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Apr 30, 2012

Reviews of Blechacz's recital in Stuttgart (Germany)

A review of Rafał Blechacz's recital @Beethoven-Saal, Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Liederhalle, Stuttgart on April 27,
written by Frank Armbruster for Stuttgarter Zeitung.

Original review

(Quote)
Deep insight into the music

For 30 years no more Pole won the Chopin Competition after Krystian Zimerman until Rafal Blechacz came up in 2005, reaping not only the first prize, but also four special prizes of the jury. Even though it is probably coincidence: that now Blechacz played the last concert of the master pianist series and Zimerman will open the new season in September, is an evocative constellation, connecting the two once more in addition to the competitive success. Not only both like to arrive in their own car to the concerts, they are also considered tenacious. While Zimerman has at times even withdrawn completely from the concert scene, Blechacz insists on not playing more than 40 concerts a year. He wants to have enough time to prepare.

This pays off when he was now heard in his acclaimed solo recital at the Beethovensaal. Blechacz begins with Bach's third Partita in A minor. Highly complex music, which preserved only geste and basic metrics from the traditional dance-forms and Blechacz discloses their contrapuntal structures with a plasticity, as is accustomed only by big Bach interpreters like Perahia or Schiff. Every voice emerges consistently articulated, as Blechacz can let individual voices evident time and again. He tones down repetitions again, plays with ornamentations. The soft-voiced Steinway sparkles like a jewel.

In Beethoven's Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op 10/3, it is above all in the Largo e mesto, where Blechacz’s singular talent is obvious. He brings the metaphysical dimension of this movement to this poignant expression throughout it, by renouncing the conventional espressivo maneuver, with which slow movements are usually charged. Blechacz trusts only the expression of the notes and text.

Not only here one feels that the young pianist can look deeper into the music than most of his colleagues. In Debussy's Suite bergamasque, Blechacz converts in the footsteps of great magicians such as Benedetti Michelangeli, in that he lets poetic element of these sketches, fragrance, colors and images turn into sound by means of a stupendous ability of imagination. One experiences the "Menuet" as tenderly transfigured apotheosis of dance, and in the mechanical music box of "Passepied", even Ravel, Debussy's colleague, appears around the corner.

And then Szymanowski's First Sonata: Blechacz defines himself as an advocate for the still-underrated music of his compatriot, he plays with pianistic bravura and the border exploding impetus, which reveals the composer as soul mate of Scriabin and Liszt.

As an encore he played two of Chopin's mazurkas, in which it’s difficult to describe perfection. One must have heard it.
(Unquote)


*****
Another review written by Annette Eckerle for Eßlinger Zeitung

Original review
(Registration is needed.)


Review of Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowski (Luxemburg)

Review of Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowski written by Remy Franck for Pizzicato, a music magazine in Luxemburg.


(Quote)
Blechacz, piano; 1 CD Deutsche Grammophon 477 9548; 1/11 (63')

His last CD (Haydn) had bored me, but here Blechacz is in his element. For Debussy, he has not only fine, clear colors, nuances, shades as well as power and virtuosity to certainly shape style, but also the spark that truly ignites the music and projects it inspiring, evocative in the ears.

The two Szymanowski works are also played very well. For the Sonata, the pianist finds in the outer movements dramatic, propulsive and urgent force, for the Adagio, necessary calmness and for minuet, a relaxed playful tone with absolutely personal touch. In addition, a comprehensive music making architecturally thought out.

The piano sounds splendidly and was recorded in an unadulterated, natural sound. From a recording technology, this is one of the best recordings I've heard in recent months.
(Unquote)


*****
Original text
Seine letzte CD (Haydn) hatte mich gelangweilt, doch hier ist Blechacz in seinem Element. Für Debussy hat er nicht nur die feinen, klaren Farben, die Nuancen, die Schattierungen sowie die Kraft und die Virtuosität, um stilsicher zu gestalten, sondern auch den Funken, der die Musik wirklich entzündet und inspirierend und evokativ ins Ohr projiziert.

Die beiden Szymanowski-Werke werden ebenfalls ganz hervorragend gespielt. Für die Sonate findet der Pianist in den Ecksätzen die dramatische, vorwärts drängende Kraft, für das Adagio die nötige Ruhe und für das Menuett einen entspannt verspielten Ton mit durchaus persönlichem Touch. Hinzu kommt ein übergreifendes, architektonisch denkendes Musizieren.

Das Klavier klingt prächtig und wurde in einem unverfälscht natürlichen Klangbild aufgenommen. Von der Aufnahmetechnik her ist dies eine der besten Einspielungen, die ich in den letzten Monaten gehört habe.
RéF

Review of Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowski - The Observer (UK)

Review of Rafał Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowski, written by Nicholas Kenyon for The Observer (UK), a Sunday National paper and a sister paper of The Guardian.

