist of Chopin’s music and to change the image. The new album consists of works by Karol Szymanowski and Claude Debussy with which Blechacz seeks the opportunity to present the wealth of colors and moods of music. It is worth recalling that he had already performed the music by these two composers for long years even before the Chopin competition in 2005. If you are interested in how he interpret them now, you need to wait until Feb.  For now please visit DG’s website.

Dec 27, 2011

Congrats and thanks to our Pianist

To recap this year, the blog posts that were accessed most for the past year were:

1 Rafał Blechacz talks about music interpretation (video).
(Philosophical discussion at his university.  Yes he is a philosopher. →related interview)

2 Birthday wishes to our beloved pianist.

3 Rafał Blechacz comes to US and Canada and
   Blechacz to perform Chopin's Concerto with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Oct 26 /interviewed by BBC3


Courtesy Torun's festival of
Science and Arts website
Looks like fans want to hear his interpretation either by performance or voice (though not many of them understand in Polish), and thank him for the beautiful music and experience.

I'm pleased to see increased accesses from Americas and other new countries.


I manage Japanese blog too and the trend of readers' favorite is similar, except that in Japanese blog, the most accessed post was;

Special album "In Solidarity with Japan" to be launched in Poland
with by far the biggest traffic.
The charity album was compiled in Poland with performances by outstanding Polish Chopin players (Blechacz, Zimerman, etc...), intended for benefiting the children hit by the quake/tsunami in Japan in March.  Japanese people were very much grateful to the country of Chopin for extending helping hand with the special Chopin's album.

******
Reesendamm Strasse, Hamburg
Courtesy Deutsche Grammophon
In January, Rafał Blechacz had a recording session for the new album of Debussy and Szymanowski at Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, Hamburg.

In the following month, he began to give live concerts, first from America.

☆program website
★review, news
♥ interview


Feb. 6 Recital @Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota  podcast
Feb.11 Recital @Hill Auditorium, Michigan
Feb.13 Chopin Concerto No.1 with Concertante (a string sextet) @Rackham Auditorium, Michigan  
Feb.18 Recital @Folly Theater, Kansas City
Feb.20 Recital @ @Herbst Theatre, SF
Feb.22 Recital and Chopin Concerto No.1 @ Winspear Centre, Edmonton 

March 16, 17 Beethoven Concerto No.4 with Orchetre de Paris conducted by Paavo Järvi @ Salle Pleyel, Paris

March 20 Recital @Casa de Cordón, Burgos, Spain 
March 22 Recital @ Auditorio Nacional de Musica, Madrid 

March 25 Recital @Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Italy 
March 28 Recital @Musica Insieme, Bologna press release

April 7 Recital @Haus-Konzerte, Berlin  press release 

May 25 Recital for Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele @Rokokotheater

June 7 Recital @Salle Pleyel, Paris
June 27 Recital a recital for Tivoli Festival @Koncertsalen, Copenhagen

Sept.15 Concerto No.2 by Liszt with Orchestre National de Belgique Conductor: Antoni Wit @Palais des Beaux-Arts / Salle Henry Le Bœuf

Oct. 7 Recital @Kloster Polling, Bibliotheksaal, Weilheim
Oct. 8 Recital @Prinzregententheater, Munich  interview (podcast) is available on iTunes store (please search by "Blechacz").

Oct.14 Recital @ Konzerthaus Dortmund
Oct.17 Recital @Kammermusiksaal, Berlin


from BBC3, Oct. 25
Oct.26 Chopin Concerto No.2 with the London Symphony Orchestra under Jaap van Zwedenat @ Royal Festival Hall, London

Nov. 2 Recital @University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
Nov. 4 Recital @Victoria Hall, Geneva
Nov. 7 Recital @Tonhalle Zürich

Nov. 11 Chopin concerto No.2 with Sinfonia Varsovia, conductor: Grzegorz Nowak @Salle Pleyel, Paris



Plus,
In June, Rafał Blechacz was awarded The Medal for Merit to Culture - Gloria Artis by the Polish government.


June 22 at the Medal awarding ceremony
 by Polish Government

Congratulations to our Pianist.
May the new year bring many more opportunities to your way, to explore every joy of music.

We are grateful to be able to appreciate your interpretation of Debussy and Szymanowski early next year.



*****
In February, 2012, he will begin the new year's performance in Madrid and Rome with Beethoven's piano concerto No. 4.  He will perform the concerto in La Scala, Milan and Smetata Hall, Prague in May as well.

Here he talks about his thoughts on this concerto by Beethoven (video interview from Orchestre de Paris website, shot in March 2011.)

from Orchestre de Paris website



Dec 23, 2011

Review of Rafał Blechacz playing Chopin at Salle Pleyel (2)

Another review of the concert at Salle Pleyel, Paris, on November 11, when Rafał Blechacz played Chopin's concerto in F minor with Sinfonia Varsovia directed by Grzegorz Nowak.

