Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz

Blog

Feb 29, 2012

Wonderful concert in Rome (4)

Feb. 28 was the final day for Rafał Blechacz to appear at the Auditorium of Parco della Musica, Salla Santa Cecilia with Beethoven's concerto.
Enthusiastic applause was rewarded by an encore; Chopin's Mazurka op.17-2, of elastic and strongly sprung rhythms.


**On march 2, Blechacz will give a recital @ Sala della Filarmonica, Trento


Sala della Filarmonica, Trento

blend of intimate delicacy and sparkling virtuosity -Blechacz playing Beethoven

A review by an audience member of Sala Santa Cecilia on Feb. 27.

"Less than a year since he was last in Rome delighting audiences in the Santa Cecilia concert hall, Polish classical pianist Rafał Blechacz was back at the Auditorium Parco della Musica yesterday evening,..."
Read more

(Debs thanks♫)



Feb 28, 2012

Wonderful concert in Rome (3)

On Monday, Rafał Blechacz played the Beethoven's concerto No.4 @Parco della Musica, Sala Santa Cecilia.  Responding to unending applause, he returned with Chopin's Waltz op.34-2, a real treat.


Sala Santa Cecilia

Feb 27, 2012

Review on Blechacz's Debussy Szymanowski on French website

I found this nice review on a French website "andanteconanima" of Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowki as of Feb. 26.

Original review

English by google translate


The author refers to this website Preludia in the review.



Wonderful concert in Rome (2)

On Feb. 26, Blechacz played the Beethoven concerto again for the Sunday matinee (titled Family Concert- Rafal Blechacz) and gave a Mazurka as an encore.  After the concert voices of admiration, "Que bello, que bello!" were heard here and there from audience members.
(M.F.)

Feb 26, 2012

Wonderful concert in Rome

On Feb. 25, Rafal Blechacz played Beethoven's piano concerto No.4 beautifully with the Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia at Auditorium of Parco della Musica, Salla Santa Cecilia.
Bravo!
(R.F.)

Posted via iPhone

Feb 25, 2012

Review on the album Debussy Dzymanowski (Germany)

A review written by Kai Luehrs-Kaiser on Welt on-line, Feb. 25.
titled "Not from this world", (about Blechacz's sound full of lyricism.)

PDF of the same article


Review + interview with Blechacz (audio, Poland)

Radio Mercury

Review + interview with Blechacz about the album Debussy Szymanowski (by Ewa Mikołajewska).
You can hear the audio interview.
Click on Zobacz on the bottom-right and the audio progress bar will appear.


English by google translate

Feb 24, 2012

Universal Music Italia


"After the success of the first two CDs devoted to Chopin (over 160,000 copies sold), the new album by Rafał Blechacz addresses the repertoire apparently far from the author who has launched him in the Olympus of international pianism.
The decision to juxtapose Szymanowski (Polish also like Chopin) to Debussy (who owes much to the composer in Warsaw) is in fact based on many points of touch that Blechacz reveals here due to his extraordinary gifts of technique and interpretation".


ROME: 25-26-27-28 Feb.Auditorium Parco della Musica
MILAN: 6 march, Conservatorio G. Verdi 
MILAN: 21 May, Teatro alla Scala 


There has been a delay of delivery of the new CD by amazon.com, and a friend of mine in US placed an order to CDJapan.  The CD was delivered in a week's time.  She didn't specify so but she received SHM-CD (made by high quality polycarbonate to enable very accurate data reading resulting in better sound quality, close to the sound of the original by the performer.) A special bonus for her, in addition to the bonus track "Clair de lune".

If you are interested in,

amazon.co.uk also sell the Japan version CD (not SHM)

The bonus track is available via down-loading purchase.
(The entire album needs to be purchased).
Example:
and iTunes store.




Review of Debussy Szymanowski album (Poland)

Written by Kacper Miklaszewski + interview with Blechacz 

English by google translate


(Thanks to Dana♪)

Feb 21, 2012

Concert announcement from Rome

Feb. 25, 26, 27, 28
@ Sala Santa Cecilia, Parco della Musica, Rome

program site for Feb. 25,27,28
program site for Feb. 26 Sunday matinee, called "Family Concert- Rafal Blechacz"

(Quote)
Rafał Blechacz interprets Beethoven
Now it has become the annual appointment with the young pianist Rafał Blechacz, revealed to the world by the Chopin competition in Warsaw in 2005, and in a short time he has become one of the most extraordinary and compelling pianists on the planet, thanks to the "traditional" and very brilliant execution style and with which he has fascinated and convinced the audience all over the planet.

After the highly-acclaimed recital of last season, now he is back with the Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia with the Concerto No. 4 for piano and orchestra by Beethoven, less heroic than the third and fifth, and certainly suitable to strings of the young Polish interpreter for his delicacy and intimate melancholy, just cleared from the unleashed and saucy Rondo finale.



And the first part of the concert is all Beethoven, directed by the young talented Colombian, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, with other two choral compositions, beautiful and rarely performed, the “Elegiac Song” and “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage”. The concert closes with the Symphony No. 7 by Antonin Dvorak, less famous than the new world, but more intriguing, ambitious and complex.
(Unquote)


**********
The news release has been distributed today among Italian media, about the upcoming concerts in Rome later this month.

liberoquotidiano.it

(Quote)

With Orozco-Estrada, the young Rafał Blechacz returns to Santa Cecilia.
Thirty-four year-old director and twenty-seven-year-old pianist
The Academy of Santa Cecilia continues in line with the youthfulness, Saturday, Feb. 25 (Sala Santa Cecilia,18:00; Monday 27, 21:00; Tuesday 28, 19.30), with the debut on the Cecilia’s podium of one of the star conductors in the new generation Andres Orozco-Estrada and the return of another prodigy, the pianist Rafal Blechacz of twenty seven, already a favorite of the public of Santa Cecilia.


The Colombian Orozco-Estrada became famous around the world at age of just 27 when a fortunate occasion sent him on the podium of the Musikverein to replace a director: the Viennese press immediately called him ''a wonder from Vienna, and now a series of successes led him to direct the orchestras more important in the international scene.

For his debut at Santa Cecilia he will conduct the Orchestra and Chorus in two gems of the choral music of Beethoven, two beautiful and rare pieces, “Elegiac Song” and “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage”, then go to the Concerto No.4 in G major for piano and orchestra in the interpretation, in fact, by Rafal Blechacz. He will conclude the program by Symphony No.7 by Dvorak, dense and dramatic chapter of the Czech composer.
(Unquote)



*****
Another websites detailing bios of the conductor and the soloist

English by google translate


From My Classical Notes by Hank Zauderer

My classical Notes written by Hank Zauderer, CA, US,  Feb. 17.

(Quote)
Debussy Szymanowski, Performed by Rafał Blechacz, piano

Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz born on June 30, 1985, has been cited by critics as one of those rare talents that only come along every few decades. His playing is characterized by its elegance, delicacy, and a poetic beauty that has created comparisons to the legendary pianists of the early 20th century, including Krystian Zimmerman, and others.

One of the greatest Polish composer since Chopin, Szymanowski was also influenced by Ravel, Scriabin, and Strauss. For the first time on record Rafał Blechacz plays Szymanowski’s music, and it is a revelation to those unfamiliar with it.