Original review posted on guardian.co.uk

(Quote)
The young Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz won all five first prizes in the Warsaw Chopin piano competition in 2005 but has since been in and out of the limelight: this finely characterised recital will surely place him centre stage once more. His Debussy is transparent, pure, yet not lacking in depth, driven with impetus and excitement. The real finds here, however, are the two early works by Karol Szymanowski (before his music absorbed its full measure of folk influences): virtuoso pianism at full stretch. The influence of Liszt's Sonata is perhaps too evident in Szymanowski's last-movement fugue, but the music sustains a rugged individuality right through to the final slightly banal climax.
(Unquote)

*****
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Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com

Exquisite recital in Stuttgart

On April 27, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital @Beethoven-Saal, Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Liederhalle, Stuttgart.


A blog post by one of the audience members (a Japanese living there) writes;

"The biggest hall was almost full.....A big surprise that the Steinway's sound is so different tonight from the one I heard from XX (a pianist name) a few days ago!  How light, gorgeous and colorful when he plays Bach and Beethoven!  I WANT to hear him playing Chopin next time!  While he was playing Debussy, my daughter was smiling and said she was very satisfied because Blechacz created all sound in a way she wanted to hear.  He had a moment of playfulness letting the audience smile.  His interpretation of Szymanowski was lucid and convincing.  I thought that it reflected on his personality....We were lucky to be able to get tickets tonight.  I really very much want to listen to Blechacz's recital again....."

Apr 28, 2012

CD Review by Frankfurter Neue Presse

By Michael Dellith

original review

(Quote)
Moments of poetry on the piano

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

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

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

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




Apr 27, 2012

Universal Italia reporting Blechacz awarded by Gramophone Magazine (Italy)

Universal Music Italia reports that the Gramophone's Recording of the month (May 2012) went to Rafał Blechacz's Debussy Szymanowski.

Universal Music Italia


(Quote)

THE CD OF RAFAŁ BLECHACZ DEDICATED TO “DEBUSSY AND SZYMANOWSKI” IS "RECORDING OF THE MONTH" OF GRAMOPHONE

With a review of two full pages, the prestigious Gramophone Magazine elects the new CD by Rafał Blechacz dedicated to Debussy and Szymanowski "Recording of the Month" in the May issue.

A great proof of esteem which, through the detailed comments by the critic Jeremy Nicholas, underlines the maturity of the young Polish interpreter who jumped to the top of the international concert scene after winning the Chopin Competition in 2005.

In "Pour le Piano" by Debussy, Blechacz "... has little inclination to bathe the passagework in an impressionistic haze, as many players do, choosing to emphasise the virtuosity of the writing and reminding us how much Debussy learnt from Liszt.". In "Estampes" he appreciates "the warm sensuality - especially in" La Soirée dans Grenade ", preferable to the chilly objectivity of Michelangeli, paradoxically one of Blechacz’s idols, while "L'isle Joyeuse" leads us, quietly, naturally, into the sound world of Szymanowski.".

And just in "Sonata no.1”, rich in influences by Chopin and Strauss, where Blechacz surprises once again by the ability to dissect the complex structure; " Szymanowski’s music has never courted popularity and it needs a pianist of Blechacz’s high profile and stylistic authority to bring it to the forefront, to play it in concert and to establish it as part of the repertoire "

The critique concludes with an appreciation to Deutsche Grammophon,
" full marks to DG for backing its young star."

(Unquote)

Apr 26, 2012

CD review - Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany) etc...



Review of Rafał Blechacz's CD Debussy Szymanowski written by Jan Brachmann, published by Frankfurter Allgemeine April 19.


Titled "Kühl, klar, entschlossen" (Cool, clear and decisive)
Click the image to see the text.



Another short review posted on LimelightMagazine, Australia









*****
Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com

Apr 23, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's interview for TVP (Poland) (Video)

TVP broadcast Rafał Blechacz's interview on April 21 and the whole program was uploaded on Youtube.

Prawdę mówiąc - Rafał Blechacz: kocham grać na fortepianie
(To tell the truth - Rafał Blechacz: I love playing piano)



The interview was filmed at Hotel pod Orłem**, Bydgoszcz where Artur Rubinstein stayed and played piano five decades ago.  During this clip, Blechacz touches and plays the piano.  Also you'll have a glimpse of young Blechacz playing Mozart, at age of 9 and 19; the latter: Concerto No.23, conductor: Jerzy Maksymiuk, orchestra: Symphonia Varsovia.

The interviewer's questions are mainly focused on music, especially Chopin's.  The following website provides transcript of about 80 % of the conversation.


interview transcript


(Quote from the transcript)
The sound serves conveying feelings

Author: Krzysztof Ziemiec, "To tell the truth"

- This is probably the most beautiful in the instrumental music that has no words. It has sounds and with the help of these sounds, we can deliver a lot of things. Each listener can fill a work with your emotions, your associations, your memories - Rafał Blechacz said in an interview with Krzysztof Ziemiec in the program Prawdę mówiąc (to tell the truth).

Krzysztof Ziemiec: Mr. Rafał Blechacz, we are in a special place because it is a hotel "Pod Orłem (The Eagle)" in Bydgoszcz, in which he played, lived for a while and it still has an apartment of his name, Artur Rubinstein.



Rafał Blechacz: Yes, that's right. Rubinstein visited Bydgoszcz in 1960 and played a recital at the Philharmonic here. He actually stayed in this hotel.