Original review on Concertclassic.com
by Michel Le Naour

Again I'll post the part related to Chopin's concerto only.

(Excerpt)
At the head of the Sinfonia Varsovia (the group that he often directs), Nowak showed authority when conducting the Concert Overture by Szymanowski with accuracy, flame and impulsiveness, giving to the score written by the young composer heavily influenced by Richard Strauss all its own lyrical and passionate dimension.

The same spirit is manifested in the accompaniment of the Concerto No. 2 by Chopin, beautifully defended by the lofty and noble performance of Rafał Blechacz who, since his victory in the Competition in Warsaw in 2005, has refined the purified style of restrained lyricism close to that of Zimerman.

His encores are in the same vein: Polonaise “Heroic” implacable of vehemence and of rhythmic sense, and Mazurka in A minor op. 17 No. 4, subtle and of contained emotion. Of the great art!

Generalprobe @Salle Pleyel, Nov.11
Courtesy Piotr Iwicki


**france musique will broadcast this concert on January 11, 2012 14:00-15:56
france musique program (see Jan. 11)


Karol Szymanowski
Ouverture de concert opus 12
Frédéric Chopin
Concerto pour piano n° 2
Rafal Blechacz, piano
Félix Mendelssohn
Symphonie n° 4 "Italienne"
Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra
Direction : Grzegorz Nowak
Frédéric Chopin
Polonaise "Héroique" opus 53
Bis n°1
Rafal Blechacz, piano
Frédéric Chopin
Mazurka opus 17 n°4
Bis n°2
Rafal Blechacz, piano

Dec 22, 2011

Review of Rafał Blechacz playing Chopin at Salle Pleyel

This is a review of the concert at Salle Pleyel, Paris, on November 11, when Rafał Blechacz played Chopin's concerto in F minor with Sinfonia Varsovia directed by Grzegorz Nowak.

Original review on ConcertoNet.com
written by Didier van Moere


Let me pick up the 2nd half of the review where the author writes about Blechacz and Chopin's concerto.

(Excerpt)
The orchestra of the Second Concerto by Chopin, so often confined to a condescending accompaniment, was standing out in relief, where one recognized the hand of the master accustomed to the theater. The orchestra deserves the winner of the Chopin Competition in 2005, now twenty-six years, who has continued to mature and expand his repertoire. Here one remembers Rafał Blechacz’s CD led by Jerzy Semkow (see review by ConcertoNet.com), with Maestoso which the young pianist gave his proper weight, of freshness, clarity and precision recalling that Chopin diligently revisited his Bach and his Mozart. The performance remains yet very concentrated, doesn't have anything superficial; something reminding us of a certain Polish tradition, illustrated by Rubinstein or by Zimerman, as opposed to the fanciful liberties of Paderewski. This is how one should play the concertos of Chopin, without anticipating the great maturity. The Larghetto happily recalls the passion of the musician for the bel canto, with the right amount of dramatization in the recitativo in the middle part. The final Allegro vivace has the bouncing lightness of some mazurkas.

Superb Polonaise in A flat as first encore, notable by the mastery of the left hand in the persistence of the octaves, free of all patriotic exaltation, rendered the music as Szymanowski wanted it. Poetic Mazurka in A minor, finally, pure sound, without escalation in nostalgia.

Without doubt, Rafał Blechacz will be one of the great pianists of tomorrow.

Dec 21, 2011

Album release news (UK,etc...)

Release news from UK
Rafał Blechacz's new album "DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI" to be released in UK February 6.

PRESTO Classical
Crotchet UK
"Rafał Blechacz is one of DG’s best-selling young artists – his stunning albums have sold more than 160,000 units worldwide. Blechacz is by talent, proclivity, and nationality the perfect choice to record works by his fellow Pole, Szymanowski, and therefore to record Debussy, too – whose presence in Szymanowski’s musical DNA looms large.

Arguably the greatest Polish composer since Chopin, Szymanowski was also influenced by Ravel, Scriabin, and Strauss. For the first time on record Rafał Blechacz plays Szymanowski’s reverie-inducing music – a revelation to those unfamiliar with it. Debussy’s Impressionist soundscapes (also new to Rafał Blechacz’s discography) – including Pour le piano and Estampes – are also a natural fit for Blechacz with his Chopin expertise".


********
CD Wow.net will begin to ship the new CD on February 2.
It looks like this shop is servicing in main countries in America, Europe and Asia.
This is US page.
Germany   France   the Netherlands


********
Blechacz's official website updated its reviews page for 2011. (Polish only)

Interview in 2007 (3)


The interview (3) that Rafał Blechacz gave in April 2007 which was included in the program booklet of his 2007 Japan tour. Please note that this interview was carried out more than four years ago and therefore some of his remarks are not current.