Debussy’s Impressionist sounds including “Pour le piano” and “Estampes” are also a great fit for Mr. Blechacz with his Chopin expertise.

Here are some press comments:

“[the Szymanowski is] interpreted by Blechacz in a way that brings out its ripe personal voice and responds to its dramatic breadth of architecture…The disc is worth having for the Szymanowski alone, but Blechacz’s Debussy is also a joy of limpid colour and immaculately weighed articulation, encapsulating the character and imagery of the music with a masterly and imaginative touch.”The Telegraph, 17th February 2012 *****

“He’s virtuosic on Debussy’s “Pour le Piano”, whisking us up and down the keyboard yet allowing pre-echoes of Gershwin to creep in to its more dramatic chordings; his “Pagodes” is weightlessly evocative. There’s an almost existential yearning about Szymanowski’s “Prelude & Fugue in C sharp minor”, while “Sonata in C minor” is complex and involving.”The Independent, 17th February 2012 ****
(Unquote)

Hank Zauderer is a violinist and an artist. He regularly hosts an evening classical music program at NPR radio station KUSP in Santa Cruz, California. (Read his bio and activity by clicking on "About Hank".)

Three reviews on the album Debussy Szymanowski (Poland)

Review by Daniel Cichy, for Tygodnik Powszechny, Feb. 21


Review by Agata Kwiecińska, Polskie Radio, Feb. 21.


Review by Jakub Kubacki, Feb. 21

Feb 18, 2012

Blechacz interview about new album (audio, German)

From auslandsdienst.pl (German arm of Polskie Radio) posts review and interview with Rafał Blechacz about his new album Debussy Szymanowski on Feb. 17.

auslandsdienst.pl website

click the speaker icon to hear the contents.
(Interview in Polish + German translation)


*****
In Poland, Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowski is ranked 13th in OLiS this week, jumping up from 43rd of last week.  (It's a CD sales ranking of all kinds of music, pops, rock, etc..I'm not familiar with other CDs in the ranking but it looks like almost all except for Blechacz's are from other genre than classical music.)

Feb 17, 2012

Klassikakzente introduces Blechacz's new album

Klassiakzente as of Feb. 17
in line with the release of the album in Germany.
Deutsche Grammophon and other on-line shops began down-loading selling of the album. (amazon.de)


With works of the transition to artistic maturity - Rafał Blechacz plays Debussy and Szymanowski 

The five-fold winner of the Chopin Competition in 2005 presents his long-awaited fourth album for Deutsche Grammophon with works by Claude Debussy and Karol Szymanowski.

In his typical restrained manner, Rafał Blechacz talks of the beginning of his love of the music by Karol Szymanowkski. At the age of about 12, he heard his music in a recital by pianist Jerzy Godziszewski. All sounded so beautiful, heart-breakingly beautiful, recalls the now 27 years old: the harmonic wealth, the wonderful modulations and melodies. At that time, the desire to play this music was growing in him. The first work that he studied was the variations op. 3. And since his sensational success at the Warsaw Chopin competition in 2005 he often played it in recitals. The positive reactions from the audience encouraged the pianist to let them hear more this rarely performed Polish composer's works.

Bridges over the abyss
On his new album, Rafał Blechacz will have a selection of works by Karol Szymanowski and Claude Debussy against each other. Thus, the young pianist takes a fascinating look at the creative hothouse atmosphere at the beginning of the 20th century. Debussy, born in 1862 and Szymanowski born 20 years later, both were initially infected with the Europe-wide rampant Wagner fever. But soon they felt the way of the German late Romanticism as a dead end. In the essay "L’Influence allemande sur la musique française” writes Debussy in 1903: "Wagner was a beautiful sunset that you have held for a dawn." Szymanowski also turns away, later speaks of a "deep abyss, in front of that contemporary German music stands, a chasm that had to be crossed at any price."

Deutsche Grammophon top page

Blechacz and Debussy - A perfect pairing 
Both composers open to new influences and find own ways. And for his new recording "Debussy / Szymanowski" Rafal Blechacz chose the works of transition. In the conventional Baroque suite, Debussy opens in “Pour le Piano” harmonious new territory and a new piano style of virtuosity previously unknown. You hear about Blechacz' interpretation of the Toccata. The transparency of his playing and the richness of color in his touch found their optimal counterpart in this music. "Before the Chopin competition, I played lots of music by Debussy. It has made me more sensitive for colors and shades of sound, which play an important role in Chopin's music. I am happy that after three albums for Deutsche Grammophon I can record Debussy's music, which is very close to me and also my interpretations of Chopin.” And with his recording of the percussive sounds of a Javanese Gamelan music, the reminiscent track "Pagodes" from Debussy's "Estampes" in 1903, Blechacz is an impressive example for the precision of his playing and his subtle use of the pedals. 

Impressive sovereignty 
The Dionysiac sound of "L'Isle Joyeuse" forms the link to the work by Szymanowski in the year 1909 Prelude and Fugue in c sharp minor, in which the composer, similar to Debussy, takes a Baroque form model inside to a new musical language. Especially the beginning of Prelude, so Blechacz recalls the expressionist atmosphere of some standing at the border to the atonality works of Alexander Scriabin. Blechacz finds Szymanowski's 1st Piano Sonata especially appealing. "It's full of emotions and culminations, but also full of sublime and subtle moments," he says. "In particular the minuet is interesting." "It is rich in polyphonic voice leading - melodies unfold itself both in the left and in the right hand - and full of amazing harmonic twists and turns." And thanks to an impressive sovereign creative power in spite of his age, Rafał Blechacz succeeds in putting together diverse influences and excellent ideas in this monumental, youth work of Szymanowski into a coherent and compelling whole.



The Telegraph - review on Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowski (UK)

The Telegraph's review on Rafal Blechacz's album "Debussy Szymanowski", written by Geoffrey Norris, posted on Feb. 17.

The Telegraph

(Quote)
Since sweeping the board in terms of prizes at the 2005 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the young Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz has, understandably enough, been identified as a Chopin specialist.

His DG recordings have included the complete preludes (477 6592) released in 2007 and the two concertos (477 8088) of 2009, but in between be produced a disc of Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart sonatas (477 7453).

On this magnificent new CD he again wrests himself from Chopin pigeonholing in a programme of Debussy and Szymanowski. Moreover, while his Debussy centres on familiar items such as Pour le piano, Estampes and L’isle joyeuse, his Szymanowski steers away from the usual Métopes and Masques and instead focuses on the much less well-known C sharp minor Prelude and Fugue of 1905 and the First Sonata of 1904.

@BBC3. Oct.25, 2011

Both are early works, written a decade or so before Métopes and Masques, but they already reveal the seeds of the heady intensity of expression that was to mark Szymanowski’s later music, while at the same time nodding to the legacy of Chopin and to the German Romantic tradition.

Schumann seems to be an influential force in the sonata, with a touch of Skryabinesque spice, rapture and harmonic freedom, but it is a hugely confident work, interpreted by Blechacz in a way that brings out its ripe personal voice and responds to its dramatic breadth of architecture as well as to the powerful momentum of the fugal finale and to the poignant delicacy of the slow movement.