Have you ever played the piano of Rubinstein, which is here in the apartment?

No, I haven’t. Today, for the first time.

I invite you. Let's go upstairs, it stands there.

All right, thank you.


Do you feel respect, sitting at the piano, which Arthur Rubinstein played?

It is probably just such a magical moment in which we can somehow come into contact with this - remembrance of great arts, great masters.

Do you feel that you are a celebrity?

No, I do not feel I’m a celebrity, because serious music, classical music may not be at such a highest level of people’s interest, as is the case for example in other fields.

But there are many interviews, television, and also you have a fan club. At least one, but maybe more!

Yes. This is official fan club in Japan, which follows me when I'm at concerts in that country. And also a part of this fan club comes for several concerts in Europe.

And sometimes these fans do not give you peace?

Well, this is a nice fan club ...

But one of the girls made a marriage proposal to you.

It was at a press conference at the Polish embassy. She was Japanese, who actually proposed in Japanese, and it was translated. And she wanted to be such a wife in Japan.

Meaning it is somewhat without obligation!

Uh, I do not know. Then fortunately, my artistic agency that organizes my concerts proved to be useful. And my manager said that for now I'm at the beginning of my career, because it was shortly after the Chopin Competition, and they really would like me to be focused on playing a particular repertoire in Japan, and any other non-musical things can come a little later.

And why Chopin attracts? Why he charms? After all, Chopin attracts not only Poles, not only Europeans, but perhaps even especially Japanese.

I think it is a peculiar connection of beautiful melody with harmony to a certain state of melancholy, which is very close to Japanese. I think they perceive music of Frederic Chopin through a prism of his personality, which is in a sense melancholic. And when they, for example, meet with Chopin’s music - mazurkas, waltzes and nocturnes, which carries in itself a very strong element of lyrical, beautiful melodies, they are very often moved when in touch with his music.


What was the beginning? When your dad saw that you had potential and made you sit at the piano and said, 'This note is here, my son, this is the key "?

No, my dad tells me what he noted; that in particular these melodies that I heard for example in the church or on television, I started playing by hearing. Later, and also at the beginning, it was only right hand, or one voice melody, and then I started playing with two hands, and selecting specific accompaniment to the given melody. And my dad noticed that it was already predisposed.

So nobody made you show that you can play with two hands and you came up with this idea by yourself?

Yes.

How old were you?

I was 4 or 5 and then 6 years old.

Genius, an inborn genius!

My father discovered the absolute pitch that I have. It just happened very spontaneously, because he played it for himself and I suddenly started to say how he played sounds, even chords which he played later. I was able to name all components of each chord without looking at the keyboard. Well, it was also a determinant that something must be done and music education should be undertaken.

What does it take to become a virtuoso? I guess, however, talent and absolute pitch is very important, but perhaps it's not enough, right?

Of course, talent alone, or perfect hearing is not enough. You need systematic work, work day-to-day work, which allows you to master a piece immaculately, perfectly from technical aspect, and which later allows you to deal with what is most important in the interpretation, namely, music making; searching for different, interesting details, colors of sound, studying, and so on and so forth.

If I ask you mathematically – what percentage is for talent, what percentage is for luck and hard work?

Ignacy Jan Paderewski said that 90 percent of it is hard work, 6 percent is talent and 4 percent luck. Well, I'd probably agree with it.

Today as a grown man, don’t you feel a little something like this; that for all that, you were buried under the shade? That you were not in contact with your peers and colleagues, that somewhere these contacts were broken by force, that you don’t have what you could have obtained?

No, I do not recognize it. Because actually I have very pleasant memory of childhood. I could always do what I liked most, and what I loved most - playing the piano. I suppose if someone had told me to do something else, then my memory would be slightly worse.

So if instead of the piano you were kicking a ball it would not be so good?

I also played a ball a bit, and have very pleasant memory of riding a bike, talking with peers. I had a normal life in the playground.

In which year did you think of the Chopin Competition for the first time and thought “I can start”?

I thought about it already as a child. Of course I watched various reports from earlier Chopin Competitions, I followed all the Chopin Competitions, and somewhere such thoughts appeared that could be used in future to try my ability at this contest.

And the great luck came in 2005. You were the undisputed leader and winner of the Chopin Competition. And probably it was the biggest breakthrough in your career, right? In your work, and your professional path so far.

Definitely yes. It was the biggest challenge in my artistic life.


(Here Blechacz talks about the competition; that he put himself separated from the atmosphere of the competition, the big joy and excitement when winning it, how his life changed dramatically and so on. I’m skipping three questions and answers because I believe these are the things that many of you already know very well.)


And how can you explain to a layperson what the power of this piece, its message is? Because when someone like me listens to popular or entertainment music, - there is also a text, sometimes wise, sometimes less wise, but it talks about something. In this music, there is no text. There is only music, notes written on the score. In this music to capture this power, the message, what does an artist want to tell us?

