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May 14, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's interview for NRC (Netherlands)

This is an interview with Rafał Blechacz, published by NRC, a daily newspaper in the Netherlands on its cultural supplement on May 10, the previous day that he played Beethoven Piano Concerto No.3 with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (Conductor: Trevor Pinnock) at Amsterdam Concertogebouw.  Blechacz gave the interview to Mischa Spel for NRC in March this year, when he held a recital  at Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), The Hague, the Netherlands.


Original interview on NRC

NRC on-line version (subscriber only)

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Translation of “Cultureel Supplement NRC 10-5-2012”

By: Mischa Spel

Profound calm, young and brilliant

The Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz (26) in 2005 was the glorious winner of the Chopin Competition. Recently his fourth CD was released, he performs solo tomorrow at the Concertgebouw. His playing is fragile, robust where necessary and above all enchanting colorful.

At the Chopin Competition 2005 at the age of 20 years Rafał Blechacz all prizes. Who played Chopin's Mazurka's the best? Blechacz. The concert program? Blechacz. The succession of honorable acclamations was equally memorable and stunning as Blechacz's playing. Finally, Poland had again a national heir to Rubinstein, Paderewski and Zimerman, and the second prize then? The jury decided not to award that, in order to underline especially Blechacz's sovereignty.

Among all young pianists who make CDs and build an international career on stage, Rafał Blechacz (26) radiates an almost old-fashioned calmness, modesty and purity.

Interviews? He gives them seldom. Concerts? With four per month you got it.
“I need my quiet time, it takes time to think and work on my interpretations” he smiles, while he is sitting in the lobby of his hotel in The Hague after a solo recital in the Nieuwe Kerk. On the other hand - or rather, there arises, on Deutsche Grammophon, one after the other jewel from his hands. Of course there was first a CD of Chopin for the Polish Chopin Winner had not have done otherwise. This was followed by an album of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, Chopin again (concerts with the Concertgebouw Orchestra). And now there is a fourth CD that except for the prize for the color richness of the game also deserves an originality prize: Impressionist works (Pour le piano and Estampes) by Debussy coupled with the rarely performed expressionistic music of the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski.

“I am now often seen as Chopin specialist but before I won the Chopin Competition, I played mostly different repertoire.", said Blechacz. ,”Liszt, Schumann, Debussy, that backgroud helped me polish my own interpretations of Chopin”.

Blechacz is courteous and friendly, but on his course as a musician he is very decided.
Travel by car he does, especially during the concert tours in Europe.
“Not from fear of flying, but I find it pleasant. After concerts, I am still full of adrenaline, and then I will then take a good ride. It relaxes me. Meanwhile I talk with my father, or listen to CD’s with lectures in philosophy . If I want to stop, I stop. For an artist that feeling of autonomy is very important. Then I go to sleep quietly. "


Pianist Rafał Blechacz gives
only four concerts a month
Living remote
Blechacz's love for music began with the organ, but at home was a piano and practical considerations led him away from his first love. This love is not totally vanished:
“When I'm at home, I play organ often enough during and after the service in our church. But since I was eleven, after winning the first competition, I knew for sure that the piano now would be my main instrument. The atmosphere of live recitals I loved very much. Such a concert hall, that sacred silence, the audience ... I wanted that too. "
Blechacz still lives in his native region, the northwest of Poland nearby the city of Bydgoszcz (Bromberg). With the first earnings – his first CD's together sold 160,000 pieces, for a classical artist extremely much - he bought a house in the country. “To read and playing the piano the remote lying is perfect and even necessary. "
His parents live there too, and his sister. “Eh ... Yes. Naturally, I sometimes feel to break, "he agreed. “But I travel a lot. And I want to focus on expanding my repertoire. That is my main priority. "

"To compare musicians in competitions is discordant with the nature of the music.”

Rafał Blechacz gives recitals in the best concert halls of the world, and is soloist with the most important orchestras.
"That was what I wanted and why I was participating in the Chopin Competition seven years ago, that was for the breakthrough. But there are more roads leading to the summit and participating in competitions is certainly not everything. I could handle the associated stress because I had already decided in advance to focus on myself and the pieces I was playing. I have not listened to my competitors, not watched TV, listened no radio, nothing. Only isolation. It worked perfectly for me. But essentially, I off competitions. To compare musicians in a competition is discordant with the nature of the music. " His individuality is sacred to him, says Blechacz. “Deepening in a piece of music as a personal adventure and experience it. "

To study of the identity of the music, he devotes his free time. He studied philosophy, with an emphasis on aesthetics and music philosophy. Look, he points out, the writings of the Polish phenomenologist / aesthete Roman Ingarden are always in his book bag.
“Ingarden said interesting things about the identity of musical compositions. The problems he mentions touch on the questions I ask when interpreting musician, about interpretation, hermeneutics and the role of metaphysics for example. Why? Take Polonaise fantasia Op 61 of Chopin. Such a piece of music calls, and that goes for many great music, a strong metaphysical feeling – both for listeners and for performers. Sometimes I experience that sensation, sometimes I force myself to realize what and when that happens in me."

The need to point and identify thoughts and emotions during my playing is artistically very fruitful, he means “Władysław Strózewski, a student of Ingarden, wrote that the finding of a good interpretation is always a dialectical process, depending on growth and changes within the psyche of the artist. Making music is a search for the right balance between what the music requires and taking your own artistic freedom - as it were, between the notes on. "

And then Blechacz gets back in the car, on to the next concert. “But of course I look forward to them," he says. “The life I lead is full of everything I loved as a child from a performance of a concert: the atmosphere of tense anticipation, especially." With a smile: “Now people are waiting for my interpretations. And the concert halls rooms are bigger."


On 11/5 Blechacz is soloist in Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Trevor Pinnock, Concertgebouw Amsterdam. For information.: blechacz.net
(End of the article)

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The English translation was done by Jan Zum Vörde, who loves Rafał's music and attended the recital at Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague in March and the concert at Concertgebouw on May 11.  My sincere appreciation to Jan for his usual support to this website with translation for the past four years.

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4 comments:

  1. Wonderful hands! To be a pianist, one should be born with long fingers. It's noticeable that most of pianist have unusally long little finger. Who knows, our life might be predestinated.

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    1. Ideal hands, good motor coordination, high intelligence, mental strength..it looks like at least in his case, life is predestinated physically & meta-physically..

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  2. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

    I enjoyed Rafal's talking of philosophical viewpoint on interpretation, difficult for me though :))

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    1. Me too. Thanks to the artist for explaining the difficult concept in a easy-to-understand way. I imagine Mischa Spel is a good interviewer to let him expound what he wants to say.

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