Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Sep 29, 2012

Big applause at the opening of the new season, Mainz

On Sept. 28, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Frankfurter hof, Mainz, Germany, the first recital of the new season.

"Rafał opened the new season tonight in Mainz at the Frankfurter Hof with a great recital. Was received very warmly by the audience and at the end a big enthusiasm erupted, clapping and shouting. Rafał played two encores."

In Poland, September 29 is a celebration of St. Archangel Raphael, who is Rafał's patron saint.

Alles Gute zum Namenstag!! (All the best on Name Day!)

Click the picture to see the namesday wishes.

Sep 26, 2012

CD "Debussy Szymanowski" release in US, Sept. 25

NPR "A Young Pianist Triumphs In Music From The Young 20th Century"

Another solid album from Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz shows he's an artist of distinction.

by Tom Huizenga

Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz was just 20 years old when he swept all five top prizes at the 2005 Chopin Competition in Warsaw. His domination was so thorough the judges declined to award a runner-up.

But with piano competitions, after the ceremonies wrap up and the hubbub dies down, only a few winners move ahead to what might be called greatness while others slip into relative obscurity. Van Cliburn, Radu Lupu and Vladimir Ashkenazy all took home top honors at big competitions. But so did Ralph Votapek, Simone Pedroni and Vladimir Krainev — not exactly household names.

Blechacz, with a compelling new album of music by Debussy and Karol Szymanowski (his fourth major label recording), seems to be on track to become a genuinely memorable pianist. And he's only 27.

That's about the same age Polish composer Szymanowski was in the first decade of the 20th century, when he wrote his Prelude and Fugue in C-sharp minor and the Piano Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 8.

Hear the sonata's fuga a 3 voci

The sonata, a terrific 25-minute piece, was an ear-opening discovery for me and should be better known. Its flamboyant opening Allegro, which Blechacz nails with ecstatic precision, harks back to Chopin's opener for his own B minor Sonata. The following Adagio is beautifully quilted with restrained emotion, giving way to a stormy midsection. A light, classically-tinged Minuet proves a surprising buffer to the imposing final movement which, after a foreboding introduction, segues into a virtuosic triple fugue. Blechacz plays it all with an uncanny combination of confidence and abandon. As in his previous Chopin recordings, the music pours out naturally, with unmannered dexterity.

Like the Szymanowski works that close the album, the three Debussy pieces that open it date from the dawn of the 20th century. With clean and fluid articulation, Blechacz doesn't overplay the whole-tone harmonies woven into the suite Pour le piano. Blechacz pounces on the Prelude with uncommon verve; the Sarabande, by contrast, is slightly veiled. Although composed just two years later, Estampes inhabits a very different world. Here's the exotic Debussy, flavoring his music with Indonesian gamelan in "Pagodes" and with hints of smoke and castanets in "La Soirée dans Grenade." Refreshingly, this isn't heavily pedaled, overly perfumed Debussy. It's unforced and evocative. L'Isle joyeuse begins with inquisitive trills and ends in a blaze of fireworks.

With this smartly programmed, brilliantly played document of the piano at the opening of the 20th century, Blechacz once again proves he's a musician living up to that awards sweep in Warsaw.

Sep 25, 2012

A chamber music hall of good acoustics

Rafał Blechacz is planning to give several recitals in my country early next year. In most cases he will play at large concert halls (as usual here) to accommodate many music fans, but the tour has a recital at a small chamber music hall in western part of the country which is renowned for its excellent acoustics. The following is an evaluation of the hall written by an expert of acoustics several years ago.

.....This chamber music hall is small with just 200 seats. But when I look at the stage from the back of the room, the ceiling is high and the spatial atmosphere is that of the middle-sized concert hall. Acoustics system is not high-profile; the side-walls are inward inclined a little, containing the curtains for adjusting reverberation. I love the neatness with no unnecessary decoration. But an air vent on the ceiling was distractive. I was seated right and back of the room. The program was for singing accompanied by piano, a program requiring clearness. I was impressed by the nice balance between reverberation and clearness. The sound was nicely delineated but not provocative. A well-balanced, lucid sound was delivered from low through to high registers.

