Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Apr 10, 2012

Portrait of Rafał Blechacz by Corina Kolbe (Germany)

Portrait of Rafał Blechacz based on an interview with him and review of his album Debussy Szymanowski written by Corina Kolbe, posted on

original article

He sees sounds as colors.
The pianist Rafał Blechacz on Debussy and Szymanowski, modeled after Bach and searching for ideal piano sound.

As Rafał Blechacz won the legendary Warsaw Chopin competition in all categories in 2005, he became well-known around the world overnight. Instead of seeking for quick fame, however, the Polish pianist has taken time to expand his repertoire wisely. He doesn’t want to play more than 40 to 50 concerts a year, he explains. He uses the remaining space to deeply dive into scores.

Blechacz’s brilliant new recording of works by Debussy and Szymanowski shows that his reflective approach has brought him on the right track. He had already discovered both composers early, long before his success in Warsaw. "Debussy has especially made me aware of colors of sounds and shades, which play an important role even in Chopin and Szymanowski," he says. "It is very helpful while playing sounds if nuances of colors are present."

Colors are for him not only an expression of various sound intensities, but also evoking different moods. With a well-measured use of the pedals Blechacz successfully adds the finest gradation of the impressionist painter in Debussy’s Estampes. “In "Jardins sous la pluie” every voice has its own color. The delicate silvery melody in the right hand is reminiscent of drops of morning dew, while the left hand produces very different sounds. " But Debussy was influenced, like Chopin, also by the strict forms of Bach. Rafał Blechacz as a child already came in touch with the great Baroque composer. With his family he visited regularly Catholic church service in the small town Nakło nad Notecią. "The organ playing in the church fascinated me from the beginning. So Bach became my first love of music. "

The polyphony of Bach's compositions Blechacz discovers again in late Chopin. His own experiences with the "king of instruments" helped the pianist in the process of perfecting his playing legato: "At the organ I can bind each sound only with fingers, not through the pedal. I apply this to my playing piano and use the pedal only economically. "

Blechacz found the right piano for his performance, after he tried out more than one instrument. In the Hamburg Laeiszhalle, where he will play works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Szymanowski, he discovered during his first recital ideal Steinway grand piano, which he used for the recording of his new CD. "For Szymanowski I need tremendous sound and powerful bass," he explains. The Polish composer intrigued him in that he was a part of impressionism on one hand and marked by expressionistic style of Scriabin on the other. "I found in him very esoteric features, very dark sound and somber chords....."
(End of excerpt)

This article is to promote his recital in Hannover on April, 16.

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