I generally think that this is probably the most beautiful in the instrumental music that has no words. It has sounds and with the help of these sounds, we can deliver a lot of things. Each listener can fill a work with your emotions, your associations, your memories

Ingolf Wunder, the man who was touted by the public two years ago as a laureate of the last Chopin Competition, says about you, that you are an intellectual musician, and he is more emotional. Is this right?

For me, emotions play a very important role in music, while the balance between intellectual sphere in music and emotional sphere is very important.

And what does it mean that someone interprets in an emotional way, and how he talks about you is, in an intellectual way? The layman does not differentiate it completely.

Some interpretations that are focused solely on emotions could spoil the work itself a bit, its structure. They could explode inside the form, for example, the form of sonnets, when we present a classical sonata. However, a role of intuition here is very important to keep style of composer, style of Chopin and to show some emotions in the piece that are emotions of the performer. Because the piece, sounds are used to show their feelings.

Mr. Rafał Blechacz, you are extremely busy person. It was very difficult for us to arrange to meet with you. Do you have something to spend your time in your life? Do you have time to relax?

Yes, of course! Well every Christmas and Easter holidays I spend at home with my family. This is already a tradition that cannot be otherwise.

How many concerts a year does such a star like you give?

I do not play a lot of concerts in a season. Approximately forty-five to fifty.

And what does Rafał Blechacz do after hours? Fishing, riding a motorcycle?

I like reading books, I like riding a bike. Before Chopin Competition I remember that I practiced jogging a little to strengthen me physically, to survive this period of Chopin Competition, to plan well my physical strength, with good mental disposition for this event. And indeed it helps.

The pianist performing works by Chopin, Szymanowski and Debussy listens to anything other than classical music at all?

If you come to me some other signals from other non-classical music, entertainment music, are only through radio or television that I sometimes see.

How do you evaluate, receive those tracks that are dropped often on the radio?

Hard to say. This is not something that I concentrate on, somehow not close to me.

But you then disable the radio, in case of a hit-song?

No, not always. Sometimes it is also very cool music and you can relax at most.

I have the impression that a large part of the audience and some jurors like those artists who give shock, or a dress, or performance or behavior on stage. You don’t belong to this group. It's good or bad? You are the one who adopts the principle that you’ll never give shocks, that you’ll be a natural artist?

No, it's not a rule, not a planned strategy. This is probably the result of what I feel inside me, internally. It is perhaps also my personality that controversy has never something close to me. And I think that in music, in the presentation of specific works of a composer, for me it is important that this composer is always most important to us and to show his works, and not to destroy it just in order to give shocks to somehow attract attention. A piece of music is to some degree schematically written. We cannot read everything from the score so unambiguously. And these vague places request the performer for individual fulfillment. Everyone has a lot of artistic freedom to be able to present his individual interpretation.

And how is the calendar of Rafał Blechacz for the coming months, years?

The calendar is quite busy. Currently I’m planning for 2014. About seventy percent has been already planned. One proposal recently came in 2015, so it's quite long term. It’s not so shocking as was shocking to me just after the Chopin Competition.

It is almost inconceivable in the real world to plan so distant future!

Well, I feel rather optimistic, because it is an assurance that I will have a job.

Does philosophy is a springboard from music, and maybe it has been for some time? Because you are working for doctorate in philosophy.

Yes, that's right. Philosophy is a springboard, but it is also the next inspiration.

From where this idea came, because it seems to me that philosophy and music are not connected in a straightforward manner.

I am very focused on the philosophy of music. In these texts, however, I treat work of art, artistic subject and aesthetic subject. And here it is already very close to music, even to those aspects which I deal with every day.

As such a virtuoso, an artist, how do you feel more stress? Do you feel fear before audience, before concert?

If there is stress, it is a good state of situation. If there is no, one might wonder if it is a routine, if there are a lot of concerts in the artistic season. On the other hand, when there is a certain state of excitement, desire to go onto the stage and present interpretation to the audience who came to listen to me, this is a positive phenomenon.

Do you have some way to deal with this stress, to mitigate and reduce the overwhelming situation?





No, I have never had such strong emotions that I had to somehow mitigate. It is always such a desire, which drives me towards going on the stage and present the work.

In one of the interviews, you once said that your way to deal with stress is prayer, but I guess it was so. Now you no longer have stress?

Prayer, or faith is a very important sphere in my life. And not only it is helpful in a variety of stressful situations in life, but also is the basis on which I can build more concrete things. And in all the challenges, not only artistic ones, but also in life, it is the surest solution, the surest support. It is something that always brings relief.

Like Adam Malysz who on jumping made the sign of the cross, you offer prayer out there in the soul to work out well.

Yes, of course. I pray before every artistic challenge, before every challenge in life, but also when I don’t have challenges, of course, I pray every day, like every Catholic.


Rafał Blechacz - world-famous pianist. Victory in the Chopin Competition in 2005 opened the door to an international career. Gives concerts throughout the world, but still lives near Bydgoszcz
(Unquote)

*****
 (Note: ".......not evertyhign is quite well in English but there is nothing languagewise that would make it misunderstood or wrongly understood".  by a Pole who checked this English translation.)




Beautiful recital in Wels

On April 22, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital in Stadttheater Wels, Austria.