In case of a small hall like this, how to secure the early reflected sound isn't a challenge, unlike large concert halls. However there is another issue that most of the audience members are seated close to the sound source. Depending on the types of instruments and formation, the range of volume and sounds are varied. So it is difficult for a designer to determine where to place a focus of reverberation. In designing a small hall, one concern is diffusion of sound field. Currently the relationship between the sound diffusion and acoustics has not been elucidated. The only countermeasure of sound diffusion taken by this hall is the slightly inclined walls (at 5 degrees) and gentle curving of the ceiling. But I thought the sound was never acute. It's partially because I was seated at the back of the room. I felt the sound balance of this hall was really excellent. It was helped by the performers who knew how to play here.

In later days, one of my colleagues attended a piano recital by Alexis Weissenberg here. He said that he couldn't hear details of the performance; it echoed round and round. I heard the same artist's recital at Suntory Hall and The Symphony Hall in Osaka and had similar impression. That way of performing was not suitable for this small hall, which has narrower tolerance to volume.... Anyhow for me this is the hall that suggests many things to learn.

Sep 21, 2012

From DG, CD lauch in US, Sept. 25

From tweet by DG and Decca USA,

Rafał Blechacz Reveals Debussy’s and Szymanowski’s Musical Connection, Available In The US - September 25, 2012

Barns & Noble 

 Konzertdirektion Schmid updated Blechacz's page

Sep 16, 2012

Albums by Deutsche Grammopnon artists (Germany)

Compilation albums by Deutsche Grammopnon artists will be launched on Oct. 26.

Brigitte Edition Vol. 4,  Muntermacher (=Energizer), Various Artists;

Russian National Orchestra, Michail Pletnëv,
Overture, Khovanshchina by Mussorgsky

Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan
Symphony No.29 by Mozart

Rafał Blechacz
Rondo (Grazioso),  Piano Sonata op.2-2 by Beethoven

Berliner Philharmoniker, Karl Böhm,
Symphony No.5 by Schubert

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Daniel Hope, etc...

Universal Music Germany

** Music suitable for the fresh start of the day ♫

Brigitte Edition Vol. 2 Klavierzauber (=Piano Magic)

Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Wilhelm Kempff, András Schiff, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ivo Pogorelich, Benedetti Michelangeli, Maria João Pires,
Rafał Blechacz (Tempo di Minuetto, Piano Sonata by Szymanowski), etc...

Universal Music Germany

Sep 10, 2012

Rafał will appear for the first time in 28 months

In my coutry, music fans are very mucn excited about Rafał Blechacz's concert tour planned in Feb. next year as ticket sales are beginning. I see voices of expectations every day on the web; "Can't wait"; "So excited". "I'll go to both Bach and Szymanowski!" (note: He will give two different programs depending on the venue.) There are some who had to keep making a phone call for nearly four hours on the first day of ticket sales for the recital in Osaka; I even saw a debate developed by two heavy music lovers on how Blechacz is an exceptional talent (pro-Rafał guy was able to convince the other.).

This is a drawing of Rafał made by a popular manga artist=comic artist, one of the enthusiastic fans who lives in Hokkaido and decided to fly to Tokyo and other cities for his recitals.
Drawing of Blechacz-san playing piano

I shared my experience that suddenly tears spilled when hearing his fast runs of Grazioso, Beethoven sonata op 2-2 in recital in 2009, a music lover (pianist and composer who created several CDs) said that one sheds tears at a time when exposed to an experience whose information volume is too huge to be processed logically in the brain.

-- posted via iPad

Sep 7, 2012

Review of CD Debussy Szymanowski by an audience member (UK)

Talking about Amazon, I visited to see how this CD is dealt with and found the situation normal and very nice reviews given.  One of them which was written by a "top 1000 reviewer" is as follows.

Rafał Blechacz proves to be a remarkable player on this disc. I was not surprised to read that he holds Michelangeli in particular esteem, as his playing initially reminded me of that legend, combining clarity with the most refined sound world, and a fantastic energy, as if the music has been polished like fine silver.

There is a gleam on the tone that is quite addictive, with a special immediacy that is unusual even by today's standards.

