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Apr 28, 2012

CD Review by Frankfurter Neue Presse

By Michael Dellith

original review

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Moments of poetry on the piano

Pianist Rafał Blechacz rarely gives concerts. His CD with recordings of Debussy and Szymanowski deserves more attention.

It was a bit of sensation when the Polish piano artist Rafał Blechacz won in 2005 with just 20 years the prestigious Chopin Competition in Warsaw. The judges felt even reminded by his fascinating playing of his predecessors like Ivo Pogorelich and Krystian Zimerman. Two years later, the Frankfurt audience had an image of this extraordinary musician: pale, modest, perfectly calm and unpretentious, this young man sitting at the piano in Großen Saal of Alten Oper and unfolded Chopin's First Piano Concerto in such nuances of tone colors and dynamic shadings, as if the composer himself would strike the keys.

Now Blechacz has released a new CD, with works by Debussy and Szymanowski. Pianistic brilliance, as in Debussy's "Pour le Piano" is with him never superficial. His interpretations are far from any salon perfume, his playing is full of poetry, but without false sentiment. Rather, it radiates transparency and grandeur. Blechacz understands Debussy as an Impressionist par excellence. One never believes to have heard all the colors in Debussy's "L'isle Joyeuse" in such a dazzling diversity and transparency. Blechacz delves deep into the structures of the music of the Frenchman, directs the attention of "Estampes" to even the smallest details, such as two alternating notes in a rather insignificant appearing middle voice. But that is precisely what makes him a king of tone color, a magician at the keyboard.

Is there still possibility to intensify? Yes, with Szymanowski. For the C-minor sonata of his compatriot Blechacz literally burns. He permeates his music with emotions and sense of form, presents himself as expressionist of the purest water - and his sonata as a seething powerhouse of emotions. No question: Blechacz, a loner, acts as a foreign guest in the world where even in the classical music, quick success and self-promotion often count more than an artistic statement. The 26-year-old indulges in the luxury of self-restraint. He gives not more than 45 concerts a year. He takes the time for an artistic maturation, which is found only rarely in the ever more rapidly rotating carousel of classical artists. Only then can the extraordinary arise, outlasting short-term euphoria, becoming audible in an unparalleled manner.
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