"Rafał just finished and the applause was enormous already after the first part and shouts "Bravo! Bravo!" were heard from all the corners of the venue. After he finished it was an outburst of applause. Rafał played two encores."


Apr 21, 2012

CD review by Thueringer- allgemeine (Germany)

Review of Blechacz's Debussy Szymanowski, written by Anne Zeuner, posted on Thueringer- allgemeine.de.

Original Review

(Quote)
Piano works: Blechacz interprets Debussy and Szymanowski

Pianistic brilliance can be heard when Rafał Blechacz sits down at his instrument. So also can be heard in his most recent recording - pieces by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) on "Piano works".


The pianist himself wanted to show with the selection a contrast between impressionism and expressionism. And he succeeds in this with his intimate style of play.

Blechacz can translate Debussy’s colors into tone, into sound that is unique. He creates moving moments. Silence. Suddenly the quietness blooms, standing up into a warren of polyphony to enter into a completely new rhythm. All of a sudden triad appears, splashing around, until a whole new atmosphere is created. A new color results. With all the skills of fingers, which the pianist proves, he doesn’t lose the delicacy from the eyes, the dream, which constitutes the essence of Debussy's music.

Each piece develops its own unique atmosphere, which Blechacz works out in a unique way. Here, the interpreter has selected Debussy's two short cycles: "Pour le Piano" and "Estampes". In the play of the young Pole, a nearly sublime attitude can be heard in the sounds of music. In "L'Isle de Joyeuse," he completely immersed again into the world of Debussy's iridescent colors. Here he also proves intuitive sense for tempos.

Music of Karol Szymanowski bears significantly expressionistic character. Blechacz plays "Prelude and Fugue" in C sharp minor and the "Sonata" in C minor. The sound language of this music is filled with emotions. One hears longing, esprit, inspiration. Especially in the early originated Minuet in C minor sonata, one hears optimism. It is a positive work. The entire piece carries in itself something colossal. It has the typical shape of a Beethoven sonata, but is implemented by means of expressionist, which Blechacz works out wonderfully.

The flow of playing never breaks off, is full of nuances, while at the same time organically revealed by the pianist. Blechacz‘s playing is, because of his age, often youthful and somewhat stormy, yet it never lacks necessary sensitivity. This recording is converted into sound poetry. Music of dreaming. Absolutely worthy of listening to.
(Unquote)

Big ovation in Heidelberg

On April 20 Rafał Blechacz gave a recital @Kongresshaus Stadthalle, Heidelberg.

"Friday, April 20, Rafał gave a recital in Heidelberg. Already after the first part there was a big ovation and after the entire rcital there was an enormous applause with Bravos! Bravos! Rafał responded with two encores!"
(R.F.)

Apr 20, 2012

Review of Blechacz's recital in Hamburg Laeiszhalle (Germany)

A review of Rafał Blechacz's reciatal at Laeiszhall on April 18, by Welt on-line (Die Welt)

Original review

The pianist decrypted Fantasia.

Rafał Blechacz, born in 1985, is one of the really outstanding talents of the young pianist scene. In every beat of his interpretations one can sense the presence of paramount perspective. What the Polish virtuoso plays is filled with spirit and heart. For his Pro-Arte-recital on Wednesday at the Musikhalle Blechacz had the Piano Sonata No.1 Op 8 by his compatriot Karol Szymanowski in the program.

Without edges and pressure Blechacz developed the tremendous Fuga Allegro energico in the final, which he had introduced with a delicately sounded Adagio. Claude Debussy's Suite bergamasque with the timeless classical masterpiece "Clair de Lune" was sounded before. If it was about shades of color in all gradations on this occasion, Bach’s Partita No. 3 in A minor BWV 827 at the very beginning of the evening required the clear drawing of vocal lines. A tremendous appeal already unfolded the introductory Fantasia, in which Blechacz disclosed complex structures.

However, the real highlight of Blechacz's recital was Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op 10/3. Blechacz worked out impressively the impetuosity of the first movement and then switched in the Largo e mesto to depression, stepping towards the energy discharge of extraordinary contrast. With incredible soft-touch, however, Blechacz expelled again these dark clouds through a sublime, noble theme. The dramatic gesture, the succinct Rondo theme at the end and the change in mood gladly played by Beethoven needed Blechacz’s resourceful formations.

*****
This is a review of his recital in Hannover, April 16 by Neue Presse
"With Blechacz's piano across five sound worlds"

Original review
English by google translate










*****
(podcast)
Rafał Blechacz's recital at BOZAR, Brussels, is still available on RTBF - Musiq3.
The program includes these pieces by Bach, Beethoven and Szymanowski.


Apr 19, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's disc selected Gramophone's Recording of the Month, May2012

Blechacz's CD Debussy Syzmanowski was selected as the Recording of the Month by the Gramophone Magazine May 2012.