The disc is worth having for the Szymanowski alone, but Blechacz’s Debussy is also a joy of limpid colour and immaculately weighed articulation, encapsulating the character and imagery of the music with a masterly and imaginative touch.
(Unquote)

*****
Another nice review from UK...Cheers♫

The Independent - review on Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowski (UK)

The Independent posted a review of Rafał Blechacz's new album Debussy Szymanowki on Feb. 17,
written by Andy Gill.

The Independent

(Quote)
The gifted young Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz – described by John O'Conor as "one of the greatest artists I have had a chance to hear in my entire life" – demonstrates the range of his powers here, pairing impressionistic pieces by Debussy with more expressionistic works by Blechacz's compatriot Karol Szymanowski.

He's virtuosic on Debussy's "Pour le Piano", whisking us up and down the keyboard yet allowing pre-echoes of Gershwin to creep in to its more dramatic chordings; his "Pagodes" is weightlessly evocative. There's an almost existential yearning about Szymanowski's "Prelude & Fugue in C sharp minor", while "Sonata in C minor" is complex and involving.
(Unquote)

Quiz for Rafał Blechacz's new CD with autograph (Germany)

Universal Music Germany posts a competition question on its website.
Answer a simple question and three winners will receive Rafał Blechacz's CD plus his autograph.

Universal Music Germany

I answered the question♫  

*****
From Deutsche Grammophon website,
"One of Chopin's most popular works is the Prelude in E minor from the set of 24 Preludes op. 28. Find here a selection of different recordings by highly acclaimed artists and listen to the range of interpretations."

Feb 15, 2012

Review of Blechacz new album Debussy Szymanowski (France)

written by Carl Fisher, posted on classiquenews.com on Feb. 14. 


(Excerpt)
The winner of the 15th Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 2005, Rafał Blechacz (born June 30, 1985) continues his impressive odyssey, with Deutsche Grammophon (already released three previous albums before this one, mostly dedicated, in line with its prize in 2005, Chopin). This is a journey without fault, highlighting the musical maturity of the artist and especially the accuracy of his artistic intuition.

The young Polish pianist takes new paths of traverse, facing as he says himself this "Impressionism", liquid, transparent, colored by Debussy, and the expressionism, more secretive and enigmatic by his compatriot Karol Szymanowski, born 20 years after Debussy in 1882. Troubling chronological order of Pour le Piano by the French (created for Ricardo Viñes) and Sonata in C minor by young Szymanowski, two works around 1903-1904 with an ardent fever. Besides L'Isle Joyeuse was also dated ... 1904: the young interpreter shows how the concept of color and timbre prevails in Debussy; the master impressionist has variations and mixed shades, which are changing, or even vibrant; with sanguine and nervous palpation, his play transmits this wild and naive characters as well as nervous fluidity, which is "impressionistic" and especially impressive. The performance of Debussy allows the pianist to pay tribute also to the models that nurture his own playing: obviously Arturo Benedetti-Michelangeli (who played in Hamburg Debussy precisely in a memorable recital in the fall of 1984), Gieseking and Alfred Cortot ...

Inner worlds, enchanted worlds
About the expressionist Szymanowski's, Rafał Blechacz is committed to revealing the same flamboyant activity, in the Sonata of youth already mentioned and the Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor, so close to Chopin (the beginning of the second movement of Sonata), Beethoven and Scriabin . And the following movement in this Sonata, Tempo di Minuetto, recalls this tender fascination for historicist references: Szymanowski is indulged in languorous and intoxicated pause, which also releases the perfume of a mysterious nostalgia, formulated with a digital, pearled tact as an old and antique eclogue, as also his elder Debussy loved.

Indeed, this care for the miniature means especially in Claude, in Estampes: where the presence of exotic, Eastern and Iberian evocation is precise, where all the art of suggestion is expanding and captive under the fingers of the pianist. His involvement is total: a supple and sometimes violent intensity. A race to the abyss of the soul and plays.

We note a beautiful and yet more secret sensitivity in the Prelude of the architecture engraved with the fugue of four voices, replaying the refined counterpoints of Bach. Szymanowski develops a kind of rambling which is worring but striking by his conciseness and inner clarity: all the contribution of Rafał Blechacz is: gifted with eloquence, he can also tell us thousands of ardent fires in a play, never trivial or frivolous. Of the great pianism.
(End of excerpt)

This article also introduces two recitals that Blechacz will give this year in France.

March 9
@Auditorium-Orchestre national de Lyon

June 12
@Salle Pleyel, Paris


*****














Today Japanese version of CD Debussy Szymanowski was released, with the bonus track "Clair de lune" by Debussy and Blechacz's dedication to the audience.

Universal Music Japan website

If you are interested in the Japanese CD with Clair de lune, you can buy it from:
cdJapan
HMV Japan


**This bonus track is available in other countries via on-line down loading selling.
Example of fnac, France.


*****
Blechacz's interview for German WDR3, which was broadcast on Feb. 15, is made available via podcast. (Interview in English + German translation voice-over.)
WDR 3








Promo video of concerts in Rome Feb.25-28

Uploaded by Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia,
about the concerts later in February when Rafał Blechacz will play Beethoven's piano concerto no.4 with Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia,
Conductor: Andrés Orozco-Estrada



Orchestra and chorus of ACCADEMIA NAZIONALE DI SANTA CECILIA
  • BEETHOVEN ..... Elegiac Song op.118
  • BEETHOVEN ..... Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage for chorus and orchestra op.112
  • BEETHOVEN ..... Piano Concerto n. 4
  • DVORÁK ..... Symphony n. 7

Feb. 25, 26, 27, 28
@ Sala Santa Cecilia, Parco della Musica, Rome

program site for Feb. 25,27,28
program site for Feb. 26 Sunday matinee family concert



Feb 14, 2012

Polish text of "About the Album" , Rafał Blechacz DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI

Polish text of "About the Album" , Rafał Blechacz DEBUSSY SZYMANOWSKI, written by Jürgen Otten, is available from Universal Music Poland website.

.
Rafał Blechacz wykonuje tę muzykę ze szlachetnością i autorytetem, co może zadziwiać jeśli uzmysłowimy sobie, jak młodym jest artystą. Jednocześnie słuchacz może wyczuć, do jakiego stopnia jego ekstensywna praca nad dziełami Bacha i klasyków wiedeńskich wpłynęła na jego wyczucie brzmienia i formy muzycznej. Spotykają się w jego wykonaniach przeciwstawności: młodzieńcza zapalczywość z największą poetycką wrażliwością. Wydawać się może, iż nie da się pogodzić większych sprzeczności. Ale to tylko powierzchowne wrażenie, ponieważ, jak uczy fizyka, przeciwstawne bieguny przyciągają się – szczególnie gdy są naładowane tak olbrzymią energią.

More


English, German, French texts from Deutsche Grammophon website

WDR3 presents Blechacz's new album, interview Feb. 15 (Germany) (podcast)

WDR 3 TonArt presents Rafał Blechacz's new album "Debussy Szymanowski".
"Portrait of Rafal Blechacz".

WDR3 program website .

It was broadcast on Feb. 15.
Now the interview with Blechacz from this program is available (podcast)
Original interview is English, with German translation voice-over.  (Feb. 16)

Feb 13, 2012

From a website of Universal Music Group Germany

introducing Blechacz's album "Debussy Szymanowski"

(rough outline)
For his recordings of sonatas and piano concertos by Frederich Chopin, Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz has been highly honored. Now the 26 years old devoted himself to solo works by Claude Debussy and Szymanowski to the tension between impressionism and expressionism and provides meditative intensity of gems with such works as "Estampes" (Debussy) and the Sonata in C minor, Op 8 (Szymanowski).