Blechacz' approach to Debussy is scrupulous but not at all lacking in feeling; rather, you feel emotion is coming across indirectly, as is appropriate in Debussy's world. I would rank it with the very finest; it won't displace Cecile Ousset or Youri Egorov (in Estampes) whose versions were the first I got to know, but it may well join them.

A particular pleasure of this new disc is the placing of these works alongside Szymanowski, whose star seems to be very much in the ascendant, and deservedly so. The sonata is a thrillingly virtuoso work full of musical interest, occupying a similar place, perhaps, to Brahms' early essays in the form. It is written on a large scale, and sounds mature, but with hindsight you know he would develop his harmonic language to a point quite far from this. Presumably the Prelude and fugue is also quite early; at all events it makes an excellent bridge from the clarity of the Debussy and the high-octane energy of the Sonata.

** I also found a good review on Amazon Japan that is much to the point.  (Hopefully I'll post it here later.)

Sep 5, 2012

US version of Debussy Szymanowski?

I saw on that Rafał Blechacz's CD Debussy Szymanowski will be released on Sept. 25 and pre-order is accepted.  Is this US edition of the CD?  One customer review is already given.

Barns & Noble  offering CD at a common-sense price with the same launch date, Sept. 25.

Interview and review from German newspaper

An interview that Rafał Blechacz gave to Die Fränkischen Nachrichten alongside with his recital in Heiderberg (April 20).

Original interview on FN website

"The important thing is the music"

By our editorial staff member Stefan M. Dettlinger

In terms of success, he is the greatest living pianist. Not only because in 2005 Rafał Blechacz won the world's most important piano competition in all five categories. Also then 20-year-old impressed the jury of the Chopin competition so much that for the first time in history, that is, since 1927, no second prize was awarded. The Pole born in 1985 quickly had an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Tomorrow he plays for "Heidelberg Spring". The interview via a phone conversation.

Mr. Blechacz, have you already practiced today?
Rafał Blechacz: No. But maybe this evening.

How much do you work every day?
Blechacz: It depends. When I'm at home and have a normal working day, I practice a lot. Six or seven hours, sometimes more. During tour it's less. I also want to keep a fresh atmosphere in concert, therefore I have to be in good physical and mental condition.

You have played since you were five. Do you sometimes have the impression that you missed something in life? 
Blechacz: No! Never! Because it was always such a pleasure to play piano or organ. Of course, I already had a few colleagues and friends, but music has been always the biggest joy for me.

A great, lonely man in nature
So nothing else in your life? 
Blechacz: Yes, already. I'm interested in philosophy, I am studying at University of Copernicus, especially philosophy and aesthetics of music. It helps me. But it's the music itself that is the most important thing to me.

You are not only a very serious and focused, but also as one who hates interviews. Why are you talking to me? 
Blechacz: I don’t hate interviews, even if they are not important for me. But when I give concerts or have CDs created, it is useful to give interviews.

An interview is an opportunity to get contact. People want to know who is the man who plays piano so brilliantly. . . 
Blechacz. . . that may be, perhaps it is less important for the people who already love classical music, but for young people who do not automatically come into contact with me. That could change something for the classical music.

I've experienced your concert live twice and never seen anyone else who plays so fine and honestly. And you're only 26 years old. Do you have any role models?

Blechacz: A lot. I have lots of interesting recordings. But the most important thing for me is to penetrate into the real depth of each particular work that I study newly, in its logic. Since there should be only the composer, his work, my inspiration and the interpretation. Not the interpretation of an interpretation. But there are also pianists in my life: Arthur Rubinstein, Sviatoslav Richter, Walter Gieseking, Benedetti Michelangeli - they all were great, but the biggest inspiration should be the composer and his work. . .

. . . I knew you'd say Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli - especially after hearing your Debussy and Szymanowski. You play similarly, differentiating, fine and unpretentious. What is the secret of your sound?

Blechacz: Ah, I think you need a good piano, especially for Debussy, for colors and shape of the sound, and you have to find a balance in the interpretation between intellectual and emotional aspects. For the new CD, we have found the right piano in Hamburg, in the Laeiszhalle. We often think that dynamics is the most important. It is also important. But I'm looking especially for the right color for each voice in order to let a certain atmosphere and structure arise.