Recording of the Month

‘He has little inclination to bathe the passagework in an impressionistic haze as many do, choosing to emphasise the virtuosity of the writing’

Rafał Blechacz’s fourth DG recording has revelations aplenty for Jeremy Nicholas

I thought this was going to be a disc of two halves. In fact, it is more of a continuous journey – and a most rewarding, artfully conceived one it is, too. Rafał Blechacz shot to prominence when he won all five first prizes at the 15th Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2005. Six months before that event, he had recorded some Debussy (Suite bergamasque) and Szymanowski (Variations, Op 3), two further composers with whom he clearly has an innate affinity. Such empathy is reinforced by this, his fourth recording for DG, with which he has been since 2006 (he’s only the second Polish artist after Krystian Zimerman to be signed by the label).

All are relatively early works, and composed within the first decade of the 20th century. I love Blechacz’s crisp articulation and lightly pedaled bustle in the outer movements of Pour le piano (an arresting, impetuous opening to the ‘Prélude’ and wonderful jeu perlé in its final page). He has little inclination to bathe the passagework in an impressionistic haze, as many players do (‘Prélude’, ‘Sarabande’ and ‘Toccata’, the titles of the three movements, are, after all, formal classical titles and not those of tone-poems), choosing to emphasise the virtuosity of the writing and reminding us how much Debussy learnt from Liszt. No less, but for different reasons, did I enjoy Estampes, written just two years later (1903) but occupying a very different sound world. Here the piano becomes a painter evoking places and events, and Blechacz reacts accordingly with playing of beguiling, warm sensuality (try ‘La soirée dans Grenade’), preferable to my ears to the chilly objectivity of Michelangeli, paradoxically one of Blechacz’s idols. ‘Jardins sous la pluie’ is truly net et vif with some hailstones in the downpour. The blazing end of L’isle joyeuse leads us, after a pause, quietly, naturally, into the parallel sound world of Szymanowski.

Piano as painter: Rafał Blechacz in Debussy's Estampes

I’m sure it’s coincidence that both works chosen by Blechacz featured in competitions: the Prélude (1909) and (four-voice) Fugue (1905) in C sharp minor won second prize in a 1909 competition sponsored by the Berlin musical journal Signale für die Musikalische Welt (the Prélude was added specifically for the occasion). Busoni, who was on the jury, mistook it, bizarrely, for a work by Schoenberg (he was quickly disabused by the latter); to my ears there is more than a hint of Scriabin and the labyrinthine counterpoint of Reger in its classically inspired textures. Slight and unrepresentative of Szymanowski’s later style though it may be, it is an attractive short work and beautifully played.


A full 20 seconds of silence follow before the early Sonata in C minor, Op 8, where the influences of Chopin, Scriabin, Richard Strauss and others are more obvious. This was Szymanowski’s first big cyclic work, written between 1903 and 1904 while he was studying with Zygmunt Noskowski, and which subsequently in 1910 received first prize in a competition organised by the Chopin Centenary Committee at Lwów. Once championed by Szymanowski’s friend Arthur Rubinstein, but by too few pianists since, it is a strikingly effective recital piece. Its four movements last over 25 minutes, beginning with an Allegro moderato that clearly takes its lead from Chopin. An emotionally charged Adagio is followed by a look back to earlier times with a Minuet. One can sense Szymanowski’s growing sense of confidence as the work progresses: the final movement has a portentous introduction succeeded by an impressive three-voice fugue. This works to a thrilling climax before a somewhat overwrought coda.

Whatever its shortcomings, it’s a better work than Chopin’s C minor Sonata and, though it lacks memorable themes, is far less daunting (to hear and to play) than either Szymanowski’s Second or Third Sonata. Of the few alternatives available of Op 8, the recording by Raymond Clarke (Divine Art, 9/99) is spoken of highly but I have heard only Martin Roscoe’s (Naxos, 10/00) and Martin Jones's (Nimbus, 9/94). Blechacz’s has the edge on them as much for his fierce emotional engagement with the music as for the superior sound quality.


"Championed by too few":
Szymanowski's first sonata
Szymanowski’s music has never courted popularity with the public and his name is not one that sells records. The Sonata is the kind of work that needs a pianist of Blechacz’s high profile and stylistic authority to bring it to the forefront, to play it in concert and to establish it as part of the repertoire. So full marks to DG for backing its young star, and fingers crossed that his performance may provide an accessible and rewarding entrance point to those wanting to investigate Szymanowski in the year that we mark the 75th anniversary of his death.

My one complaint about this outstanding issue is DG’s dismal booklet and presentation. There are no background notes on the music or its composers, and little on the gifted artist who has taken the trouble to play it. If it’s an attempt to be cool and modish, it doesn’t work, coming across as discourteous to both artist and customer.

Listening points 
Your guide to the disc’s memorable moments

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.

Track 1 :3’00” 
The ‘Prélude’ ends with a quasi-cadenza consisting of a series of featherlight runs in the treble, which Blechacz dispatches with miraculous evenness and fluency.

Track 4: ‘Pagodes’ from Estampes 
Note how Blechacz now changes the sound of the piano in this depiction of the Javanese dances that Debussy heard at the Universal Exhibition of 1900. There’s a particularly evocative passage from 1’59” to 3’10”.