His playing is characterized by well thought out maturity, highly focused and full of lightness. In the "Prelude" from "Pour le Piano", the Chopin Prize winner shines with majesty and pianistic brilliance; in "Jardins sous la pluie" from "Estampes" (both by Debussy), he meditates in the monotonous pounding of raindrops, gently accompanied by glissandi. The transcendent pearls in the music of Debussy, the dazzling colors as in "L'Isle Joyeuse" refer to Blechacz with respect and great connoisseurship.

The music of Szymanowski with its emotional sound language requires more depth when compared to that of Debussy, and it is especially the case with the Sonata in C minor, which Blechacz feels attracted since his youth. The love for this work runs through all the records that Blechacz passionately recounts, especially the lovely graceful "Minuetto", one of the highlights of this recording.
(by Birgit Schlinger)


*****
My schedule is packed with jobs assigned and therefore I cannot answer some e-mails/inquiries.  Thank you for your understanding.

Feb 11, 2012

RAFAŁ BLECHACZ’S NEW ALBUM GOLD IN POLAND!

"In its first week of release, the recording of exquisite works by Debussy and the pianist’s compatriot Szymanowski – two of Blechacz’s special composers – has already achieved gold status in his native country. 


The recording’s first reviews are in. Polish Radio 2 calls it a “brilliant album . . . A beautifully engineered recording of a superb programme”, while Hi-Fi i Muzyka marvels over the pianist’s “pure artistry”. 


The new album by Rafał Blechacz looks set to equal or surpass the huge success of his previous recordings for Deutsche Grammophon. His debut album of the complete Chopin Preludes, which went platinum in Poland after only five weeks, has sold more than 60,000 copies worldwide. Blechacz’s second Chopin recording reached gold status in Poland on the very first day of its release as well. 

Warmest congratulations to Rafał Blechacz on yet another triumph!"


(From Facebook Deutsche Grammophon and Rafał Blechacz) 

@Berliner Philharmonie, Nov.2010

two interviews with Blechacz from Poland

"Popularity is a side-effect" authored by Kaśka Paluch, on T-mobile, Feb.6

(Quote)

You cannot complain about the lack of interest from the media. For classical music in which most of your time should be devoted to perfecting technique, is fulfilling promotional duties difficult?

Certainly, such an event we have now, which means that a new album appears in the music market, requires some help from the media.  I have several interviews, now in Berlin and expect my promotional days. Of course, the label is the organizational window, but all proposals from media are presented to me, so the final shape of promotion belongs to me.

Apparently Krystian Zimerman gave you advice on relations with media?

He shared with me his experiences. However, we should take into consideration the fact that the situation in which he found himself after winning the Chopin Competition, took place 30 years ago. Since that time the world has changed a bit and there are other media, operated in a different manner. I need a little bit different experience. It seems to me that for the six years that have passed since my competition, I was able to obtain this experience.

The media interest, however, is a good sign. Your success in the competition prompted a larger group of people to begin to have interest in piano music.

Yes, it is very important phenomenon, especially among young people. Chopin Competition may be contributing to this, because it is one of the biggest musical events. The fact that it takes place only every five years is important, because if something is rare, its importance increases. The competition is seen as very prestigious, not only in Poland but all over the world. But apart from the competition itself, the compositions by Frederic Chopin can attract people towards this kind of music. It is the magnet that attracts many people.

Do you think if in Poland it’s a possible phenomenon, that in the United States or Japan - classical musicians are gaining celebrity status? Examples of Sophie Mutter and Joshua Bell show it’s possible in the west ..

I think that it is not so bad with us. Actually, a little more people could listen to this music, but it is a process that is deepening and going in the good direction. Much also depends on the presented material, on recorded discs and their promotion. If I had to expand path towards popularity, it was never the aim of my work. It's a side effect, in a positive sense, of the work that I put into preparing the track. If this is the result of a natural process, it is then very good. But if it becomes an objective of work of music, you may already have some doubts. Certainly, if the artist is popular, his music gets to a larger audience that this music deserves. In Japan and Germany a lot of young people take part in the concerts of classical music.

Well, yes, but it is often more a matter of promotion than talent. There are many musicians who are very capable, and do not have the back-end of publicity, so it is difficult for them to reach a wider audience. And vice versa - those who can do less, but better to promote, have a larger audience.

There are different personalities and it mainly depends on individual characteristics. There are artists who are not especially interested in promoting themselves and I also would be numbered among this group – I have acted just like this and I feel that it is a natural and consistent with my personality. The most important thing to do is what you are convinced. If I have seen great interest in music of Debussy or Szymanowski in concerts, I’m thinking about recording CDs with this repertoire to perpetuate it. In particular I am thinking about Szymanowski, whose music is relatively unknown in Europe. One reason for the realization of this album is the wish to bring Western audiences closer to Szymanowski's music.



Was the juxtaposition of Szymanowski and Debussy on a single disc dictated by a desire to show the similarities in the texture of the piano and style of both composers, or the opposite?

Rather, a sharp contrast between two different worlds. Of course it’s possible to choose such repertoire to play works by Szymanowski from his impressionist period, which actually alludes to the style of Debussy’s music. But here, the principle of contrast was selected, showing another musical planet - the world of expressionist and impressionist. The only condition which binds the two worlds is a virtuosic element. However this factor of these two composers is significantly different - in Szymanowski elements of octaves and chords dominate, while in Debussy, virtuosity is achieved by lighter means, with articulation and fingers.

In interpreting Debussy's works are you focused more on technical implementation than on emotional and sensual aspect of this painting of sound?

Especially in the works of Debussy, but in my work in general, I do not cut technical and musical layers. I think of the work as a whole, I tend to enter very deeply into its logic and message in order to best perform and experience its adventure. With the series "Estampes" it can be safely said that I experienced it for ten years and it’s still fascinating, and up till now the approach of interpretation has been changing. Of course, the technical layer is something absolutely fundamental for a work and not subject to discussion. It has to be mastered, but it must also be a carrier of emotion and message. I was once asked whether works of Szymanowski are harder than Debussy’s. Hard to say. If we analyze just only technical aspect, it could be, but if we begin to enter deeply into Debussy's music there are other difficulties. For example, in balancing chords, virtually every finger should have its own color. It is not only to emphasize a specific component, but also to distinguish it by a specific color. Very often, we identify color of a sound and its intensity. For me a reflection of the mood went very adequately through color. You cannot say that the music of Debussy is easier - there is simply different difficulty.

Each work, each species or even an era in music history requires separate studies, above all, understanding and sense of the work. That everyone should find a moment in the history of music that best suits his personality?

It is difficult to generalize. In the world of music there are artists and performers who specialize in classical music or baroque music, and also there are absolutely versatile pianists whose execution of each type and age are of great music. As I said, sensitivity and adventure with the work should come first. Because if I spend much time for the work, I already know a lot about it - how this music works for me, how it is received. Therefore, what is important for me is to perform only those works that I can feel. How can it be reached? Experiences on stage, presenting the work in different cities on different pianos, after working with them and after breaks to work on them - after taking all these steps, you can ask a question: Is it now the time that I go to the studio and record these works? It seems to me that this road is logical. In particular, the presentation of works to another person, because it should go to this end in this world, to share with others the beauty of music. The reactions from listeners to Szymanowski or Debussy, the contact is what we call - the energy acting between a musician and his audience, it is very important, crucial elements.