Interview (1)
Interview (2)


Impression of Japan
I've toured in Japan three times after participating in the Hamamatsu Competition. The time I spent there is the longest outside of Poland. This Japan tour (in 2007) is the fourth one and my fifth visit. I’m grateful for being able to play in these excellent concert halls for the nice and friendly audience. I feel very much relaxed when playing for you. I have an impression that the audience understands my interpretation fully and shows honest reactions. During my previous tour (in 2006), I had an opportunity to visit Kyoto and was deeply impressed by the historical city. It’s a great joy to visit such a city which gives me more knowledge of culture and history. It’s not easy to describe difference between Poland and Japan but it can be humorously compared to the differences between men and women. We are different but interested in each other. One example is food. What you eat is very different from what I eat daily in Poland. I’m very interested in trying various Japanese food. To be honest, I like some Japanese food; sushi and shabushabu, in particular.

About the repertoire of the recital for 2007 Japan tour
I played all Chopin program for my previous Japan tour (2006). So I decided to introduce works by other composers from my repertoire. Bach is the composer I was deeply fascinated, especially by his organ music, which became the catalyst for me to quest for music. Liszt offers virtuosic music. Debussy, I play for colors of music. I’ve performed works by Liszt and Debussy many times and their pieces have been included in my concert repertoire. If I want to explore style of a music work in-depth and in order to play Chopin’s music better, I need to enter deep into heritages from other composers. Playing Debussy’s works is a worthy challenge because it strongly requires building up coloristic traits in each single phrase. By playing pieces by Liszt, I can deepen understanding of technical skills and sounds. I entrust the audience and critics with any judgments of my interpretation. I’ll just do my best. (End of the interview)

Dec 16, 2011

Rafał Blechacz's new album (import version) will be sold by Tower Records Japan on Jan. 20

Tower Record Japan will release Rafał Blechacz's new album (import version) on Jan. 20, 2012.

Tower Records Japan
They began to accept pre-order.


"For the long-waited 4th album from Deutsche Grammophon, Rafał Blechacz, the perfect victor of the 2005 Chopin Competition, has recorded three pieces by Debussy, best-fit for the composer's 150th birthday.  2012 will celebrate the 150th anniversary of  Claude Debussy's birth, 130th anniversary of Karol Szymanowski's birth.....  In 1910, Szymanowski, Blechacz's compatriot, was awarded the first prize for his Piano Sonata No.1 in C minor in the Composers' Competition in Lemberg (L'viv) which was held on the occasion of Fryderyk Chopin's 100th birth year".  (excerpt from Tower Records album description).


★☆。.:*:・"゚★('-^v) congratulations (v^-')★。.:*:・"☆★

Dec 15, 2011

Rafał Blechacz's new album (import version) will be sold by HMV Japan on Jan. 31

HMV Japan will release Rafał Blechacz's new album "DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI" (import from Europe) on January 31, 2012.

HMV Japan website
HMV album description
They bagan accepting pre-order.

**HMV Japan delivers products to other countries.
delivery fees.



☆.。.:*・゚☆.。.:*・゚☆happy☆゚・*:.。.☆゚・*:.。.☆

Dec 13, 2011

You can hear some clips from Rafał Blechacz's new album (audio) (2)

You can hear some clips from Rafał Blechacz's new album on KlassiAkzente's updated website.

Claude Debussy
Pour le piano, Sarabande
L'Isle joyeuse

Karol Szymanowski 
Sonata in C minor, Tempo di Minuetto

Click picture to go to KlassikAkzente

Dec 12, 2011

Rafał Blechacz's new album "DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI" to be launched Feb. 15 (Japan)

Universal Classics Japan official website announced that Rafał Blechacz's new album "DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI" will be launched on Feb. 15, 2012 in Japan.


Click the picture to go to Universal Japan.


Universal Classics Japan
**Debbusy "clair de lune" will be added as a bonus track to the Japanese version.

**Tower Records and other Japanese vendors began accepting booking. **

**People are delighted that "clair de lune" is included according to some tweets.

Dec 10, 2011

Season's Greetings



***Click the picture to see the animation.





Dec 9, 2011

You can hear some clips from Rafał Blechacz's new album (audio)

You can hear some clips from Rafał Blechacz's new album "DEBUSSY, SZYMANOWSKI",

Click to hear music.

Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
Pour le piano, Prélude
Estampes, Pagodes

Karol Szymanowski (1882 - 1937)
Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor, Prelude
Sonata in C minor, Op.8, 1. Allegro moderato

*******
Decca Classics catalogue

Universal Music Germany


Dec 6, 2011

DEBUSSY, SZYMANOWSKI -RAFAŁ BLECHACZ (import version)

From amazon.com (US)

From amazon.ca  (Canada)

From amazon.de (Germany)
**I noticed that "import" was replaced by "Universal Austria"in the German album description. (Dec. 17)


From amazon.fr  (France)

From amazon.jp  (Japan)

The import version will be made available by Amazon in these countries on February 14, 2012.
Big present for St. Valentine's Day!

From amazon.uk  (UK)
The sale of import in UK is Feb.6.


(Thanks to Konstancja for the info.)

Dec 4, 2011

DEBUSSY, SZYMANOWSKI -RAFAŁ BLECHACZ (Poland)

Universal Music Poland
Release date: February 1, 2012

"Maestro"
In Poland, the international and Polish versions will be released.

Hi Fi Choice

RMF Classic

Dec 1, 2011

From "About the Album" , Rafał Blechacz DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI

From "About the Album" , Rafał Blechacz DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI
German and French texts are available from this page.


The Triumph of Sensibility 

Some of us can still recall a wet and windy autumn evening in Hamburg in 1984 when the world suddenly stood still – at least in the city’s Musikhalle, as it was called at that time. No one dared to breathe, so utterly remote from the world did we feel. Instead, the whole audience stared in astonishment at the performance onstage. For what we could hear was not just music, it was music by Debussy – Book Two of Les Préludes – and the man who was playing it was playing it so divinely that listeners inevitably felt they had been transported to the Arcadian Fields.

It was a miracle of a kind that rarely happens, and yet it was no miracle at all. For the pianist who held the world in the palm of his hand for this one brief moment in time was godlike in stature: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, a master magician. His appearances on the platform were always akin to an epiphany, especially when he was playing Chopin or Debussy. Then it was more than music. It was a spell cast over the listener’s soul.

It is entirely understandable, therefore, that Rafał Blechacz’s eyes light up when he speaks about this great artist, one of his favourite pianists, along with, among others, Alfred Cortot and Walter Gieseking. Michelangeli’s interpretations of Debussy offer the Polish artist an inspiration. This is clear not only from the translucent and almost transcendental way in which Blechacz interprets Estampes but also from the pianistic brilliance he brings to Pour le piano and from the iridescent colours of L’Isle joyeuse. Few pianists have ever been able to interpret Debussy’s musical language with such lucidity and at the same time in such virtuosic ways.


The young Polish pianist is not really interested in the ongoing musicological debate as to whether Debussy’s works are Impressionistic or not. For Rafał Blechacz, Debussy is unquestionably an Impressionist, but an Impressionist who has borrowed his structural virtues from Classicism and developed them a stage further. In short, Debussy was a composer who was fully aware of all that Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin had achieved but was able to translate all of this into the language of musical modernism. That is why Rafał Blechacz is able to describe Debussy as the king of colours.

If we stick to this image, it may not be presumptuous of us to describe Karol Szymanowski as the king of existential poetry. With the single exception of his compatriot Chopin, Szymanowski was unique in his ability to speak straight to the heart with his music. That was what he wanted. And there is no doubt that listeners are right to describe him as an Expressionist. Szymanowski’s musical language is filled with emotion, intuition and inspiration and with wit, voluptuousness and yearning. These were the qualities that struck Rafał Blechacz when, still little more than a child, he first heard Szymanowski’s music while at a recital by Jerzy Godziszewki, a teacher at the Bydgoszcz Academy where Blechacz was later to study. Godziszewski played several pieces by Szymanowski, among them Metopes and Masks, emotionally charged works full of sensual sonorities and remotely reminiscent of the mysticism of a composer like Scriabin but entirely distinctive in tone. The young Rafał Blechacz was fired up by a very real desire to enter this world, which he did by the circuitous route of the Variations op. 3.

Blechacz feels a tremendous affinity for Szymanowski, especially for a colossal work like the early C minor Sonata, which could be described as a continuation of Beethoven’s ideal of a free sonata form culminating in a fugue but using Expressionist means. The resultant work is a powerhouse of feelings not least because its monumental structure is combined with a range of sonorities extending from Classicism to Scriabin. Rafał Blechacz performs this music with a nobility and authority that are almost disturbing when we recall how young he is. But at the same time the listener can sense the degree to which his extensive work on Bach and the Viennese Classical composers has influenced his sense of form and sonority. Apparently contradictory elements come together here: youthful impetuosity and the greatest poetical sensitivity. One might think there could be no greater contradiction, but this is only superficially the case, for, as physics teaches, opposites attract – especially when they are combined with such enormous reserves of energy.

Jürgen Otten
11/2011