Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Feb 8, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's interviews (podcast) (Italy, March 2011 & Spain February 2012)

Here you have Rafał Blechacz's interview that he gave alongside with his recitals in Italy, posted on the Italian website of Rai.TV in April, 2011.

You can hear the interview from Rai.TV website (original English interview + Italian translation).

You can read English version of the interview below; Maria Pia reverse-translated it from Italian audio.  (Many thanks to MP♫)

We have the opportunity to discuss many important matters, both related to the activity of a young pianist that has become a famous artist all over the world, and to the way he's leading and developing his career. 

First of all, I must say that Chopin Competition, my winning, it was the key to making and develop the musical career, because after the victory I signed a contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and I knew that I would have record for an important label, and my interpretations would be listened all over the world. Naturally, this was really important for me; but even more, now, is to keep balance between playing concerts into great halls, studying new pieces, extending my repertoire for next seasons and recordings, and of course having time to do other things, as I need to find new inspiration in music, but not only through music. I've starting studying music philosophy two years ago at university in Poland, because I've always been interested in music philosophy, aesthetics, musicology, and I think it's a great help in interpretation and in finding a personal way in every piece that I play. At the moment I don't do more than forty concerts per one year. I play recitals and concerts with orchestra; I'd like to play more chamber music in the future, but now I'm focused on soloistic repertoire and I choose capital cities of the countries, but also sometimes I play concerts in smaller cities, it's also very nice to meet the audience in this kind of cities and play the music for them. 

How difficult it was to begin recording for a major label, after the sudden start of an international career after Chopin Competition? 

To work, to play in the studio and make recording it's a completely different situation than to be in the concert hall, it's a different atmosphere; in the studio I can only see microphones and the instrument, it's more difficult to create the right climate that is established during concerts. Six years ago before the competition I made a record for a Polish label, with few pieces of Debussy, Szymanowski and Schumann, so I felt what means to be in a studio, and this experience has been important when I started recording for Deutsche Grammophon. The last recording that I made with Concertgebouw with Chopin Piano Concertos, a live recording, was very important. Though, when I recorded my second cd, with Sonatas of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, it was rather easy for me to create the right climate, because these pieces which I recorded, I performed a lot before the recording during my concerts in Europe and in the United States and I loved these pieces, so I was very happy when I could record on the record. 

In your programmes often appear Debussy and Szymanowski together, a play of contrasts in some ways, and in this concert too you propose a confrontation between Szymanowski's music and the Isle Joyeuse of Debussy. Why is this so much important for you? 

Now I'm playing Szymanowski music and Debussy because I already recorded a new cd with this music, which will be released in February 2012. I play Szymanowski because his music is so beautiful and interesting, but very little known in Europe; I wanted to show this contrast between Debussy and Szymanowsky, between Impressionism and Expressionism. Szymanowski's Sonata is a great piece of four movements, the last is a great three-voice fugue; there are many contrasts, many emotions, and also some very moving moments, such as in the second movement, which have wonderful melodies and a beautiful harmony. These are very interesting features in Szymanowski's music. Szymanowski himself loved Debussy's music, Metopes was inspired by it. So there's a connection between these two composers, and with Scriabin's music, maybe a little bit with Rachmaninov, they were very close to Szymanowski and we can hear it in his compositions.

Is it true that - as I read - when you were young, you were so much interested in organ playing? Would you have liked to be a professional organist? I ask you this because, as everyone knows, the organ was Mozart's favourite instrument, and with Mozart your concert begin

Yes, that's true, when I was a child, I wanted to be an organist, I'm catholic, so I visited the church quite often, and I liked very much the powerful sound of the organ. I also held some concerts as organist, and now also, when I have some free time in my home city, I go to the church and I play something at the organ, not only Bach, but also other works; sometimes I even play during the mass. Organ music is quite interesting, and it helps me interpreting piano music, especially when I play Bach, but not only. Late Chopin's music have polyphonic elements; and organ music also helped me to find right legato, because there is no pedal mechanism in the organ music, and I have to do all these things only with my fingers, so it's really interesting (laughing). Yes, I wanted to be an organist, but when I started to play the piano, I realized that - this is the right instrument for me (laughing) and when I took part in my first competitions I was sure that I wanted to be a pianist. 

Let's move on Chopin. You often said you adapt the way of playing mazurkas also to the place where you play, to the acoustic situation... so they are never the same. 

It is true of course. The interpretation depends on a lot of elements, on the acoustics of the hall, on the instrument, on the tuning, it's important that the piano is tuned before the concert, depending on the acoustics and on the repertoire. Regarding mazurkas, there's a lot of freedom in these pieces, the tempo rubato, for example... it's very difficult to explain, it's something that I feel inside me, sometimes I want to play it more classical, sometimes more romantic, that depends on my mood, but also on the atmosphere of the concert hall. It's somehow an's important, of course, to respect the composer's intent, the indications on the score, which is the basis for every personal interpretation. Very helpful are Chopin's letters about musical interpretation addressed to his pupils, as Karol Mikuli and Paul Koczalski, with some hints about playing Mazurkas and other works. Every artist is different; I'm Polish, but this doesn't mean that is more easy playing this pieces... there are many not Polish pianists who play polonaises, and mazurkas, polish dances very very well. It depends on the artist, on the personality and on the musical view on each piece. 

As you said many times, you have a quite regular life: in the morning you study new pieces, whereas in the afternoon things that you're playing in concerts, and you also have important spiritual moments. A continuous discipline is needed, how do you balance that and the career that bring you all over the world? You said you do a little number of concerts... 

Yes, I feel that is a good strategy for me; I feel that I can play not more than 45, sometimes 50 concerts per one year, maybe it will change, I don't know, we'll see; but now I feel good, and I don't want to do more than this, because so I've got time to do other things. It's very important to meet other artists and work with them. After Chopin Competition I could meet other musicians, important persons, great masters, from whom I got inspired. Last year I had a pleasant meeting with Maria Tipo in Florence, I played some pieces that I prepared for concerts and recording, and this was very helpful for me. I met Maurizio Pollini in Salzburg in 2008, I went to his concert where he played three great Sonatas, Schumann's, Chopin's and Liszt's, and I was very impressed, it has been very important for me to meet this great master and talk with him. Of course Krystian Zimerman helped me a lot after the competition with many suggests. He won Chopin Competition too, thirty years ago, he has a huge experience. Last time I've had a nice meeting with Krystian Zimerman in Japan in October 2010, he played a few concerts with Hagen Quartet, I played recitals with Chopin's music -because it was Chopin's year- and it was very nice; so, for a young artist at the beginning of the career it's very important to meet artists to have inspirations. 

A composer that you will approach in the future, for which you think not to be ready yet. 

I play Brahms, a few compositions by Brahms, for example his first sonatas, but I never played in public these pieces (laughing), I played only at home, and only for my friends, because I feel that I can wait, maybe in four or five years I will play them in public, but at the moment I play them for me, for my family. In the future we'll see, maybe I'll play Brahms' sonatas, first sonata, during the concerts.

This is the interview that Blechacz gave to Spanish RTVE just this month, talking about the latest album, Debussy and Szymanowski.

You can hear the interview from RTVE website. (English interview + Spanish translation).
It should be my turn to reverse-translate it but honestly I'm overwhelmed by the stom of articles about the new album this month.  So...excuse me please~♫
Rafał's English part is more exposed so I believe that you can understand it.

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