Do you feel you are such a versatile artist? Do you feel that - so to speak - you may sit on each piece until something is found with it? Or there could be a composer or an era that you never feel?

I have not tried all stylistic periods and works. (Laughs) First of all, when analyzing the entire course of my musical education, the first concert and experience with the audience, I see that I was and am focused on baroque and classical music. Besides, classical and impressionist trend has been always very close to me, which has allowed me to develop interpretations of Chopin, because this coloristic element, sensitivity to sound and polyphony are important for Chopin. Chopin also loved Johann Sebastian Bach and polyphonic approach is evident in him. Certainly a big impact on me was also organ music, my first fascination with music. It's these four or five styles that I try to present, and I feel I can do them well. And only when I am able to feel it really well. Because the audience immediately senses the false emotion.  When an artist is not entirely convinced of what he does, it is that his interpretations will not touch hearts and minds of people. If an artist comes on stage and feels that he presents his story, it also gives a different impression. Now I concentrate on the music of Szymanowski and in many recitals after the Chopin Competition, I present his music. Now I'm working also on a Violin Sonata and next year I will have the opportunity of a chamber music concert and I'm glad that not only I’ll approach music lovers with piano, but also other works by Karol Szymanowski

Baroque, classical and romantic music, which has lead melody and harmony, is in a sense easier in the reception of uneducated listeners. Unprepared for what happened in dodecaphonism or postmodernism. Is it not that the artist, extending the repertoire to post-dodecaphonism, atonal or punctualism, has a more difficult task of reaching the audience? Chopin should be loved by anyone who has a minimum sensitivity of the music, but Shostakovich and Prokofiev, not necessarily. In this case does this principle also work that if a musician really feels the work and presents it honestly, it's even easier for the unprepared audience to accept?

Dodecaphinic music is difficult music, I agree. Here, in fact, it’s necessary to letting the listeners prepared, outlining what is the technique for composition, etc... Sensitivity is obviously important, but on receipt of Chopin it also requires some knowledge, not just sensitivity. I am impressed with the text by Roman Ingarden, who writes that the role of a listener, who has the perception of the music experience, should be active. This is largely dependent on the sensitivity, but also some knowledge and attitudes. If the good will from listeners who perceive music is missing, a desire to experience something beautiful or something that may prove to be a metaphysical experience, it will not be a good effect. Music can also in some way, shape morality; if we treat some religious works such as Bach’s cantata, a transformation of personality of the listener could happen. A piece of music has such power, obvious connotations, evokes emotions, directs some reflection or action. The role of listeners who perceive the music is absolutely important. The vocation of artist is essential to keep this in mind – the artist performs for another human, for his heart, mind, and in a sense, for his life.

Would you agree with the theory that the music of the twentieth century is very elitist? For example in this case, the atonal works, decaying system of major-minor - which is still naturally understandable to every man - the reason begins to lead primacy, dominating emotions and impressions?

The rational, intellectual and emotional sphere is also always a conundrum and a challenge to show that in music, naturally balancing these elements. As for the music of the twentieth century, I think you need to wait. History verified how this situation will continue to play out. Johann Sebastian Bach's works were also forgotten, and later, thanks to for example Mendelssohn, situation began to change. It takes time to verify whether or not a music will find its place in human history.

A composition, which in a sense is the denial of the original idea of
​​the music, the most natural and direct idea of arts, is now normal? Maybe we should accept  that what is happening in today's music - not just professional, serious music- it's just a reflection of our reality, just as complex and abnormal?

There are various approaches. Zofia Lissa, for example, argues that understanding of the musical work is not possible without understanding its context, the time when the work was created, to experience the composer, etc. Surely, it enriches the reception of the work and its interpretations. For me, the entry in the work, its logic and message, is the most important and in some sense immeasurable. A music piece otherwise will affect every person and every undefined place in music work will fill his personality.  But you cannot ignore the fact that it actually - every piece of music is in some sense a reflection of reality in which they arose.
 (Unquote)



"Chopin was not my first inspiration" authored by Maciej Karłowski, on empik.com

(Quote)
Our man in the great pianistic world!  The winner of the Award of German Record Critics longed for by many. His exquisite interpretations of Frederic Chopin’s compositions introduced him to the great music stores in the world. Already constant loyalty and now, an album was given into the hands of listeners that contains the story of his early musical fascinations works of Claude Debussy and Szymanowski. On the occasion of latest album’s premier, released for the legendary Deutsche Grammophon, we publish an interview with Rafał Blechacz.


Your latest album will be released soon. Not for the first time; besides, it does not include Chopin repertoire, but this label of Chopin pianist really sticks to you. How do you endure such stereotyping?

Thanks to Chopin I realize my dream, playing music around the world, so I could hardly tolerate such connotations, how can I cut off from him. I never want to. But I must admit that it was not Chopin who was my first inspiration.

And who was?
I came to Chopin much later than to Bach, Beethoven, Mozart or Haydn. The works by such composers as Debussy and Szymanowski also greatly helped me in the approach to the interpretation of romantic music including Chopin. After recording the album with the sonatas of the Viennese classics I decided to record an album with Debussy and Szymanowski, to show how much I owe to these composers.

Quite a inspirations are listed. All listed are related to classical music. Does a very young man sense any influence from other types of music on his artistic sensitivity?

Of course, other types of music come to me through the radio or television. But I must admit that everything in my life in some way revolves around classical music. Of course, not only literature of piano. There is a symphony and organ music, especially Johann Sebastian Bach and César Franck.

We know that you are interested in organ music, however, you did not admit to it in your professional career, do not sit behind the organ keyboard and give such recitals.

It's true, but I like it very much. It also enriches and helps me sometimes in the meaning of piano music. A lot can be learned from the organ works of Bach, and contacts with the polyphony often leads later to the discovery of this polyphony and in music of Chopin. It's very fascinating, but also a completely different musical adventure, which I like to give a sort of "after hours" when I sit down at the organ in a church in my village.

Let's go back to your new album. We already know that Debussy and Szymanowski are artists you’ve known for a long time. Among many pieces of music of various composers, what made you especially curious to the extent to decide now to confront them in one album?

There are two ways in my opinion to follow about how you can juxtapose these two composers. First way is an impressionistic trail, which is also very important for Szymanowski, especially in his second period of creativity. I decided to go to the second, where the main motive of constructing the recording was the principle of a very strong contrast. Debussy as an impressionist, Szymanowski as an expressionist. So two completely different musical planets.

Reaching for the piano music of Debussy, you probably take into account the fact that the journalistic community almost hastily compares you to the great Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and also, as already happened now, compare you to Krystian Zimerman, because of your success in the Chopin Competition.

Let me say this that recordings Benedetti, Gieseking, Richter, Cortot are obviously part of the history of the execution of these works. For this there is nothing to discuss. For an attempt at this type of comparison, either. 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. I admire him for the natural balance between emotion and intellect. In my approach to the interpretation, the key is in close contact with the work. It's a kind of adventure with a work that sometimes takes a long time. In case of the cycle "Estampes", good few years. I also see clearly how my approach to this work has changed over time.

