Koji Shimoda, a Japanese critic, piano teacher, wrote a review of Blechacz’s disc Debussy Szymanowski recently for monthly “Record Geijutsu (=music, art), March 2012". Shimoda used to teach in Poland for years and wrote liner notes for Blechacz’s previous CDs Japanese version, “Chopin Complete Preludes” and “15th International Chopin Competition”.
Dazzling technique, noble song - I've been waiting for a disc of this class
....Szymanowski is the greatest composer since Frederic Chopin in Poland and for pianists, Szymanowski’s music should be important repertoire. Regrettably, though, his works have not often been recorded. We have an excellent disc by Piotr Anderszewski “Piano Sonata No.3, Metopes, Masques” and a fine recording of “Variation in B flat minor opus 3” by Rafał Blechacz but I wanted to have more (Note: he is describing situation in Japan). So I’m very pleased to have Blechacz’s recording of Piano Sonata No.1 in C minor opus 8.
Sonata No.1 was written in 1903-1904 when the composer was studying at the State Conservatory in Warsaw. It was his first big work. Although the cyclic form has some unpolished aspects, shades of chromatic sounds, romanticism, aspiration for virtuosity demonstrate delicate attractiveness, a unique feature of Szymanowski.
After playing Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor with solemnity, Blechacz begins to challenge the 1st movement of the Sonata magnanimously. A flawless, dazzling technique is heard in the development part. In the adagio of the 2nd movement, he shows what a noble singer he is. The Scriabinist development in the middle part is really on a grand scale. The 3rd movement is touching. The exquisite touch by Blechacz is reminiscent of a flower garden full of yellow flowers in full bloom at once when the lingering winter in Poland finally ends. The 4th movement begins with the introduction of apprehensive choral, developing in the three-voiced fugue, ending with the spectacular coda. Blechacz has this extremely difficult movement completely at his command and builds the robust, magnificent structure. Amazing!
Breathless touch, symphonic music
Blechacz is filled with aspiration in playing “Pour le piano”, a popular piece by Claude Debussy, “Espampes” and “ L’Isle Joyeuse” . He approaches these pieces from the front, generating something special about his interpretation, a bit different from French pianists. The impetuous rendering of Prelude from “Pour le piano”, the first piece of this disc may surprise some of you who are accustomed to Blechacz’s “elegant” approach. I feel this exemplifies his spirit put into this disc and it is really worth listening to. After offering the refined Sarabande, he creates in Toccata a symphonic, huge music, with his breathless touch and by playing authoritatively the musical motif in the middle. In “Estampes”, Blechacz shows his own characteristics when playing Pagodas and Soirée dans Grenad. From Jardins sous la pluie, a strong messaging can be felt. Indeed, the rain falls strongly. And his “ L’Isle Joyeuse”, youthful ebullience in a good sense.
I must say that I’ve been waiting for Blechacz’s disc of this class. The bonus track “Clair de lune” has his dedication in the context of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Thank you Rafał Blechacz…..! (with tears).
Indeed, it's difficult to restrain tears when hearing the gentle and delicate interpretation of Clair de lune after that enormous music of Szymanowski's sonata.
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