You play on four CDs Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Szymanowski. Now you will play in Heidelberg Bach's Partita No. 3? What criteria do you have to make programs?

Blechacz: Well, I would like to introduce more different styles. In the first part I play mostly classical, Bach, Haydn and Mozart. In the second part I dedicate myself to romantics or impressionists. I want to present completely different styles and composers. I think this is very interesting for the audience. But sometimes you can also show similarities.

Mr. Blechacz, is there you when you do not play the piano?
Blechacz: When I'm in a city with a great museum, then I go there. That is a wonderful adventure. In Paris, I went to a recital and spent two more days. I was in the Louvre. This is for me the most beautiful way to relax and learn something at the same time. Sure, I also read, jog and walk. All this is part of personal development, which also helps me with the music.

This is a link to a review of CD"Debussy Szymanowski" written by Thomas Gehrig, posted on on August 15, 2012, titled,

"The All-rounder"

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Sep 2, 2012

What is French music? (CD review, Japan)

You are the happiest if you really enjoy it.
----What is French music?  Listening to Rafał Blechacz.----

by Hidekazu Yoshida
Record Geijutsu (music), April 2012

The author develops a music discourse beginning with how Blechacz's playing Debussy from his CD Debussy Szymanowski sounded to him.  Let me excerpt the beginning and a few parts of the essay where the author refers to Blechacz's performance, though the essay is not necessarily about Blechacz; it is about various recordings that he cherishes in his memory.  What is shown below is only 30 % of his writing.

Yoshida was a renowned music critic in Japan.  He passed away in May this year so this essay became the third from the last piece of the series by Yoshida for the monthly.  He was 98 years old.

.....These days quite a few pianists who open up career by the Chopin Competition are very shrewd in technique but a bit different from my image of Chopinist.  But I  remember slightly that Blechacz had a touch of play in a way that allowed me to somehow recall Chopin. (←) I didn't remember of him for some time after that.  Recently one of my acquaintances recommended his new CD Debussy Szymanowski.....

.....Just hearing the opening bars of Prelude of Debussy, I had "Wow!" How can I describe it?  The beginning was - very articulate or spirited, or it was dashing.  And this distinctively clear-cut tone keeps all the way.  For the first time in my life, I've heard Debussy that is played so articulately.

Besides, the sound is beautiful.

His Debussy is very different from the performances by some French pianists whom I've got used to hearing. The exhilarating, dynamic music could be deriving from Scarlatti, growing, developing into Prokofiev, though this comparison is a bit exaggerated.   If I borrow terms of paintings, it is not like Monet or Renoir or other impressionist painters with soft tones covered by pale fogs.....  I should reflect on what I've heard so far.  Probably I've failed to meet a pianist of so distinctive an approach.

.....This Debussy by Blechacz is courageously apart from the young Debussy that we have been familiar with; his is a youthful, even gratifying Debussy.

When I heard several notes at the beginning, I was surprised and wondered if it was all right, and  when finished listening I felt like asking someone if the performance was not checked by the 'great', established teachers of National Conservatory in France......

.....(Estampes) was written a little later and the performance was more in line with the "common sense" so my heart didn't beat fast at first hearing.  And it prompted me to remember the performance of Beethoven's piano concerto No.3 by Annie Fischer that I wrote in previous installment........

.........Furtwängler was a great conductor but his Beethoven can't remain the paragon forever.  That's the way music is going.  It sounds a far-fetched argument, but on this occasion of listening to Blechacz's performing pieces by young Debussy, I felt like thinking about what is French music first time in years......

(End of excerpt)

But let me quote the Gramophone's review when it selected Blechacz's CD as "Gramophone's Recording of the Month, May 2012".

Track 1: ‘Prélude’ from Pour le piano, 0’00”
Blechacz attacks this opening movement like few others – but exactly as Debussy instructed: non legato, assez animé et très rythmé.

The quote of Gramophone reminded me of an interview by Blechacz:

" I, however, can say that I try to penetrate very deeply into the structure of work, in its nature, logic and meaning. I try to bring myself to a situation in which the composer himself is my biggest inspiration, not someone else's execution. But the fact remains that the stylistics of Benedetti’s playing is very close to me..."


The crisp, articulate beginning of Prelude.


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Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to