In what way?
I would describe it as a natural process of development in expressing my ideas of interpretation. Different halls, different pianos, different audiences, a lot of experiences. It all has an impact. Anyway, by the way let me say that I like the moment when the work matures inside of me, when the whole process can happen in their entirety. Only then I do feel ready to enter with it into the studio to realize the recording.

Well, now we have the recording. Your relationship with the legendary Deutsche Grammophon continues, and I congratulate you on that. As we know, it is a legendary company with great reputation and great history. You, in turn, are a young musician. Do you have the freedom to choose the music you want to record? Could there have been suggestions from the manufacturer?

So far I’ve never encountered the pressure on repertoire from Deutsche Grammophon. Of course we have a lot of talks about these things, and they are very open people. I'm glad, because in my view the artist in this process of creation should be free from such issues and focused on music.

Along with the album probably a promotional tour is planned. Can you can give us the details of concerts?

First of all Europe, in October I’ll go to the USA and Canada. The tours on both sides of the Atlantic were scheduled before the album of Debussy and Szymanowski was formed. The concert program will be in the first part, music of Bach and Beethoven, and in the second part, works of the composers I play on the latest album.

You mean that in the year of the premiere of the album with music by Szymanowski and the 130th anniversary of the birth of the composer, you don’t perform in Poland?

In the Chopin Year, I performed here five times, the same as in London since winning the competition. Taking into account the period of the last five years, in Poland, I played about thirty concerts. I think it is also time to build my position abroad - in Europe, America and Asia.
(Unquote)



Feb 8, 2012

Review of Blechacz's new album Debussy Szymanowski (Poland)

Review on Rafal's new album written by Joanna Lach, posted on gazeta.pl bydgoszcz on Feb. 7.

Original review (Polish)

(excerpt)
New Blechacz full of contrasts in music
Joanna Lach

Warmth and emotions that Debussy provides us, we intuitively seek for it in Szymanwski. And thanks to Blechacz we can find it again. Today, his new album hits the shelves of Polish stores.

This is Blechacz’s fourth album released by the legendary label Deutsche Grammophon. The contract with its pianist from Nakło was secured seven years ago on his winning the Chopin Competition. He has already recorded his interpretations of Chopin (Preludes and concertos), and also faced with the classics, playing sonatas by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart. Now he reached out for compositions by Debussy full of intimate charms and also music by Karol Szymanowski still rarely performed in the world.

- In this way I wanted to show the contrast between music of impressionism and expressionism - explains the pianist of his choice.

The choice is very correct, which you can hear from the first sounds. Feather –like lightness of Debussy’s compositions show all the advantages of Blechacz. The sound extends towards the fore. It is not only well-controlled, but above all incredibly elastic. Once it sparkles with energy, delights with pearly color, and after a moment distances itself, dull and withdrawn. As in Sarabande from "Pour le piano."

Blechacz himself is extremely modest, as usual.
- I was fortunate that I managed to find a good piano. Thanks to it, I was able to show lots of colors, sounds, musical moods - he says in a special video promoting his new album. In addition to this suite, on the CD, we can listen to the music of postcards from "Estampes".


The contrast that was so important for Blechacz in the selection of repertoire gives the audience something else. This musical warmth and emotion, which the pianist has provided us with Debussy, we can intuitively look for it in Szymanowski as well. And we rediscover this music. The sound is powerful, bass sounds noble and full. Blechacz in a logical and intelligent manner, yet with characteristic simplicity leads listeners through the sometimes very complicated harmonic texture of the Sonata in C minor op.8. The music just flows out of it.

Apart from the sonata on the disc he also plays Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor. Both compositions are from the early period of Szymanowski. And although some - including the composer himself - treated them with distance, in Blechacz’s playing, they constitute a full-fledged work.

(end)

*******
Another review by Magdalena Talik (Polish)

English by google translate






Rafał Blechacz's interviews (podcast) (Italy, March 2011 & Spain February 2012)

Here you have Rafał Blechacz's interview that he gave alongside with his recitals in Italy, posted on the Italian website of Rai.TV in April, 2011.

You can hear the interview from Rai.TV website (original English interview + Italian translation).

You can read English version of the interview below; Maria Pia reverse-translated it from Italian audio.  (Many thanks to MP♫)

************
We have the opportunity to discuss many important matters, both related to the activity of a young pianist that has become a famous artist all over the world, and to the way he's leading and developing his career. 

First of all, I must say that Chopin Competition, my winning, it was the key to making and develop the musical career, because after the victory I signed a contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and I knew that I would have record for an important label, and my interpretations would be listened all over the world. Naturally, this was really important for me; but even more, now, is to keep balance between playing concerts into great halls, studying new pieces, extending my repertoire for next seasons and recordings, and of course having time to do other things, as I need to find new inspiration in music, but not only through music. I've starting studying music philosophy two years ago at university in Poland, because I've always been interested in music philosophy, aesthetics, musicology, and I think it's a great help in interpretation and in finding a personal way in every piece that I play. At the moment I don't do more than forty concerts per one year. I play recitals and concerts with orchestra; I'd like to play more chamber music in the future, but now I'm focused on soloistic repertoire and I choose capital cities of the countries, but also sometimes I play concerts in smaller cities, it's also very nice to meet the audience in this kind of cities and play the music for them. 


How difficult it was to begin recording for a major label, after the sudden start of an international career after Chopin Competition? 

To work, to play in the studio and make recording it's a completely different situation than to be in the concert hall, it's a different atmosphere; in the studio I can only see microphones and the instrument, it's more difficult to create the right climate that is established during concerts. Six years ago before the competition I made a record for a Polish label, with few pieces of Debussy, Szymanowski and Schumann, so I felt what means to be in a studio, and this experience has been important when I started recording for Deutsche Grammophon. The last recording that I made with Concertgebouw with Chopin Piano Concertos, a live recording, was very important. Though, when I recorded my second cd, with Sonatas of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, it was rather easy for me to create the right climate, because these pieces which I recorded, I performed a lot before the recording during my concerts in Europe and in the United States and I loved these pieces, so I was very happy when I could record on the record. 


In your programmes often appear Debussy and Szymanowski together, a play of contrasts in some ways, and in this concert too you propose a confrontation between Szymanowski's music and the Isle Joyeuse of Debussy. Why is this so much important for you? 

Now I'm playing Szymanowski music and Debussy because I already recorded a new cd with this music, which will be released in February 2012. I play Szymanowski because his music is so beautiful and interesting, but very little known in Europe; I wanted to show this contrast between Debussy and Szymanowsky, between Impressionism and Expressionism. Szymanowski's Sonata is a great piece of four movements, the last is a great three-voice fugue; there are many contrasts, many emotions, and also some very moving moments, such as in the second movement, which have wonderful melodies and a beautiful harmony. These are very interesting features in Szymanowski's music. Szymanowski himself loved Debussy's music, Metopes was inspired by it. So there's a connection between these two composers, and with Scriabin's music, maybe a little bit with Rachmaninov, they were very close to Szymanowski and we can hear it in his compositions.