Track 10: Piano Sonata, Allegro moderato
After the tumultuous opening of the Sonata, Szymanowski introduces a second subject at 1’08” by the same means as Chopin did in the first movement of his B minor Sonata.

Track 11: Piano Sonata, Adagio
The way Blechacz handles this movement seems like a natural extension of his Chopin-playing.

Track 14: Piano Sonata, Fuga
The start of the fugue’s recapitulation at 4’14” introduces a densely contrapuntal passage of increasing tension, lucidly voiced and dynamically graded by Blechacz.


prestoclassical.co.uk, reporting the award

Japanese

*****
Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com







Blechacz's interviews (Germany)

Interview for Fono Forum May 2012.
English by google translate



















Interview on fnweb.de, April 19 for recital in Heidelberg
English by google translate


Great, solitary man in nature:
Pianist Rafał Blechacz

























**This caption of the photo gave me an idea for the first time about why the photo was included in the CD booklet.

Memorable evening in Laeiszhalle Hamburg

Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Laeiszhalle, Hamburg, on April 18.

"Rafal's recital in Laeiszhalle in Hamburg tonight was very very enthusiastically received by the demanding Hamburg public! Even before the intermission, as the final note was sounding away a big applause erupted! At the end there was again a storm of clapping, and clapping, and clapping and many people rose to make their clapping resonate even better. Two encores!"
(R.F.)


Posted via iPhone

Apr 18, 2012

Rafał Blechacz is playing in Hamburg (preview, Germany)

A recital preview of Rafał Blechacz written by Tom R. Schulz of Hamburger Abendblatt on April 18.

Original preview from Hamburger Abendblatt 
English by google translate

".....In fact to him nothing is more important than time and again finding a fragile balance of intellect and heart and transforming it into sound...."

**
A very interesting article.  You can feel the noble aura of Blechacz.

Rafał Blechacz in Hannover, April 16

From Hannoversche Allgemeine

The Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz enchanted the audience with his brilliant play in the Pro Musica concert

The same article from Pro Musica.



Hannoversche Allgemeine as of April 18.

Apr 17, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's first recital in Hannover (preview, Germany)

From Hannoversche Allgemeine, on April 13,
as a preview of Blechacz's recital in Hannover on April 16.













(Brief outline – not translation)
Chopin Champion Rafał Blechacz comes to Hannover for the first time - but without Chopin

After touching upon his absolute victory in the 2005 Chopin Competition, the article describes how Blechacz has been careful not to be labeled a Chopin specialist by having his second CD for Deutsche Grammophon dedicated to Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven and now having a tour in Germany, playing Debussy and Szymanowski as well as Bach and Beethoven. With Bach Blechacz’s "artist's life" began. At age of 11, he won the Bach Competition. And the polyphony of Bach is important for him to play other composers including Chopin.

Sept 19, 2011 from Pro Musica FB


His studies of philosophy enables him to land fast on details of music, exemplified by the sharp contrast he introduced in the latest CD between Debussy and Szymanowski music. His thoughtful attitude is reflected on the fact that he came to Hannover in September 2011 to probe the available pianos for the recital here. (He is very different from his mentor Krystian Zimerman who brings his own instrument with him during tours.) Blechacz had in mind for his Hanover recital two differently tuned Steinways. But after that he thought it again. Probably he will play the Steinway from Hamburg. It will be exciting not only for that.


(Original text)
Den Internationalen Chopin Wettbewerb in Warschau zu gewinnen ist schon ein Kunststück. Wenn man gerade mal 20 Jahre alt ist und obendrein als Pole ein Heimspiel hat, dann ist das noch bemerkenswerter. Aber was der jungenhafte, fast zerbrechlich wirkende Rafal Blechacz 2005 verbuchen konnte, ist schon singular. Er wurde Erster, die Konkurrenten wurden von der Jury auf Abstand gehalten: Es gab erstmals keinen zweiten Preis. Und Blechacz bekam auch noch die Sonderpreise für die beste Konzertinterpretation, die beste Polonaise und die beste Mazurka – noch immer liegen ihm die Mazurken besonders am Herzen.

Natürlich wollten danach alle Chopin vom Chopin Champion hören, aber Blechacz achtete darauf, nicht als Spezialist abgestempelt zu werden. Schon seine zweite Solo CD für die renommierte Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft galt Haydn, Mozart und Beethoven. Und auf der kurzen Deutschland Tournee, die Blechacz jetzt gibt, präsentiert er nicht nur Debussz und Szymanowski, die auch auf seiner aktuellen CD zu hören sind, sondern auch Bach und Beethoven. Mit Bach hat für Blechacz das „Künstlerleben“ begonnen: Mit fünf Jahren hatte er den ersten Klavierunterricht bekommen, aber erst mit elf Jahren entschloss er sich, Pianist zu werden : „Damals habe ich eien Bach Wettbewerb gewonnen und noch nicht an Chopin gedacht.“ Erst mit 14 oder 15 habe er die er und Chopin zusammenpassen. Dass Chopin seinerseits die Polyfonie Bachs wichtig nahm, hat diese Annäherung sicherlich erleichtert. Auch beim polnischen Komponisten Karol Szymanowski schätzt Blechacz dessen spielerischen Umgang mit der Polyfonie.