Is it true that - as I read - when you were young, you were so much interested in organ playing? Would you have liked to be a professional organist? I ask you this because, as everyone knows, the organ was Mozart's favourite instrument, and with Mozart your concert begin

Yes, that's true, when I was a child, I wanted to be an organist, I'm catholic, so I visited the church quite often, and I liked very much the powerful sound of the organ. I also held some concerts as organist, and now also, when I have some free time in my home city, I go to the church and I play something at the organ, not only Bach, but also other works; sometimes I even play during the mass. Organ music is quite interesting, and it helps me interpreting piano music, especially when I play Bach, but not only. Late Chopin's music have polyphonic elements; and organ music also helped me to find right legato, because there is no pedal mechanism in the organ music, and I have to do all these things only with my fingers, so it's really interesting (laughing). Yes, I wanted to be an organist, but when I started to play the piano, I realized that - this is the right instrument for me (laughing) and when I took part in my first competitions I was sure that I wanted to be a pianist. 


Let's move on Chopin. You often said you adapt the way of playing mazurkas also to the place where you play, to the acoustic situation... so they are never the same. 

It is true of course. The interpretation depends on a lot of elements, on the acoustics of the hall, on the instrument, on the tuning, it's important that the piano is tuned before the concert, depending on the acoustics and on the repertoire. Regarding mazurkas, there's a lot of freedom in these pieces, the tempo rubato, for example... it's very difficult to explain, it's something that I feel inside me, sometimes I want to play it more classical, sometimes more romantic, that depends on my mood, but also on the atmosphere of the concert hall. It's somehow an intuition...it's important, of course, to respect the composer's intent, the indications on the score, which is the basis for every personal interpretation. Very helpful are Chopin's letters about musical interpretation addressed to his pupils, as Karol Mikuli and Paul Koczalski, with some hints about playing Mazurkas and other works. Every artist is different; I'm Polish, but this doesn't mean that is more easy playing this pieces... there are many not Polish pianists who play polonaises, and mazurkas, polish dances very very well. It depends on the artist, on the personality and on the musical view on each piece. 


As you said many times, you have a quite regular life: in the morning you study new pieces, whereas in the afternoon things that you're playing in concerts, and you also have important spiritual moments. A continuous discipline is needed, how do you balance that and the career that bring you all over the world? You said you do a little number of concerts... 

Yes, I feel that is a good strategy for me; I feel that I can play not more than 45, sometimes 50 concerts per one year, maybe it will change, I don't know, we'll see; but now I feel good, and I don't want to do more than this, because so I've got time to do other things. It's very important to meet other artists and work with them. After Chopin Competition I could meet other musicians, important persons, great masters, from whom I got inspired. Last year I had a pleasant meeting with Maria Tipo in Florence, I played some pieces that I prepared for concerts and recording, and this was very helpful for me. I met Maurizio Pollini in Salzburg in 2008, I went to his concert where he played three great Sonatas, Schumann's, Chopin's and Liszt's, and I was very impressed, it has been very important for me to meet this great master and talk with him. Of course Krystian Zimerman helped me a lot after the competition with many suggests. He won Chopin Competition too, thirty years ago, he has a huge experience. Last time I've had a nice meeting with Krystian Zimerman in Japan in October 2010, he played a few concerts with Hagen Quartet, I played recitals with Chopin's music -because it was Chopin's year- and it was very nice; so, for a young artist at the beginning of the career it's very important to meet artists to have inspirations. 


A composer that you will approach in the future, for which you think not to be ready yet. 

I play Brahms, a few compositions by Brahms, for example his first sonatas, but I never played in public these pieces (laughing), I played only at home, and only for my friends, because I feel that I can wait, maybe in four or five years I will play them in public, but at the moment I play them for me, for my family. In the future we'll see, maybe I'll play Brahms' sonatas, first sonata, during the concerts.


*********
This is the interview that Blechacz gave to Spanish RTVE just this month, talking about the latest album, Debussy and Szymanowski.

You can hear the interview from RTVE website. (English interview + Spanish translation).
It should be my turn to reverse-translate it but honestly I'm overwhelmed by the stom of articles about the new album this month.  So...excuse me please~♫
Rafał's English part is more exposed so I believe that you can understand it.




Feb 7, 2012

Review of concert in Madrid, Blechacz played Beethoven #4

Review written by Gonzalo Alonso, posted on Beckmesser on Feb. 6,
about the concert at Auditorio Nacional, Madrid on Feb.4

Original review (Spanish)

I'll pick up Blechacz related part only.


Potentiality of the youth

Works by Satie, Beethoven, Shin and Wagner. Rafal Blechacz, piano. Leticia Moreno, violin. Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, Josep Pons, conductor.
Auditorio Nacional. Madrid, February 4.

The series "Paris 1900" has brought to the scene of the OCNE two artists of the same age, born in 1985, who already garnered great prestige.

Rafal Blechacz won the first prize in 2005 in the famous Warsaw Chopin Competition, also winning the special prizes for the best performances of mazurkas, polonaise, concerto and sonata. That means all the awards that were issued. Moreover, no second prize was awarded. Quite a record. In the following year he concluded an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon and so has three albums so far, honored with such awards as German Echo Klassik, Diapason d'Or and Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

He played in the National Auditorium the "fourth" Beethoven concerto and the important technical domain as well as his youth was denoted in its concept. It’s not bad that at age 26 he becomes too much impulsive and passionate, as happened in the first movement  at the first time (or tempo primo? I don't understand it.  Original Spanish is primer tiempo) of the concerto or just after the orchestral chord heavily marked by Josep Pons, rushing forward in the ever complicated opening phrase of piano that initiates the third (movement). There will be time to temper the blood because if there is no remedy it means he doesn’t have the blood of talent in the first place.
(I think it is a rhetorical expression peculiar to Spanish, meaning "he really has the blood=talent).

Blechacz and his vision of Debussy Szymanowski (podcast)

Płytomania of Polish Radio 2 which reviewed Rafał Blechacz's new album "Debussy Szymanowski" on Feb. 5 @15:00, is now available via podcast.
You can hear critics' views and the entire interview with Blechacz.

Hear the program from Polish Radio 2 website.



(Excerpt from critics' views)
Blechacz’s album was approved by our reviewers very favorably. Both the repertoire and the performance gained recognition by Kacper Miklaszewski and Andrzej Sulek.

“I acclaim enthusiastically the overall program on the CD,” Kacper Miklaszewski said.
“Blechacz broke the stereotype of treating him as Chopinist and in a very beautiful way, by entering into an area of repertoire little performed. He joined the elite group of pianists who want to put a lot of efforts into the works, who themselves will not tempted. The selection of works by Szymanowski and Debussy is brilliant - they come from the same years, yet are different greatly in style and degree of ‘modernity’. Paradoxically, the more avant-garde Debussy seems to be older.”

 “For me the album is dazzling,” - agreed Andrzej Sulek.
 “I was waiting for the next album by Rafał Blechacz with concern. It seemed to me that the interval to its successive appearance on the market is too long. I was afraid that it's going to be late, not very expressive, but it is worth waiting for. This recording is valuable, very thoughtful and ‘launched’ in the market in the year of Debussy. So listeners who pick up the French music therefore will also get rarely performed Szymanowski. The excellent combination”.

Feb 6, 2012

A mini review of Blechacz's new album "Debussy Szymanowski (Germany)

From a review written by Michael Thumser who reviewed three albums recently released by Deutsche Grammophon, posted on Frankenpost on Feb. 6.

Original review on Frankenpost (German)

Following is a part for Rafał Blechacz's album "Debussy Szymanowski".

(Excerpt)
Powerful and Exquisite

.....To mediate between powerful and exquisite elements at the piano, Rafał Blechacz succeeds on the album in bridging the gap between Poland, the pianist’s home and France, and Claude Debussy and Szymanowski at the same time.

A major US critic imagined himself to be present at the "Birth of Titan", when he saw the artist live. But still more, Blechacz convinces with his stupendous playing of keyboard through his sublime empathy with each composer of each piece.  In Debussy – in which he interpreted "Pour le Piano", "Estampes" and "L'Isle Joyeuse" - he has the clarity of the classicists, thoughts of rousing joy of both Mozart and Prokofiev; in Szymanowski, (Prelude and Fugue in c sharp minor, Sonata in c minor, opus 8) who died in 1937, 21 years after the Frenchman, Blechacz has serious and thoughtful Bach, rumbling Busoni and Rachmaninov, passionate Franz Liszt.

Review of Blechacz's new album "Debussy Szymanowski" (Poland)

Review of Rafał Blechacz's new album by Jowita Dziedzic-Golec, posted on charaktery.eu.


(Quote)
Never following a shortcut 

The victory in Warsaw Chopin Competition in 2005 opened him the doors of the great halls and has ensured a contract with Deutsche Grammophon. All the artists dream of such a contract but even those few who obtained this honor, cannot always properly manage their career with the label. 

Rafał Blechacz doesn’t have even the least trouble about this. He understands that the recording for DG is his duties. His subsequent albums confirmed that he is an extremely matured artist. He doesn’t follow a shortcut or deliver an album “under the general public.” The repertoire he decides is from compositions selected in a deep thought. Even if - as in the latest album – they are less known, difficult, and above all recording of them does not guarantee an easy applause of the mass. Blechacz compiled Debussy with Szymanowski, who - as is known - was inspired by the music of the French composer.

From works for piano solo by the creator of “Peleas y Melisande” Rafał chose these compositions: "Pour le Piano", "Estampes" and "L'Isle Joyeuse". Especially "Estampes", the first of the fundamental cycles of piano, presents all the essential elements of the composer's style and it is like a hallmark of Debussy. The Polish pianist obtained the “card” with a superb agility and commitment at the same time.

He interpreted Szymanowski also magnificently, "Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor" and "Sonata in C minor, Op. 8 ", proving once again, as a seasoned artist. The artist who can extract from the compositions – and for him technique apparently dominates the expression – this: what is the noblest and the most valuable. Blechacz is not only a great virtuoso, whose technique causes sensation, he is also, perhaps above all, an outstanding interpreter. His performances are filled with the spirit of the work. He never misuses the statements that speak the voices of dead composers, their intentions and thoughts. 'He would more readily agree to produce counterfeit money, than to write three bars of music without the firm conviction of their reason "- said a friend of Claude Debussy, Raymond Bonheur. I am convinced that likewise Rafał Blechacz never sits at the piano without deep conviction about the right approach to composition that he wants to record. The new release is the proof of this.
(Unquote)

His Beethoven fascinated Madrid again.

"Rafał played again Piano Concerto No. 4 by Beethoven with Josep Pons and Orquesta Nacional de Espagna today at the matinee concert in Madrid's Auditorio Nacional to the full house. Big unending applause! Rafał responded with an encore: Chopin's mazurka A minor op. 17".
(R.F.)

Feb 5, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's another great success in Madrid

On February 4, Rafał Blechacz performed Beethoven's piano concerto No. 4 in G major with Orquesta Nacional de España (ONE) under the direction of Josep Pons at Auditorio Nacional in Madrid.

"Another great success of Rafał. Like in the concert yesterday, he charmed the audience yet again. Long lasting applause demanded an encore so he played one: Mazurka A minor, op. 17."
(M.F.)


Rafał Blechacz will perform the concerto again for Sunday matinee on Feb.5.

@JF Kennedy Center, Feb.27, 2010
He played this Mazurka as an encore
*****
I remember he played this concerto by Beethoven three years ago in Fukuoka (Feb.6) and Tokyo (Feb.9) mesmerizing many fans from at home and abroad...!

Feb 4, 2012

Blechacz Interview in Spain - about Debussy and Szymanowski

Interview article on Agencia EFE (Spanish) 


(quote)
The "prodigious" pianist Rafał Blechacz "balances" Debussy and Szymanowski

The "prodigious" Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, unique in history who won five first prizes of the Chopin International Competition, will perform this weekend at the National Auditorium Beethoven with the equilibrium he chose for his latest album dedicated to Debussy and Szymanowski.

For the second time performing in the Auditorium, Blechacz (Nakło nad Notecią, 1985) have chosen a piece that he already played in Valencia, the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 in G major, as he explains in an interview with Efe, it is his "favorite" of Beethoven and he is "very happy" to perform it with Orquesta Nacional de España (ONE) under the direction of Josep Pons.

Blechacz just recorded with Deutsche Grammophon the disc devoted to French Claude Debussy (1862-1918), in which he has included "Suite pour le piano", "Estampes" and "L'isle Joyeuse" and to Polish Karol Maciej Szymanowski (1882-1937) "Prelude and Fugue in C sharp Minor" and "Sonata in C minor."

"The main reason for choosing them was the great contrast that exists between the two. They are completely different: they represent impressionism and expressionism and that's very interesting to the public," he explains.

The Polish master was inspired by the interpretation of his admired Arturo Benedettu Michelangeli of pieces by Debussy, because, he argues, he would like to reflect the transcendental "color" of a composition such as "Estampes".

"For me it was very important to translate, interpret and express the exact color, define each color very precisely, and also deepen their music, their psychology and capture what they wanted to express, without fixing myself in what others have done before."

His interpretation of Debussy, virtuosic as in all of his previous works, was made possible, he says, thanks to the appropriate piano he obtained, because he needed a full surround sound.

The challenge with Debussy and Szymanowski has been to constantly seek the balance "exploring between the depth and the surface" of the compositions, "constantly correcting," as if he had to "change hands" in each passage and very aware of controlling pedals in search of "silvery sound" that is required, for example, by "L'isle Joyeuse".

The musician accepts only 40 concerts per year because, he says, it allows him to maintain the balance between private and professional lives, although even when at home he dedicates himself to the piano for seven hours per day.

"I need time to develop new pieces, repertoires and new albums," explains a kind of classical "monk", who will begin next academic year studying at the University in Torun, the birthplace of Copernicus, philosophy.

He is pleased to go to museums like the Prado, listen to organ music, chamber and the sonatas of Mozart and very little "modern" - "I cannot concentrate on it," he explains, but above all, likes to drive, so it’s "normal" to drive during tours, alternating with his father on the road.

This Polish is not of those who would like to play Chopin only "well”; his compatriots are “well" , but he stresses "it is very important to be very close to the composer, his sensitivity. The experiences obtained in life are going to make it possible."
(Unquote)



*****
Interview videos from styl.pl (Polish)


Interview video uploaded by Universal Music Poland (Polish)



(Thanks to Konstancja for the discovery♫)