Ein Gespräch mit dem jungen bedächtig argumentierenden Blechacz, der auch Philosophie studiert, landet schnell beim musikalischen Detail, bei zusammenhängen und Kontrasten etwa zwischen Debussy und Szymanowski. Maximal vier Dutzend Konzerte gibt er pro Jahr. Wie sorgfältig er arbeitet, zeigt sich auch daran, dass er im September 2011 in Hannover war, um die zur verfügung stehenden Steinway Flügel anzuhören. Ganz so weit wie sein Mentor (und Chopin Wettbewerbssieger) Krzstian Zimerman, der nur mit eigenem Konzertflügel reist, will er nicht gehen. Aber für sein Hannover Konzert schwebten ihm doch zwei unterschiedlich gestimmte Steinways vor. Mittlerweile hat er noch einmal nachgedacht. Wahrscheinlich spielt er nun doch einen Steinway aus der Steinway Metropole Hamburg. Nicht nur deshalb bleibt es spannend.

*****
Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to www.blechaczinfo.com





Ein atemberaubender Abend! : A breathtaking evening in Hannover

On April 16, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital in NDR Großer Sendesaal, Hannover.

"It was a beautiful playing for Rafał in Hannover. The audience was enthusiastic and the applause was like a request for more. So Rafał played two encores! "
(R.F.)

Posted via iPhone

If it went as was scheduled, he must have played the piano from Laeiszhalle, Hamburg, the instrument that he used for recording the album Debussy Szymanowski.

Program: Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and Szymanowski.
His next recital will be in  Laeiszhalle, Hamburg, on April 18.

******
After the recital, Rafał @autographic session.
"Rafał beim signing nach dem Konzert. Ein atemberaubender Abend!"
(From ProMusica Facebook)



Apr 15, 2012

Webradio broadcast, April 17

RTBF - Musiq3 plans to broadcast Rafał Blechacz's recital at BOZAR, Brussels on March 14

on April 17, @20:00 (CET)












Musiq3 program page



**The planned broadcast program is subject to cancellation/change without prior notice.


The recital is available via podcast for the next three weeks. ←New

Apr 14, 2012

Wishing for wonderful, beautiful recitals for Rafał and his German audiences


Rafał Blechacz will give four recitals in Germany in the latter half of this months.


April 16, 2012
Großer Sendesaal,Hannover
ProMusica

April 18, 2012
Laeiszhalle, Hamburg
ProArte (a beautiful pamphlet ♥)

April 20, 2012
Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg
Heidelberg Spring Festival

April 27, 2012
Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Liederhalle (Beethoven-Saal), Stuttgart
Stuttgart.de


Laeszhalle, Hamburg

(From ProMusica)
"It's for me about being as close as possible with the music." Blechacz says about his play and you can hear it too. The young Polish pianist is the winner of the Chopin Competition in 2005 and because of this a Chopin specialist in a sense. However that he also may be very close to the music of Bach and Debussy, he has already proven many times: “[by Bach] the audience hears and enters into a wonderland of fine magical sounds" and "[by Debussy] will be immersed in the beautiful world as soon as his poetic keys sound. " (Stuttgarter Nachrichten). Watch a report on Rafał Blechacz (English video) from Deutsche Welle.


*****
Related story from concerti.de
"He sees sounds as colors."


*****
Hannoversche Allgemeine, on April 13






Beautiful review of Blechacz's Debussy Szymanowski (Norway)

A CD review posted on dagsavisen.no, a Norwegian website today.

"Here is an exceptional talent of this young Polish pianist. He has, as far as I know, never visited our country at high latitudes. I hope not last long  he pays us a visit".

Original review (Norwegian) 
English by google translate

(Excerpt of the paragraph related to the latest CD)

Blechacz is a pianist with an unusual technique. But he does not use it for the same stormy sky as Argerich or Horowitz. His advance is like a row of sparkling pearls. He plays legato, but also non-legato in a way rarely heard before. And his playing often creates a more intimate atmosphere. It is very evident on his latest release, where he opens up new aspects of his talent. Here the focus is in fact the great master of Impressionist Debussy and Belchacz’s compatriot Karol Szymanowski who has been undeservedly lesser-known. A composer who has never achieved wide audience's full attention, despite a significant creative talent. We hear Debussy's "Pour le Piano" and "Estampes," pieces composed around the same time. Around the year 1900, but already were shown the imagination and the sound registry that Debussy painted on his music. The first, which is masterful miniatures based on Debussy's love for and knowledge of the earlier forms. The latter has moods with titles like "Pagodas" and "Gardens in the rain." And the sound paintings of worldwide extension do not seem to pose any problems for Blechacz’s ability to express extensive musical nuances. Moreover, he reveals a sense of form that was not seen in many pianists before. Szymanowski is represented by two early works from around the same time as Debussy’s small cycles. Prelude and fugue and the sonata. And in Blechacz’s masterful hands, this is quiet and intimate matters. Sonata shows that Szymanowsky also liked the older forms.

In other words: Features of the Week shows enough the exceptional talent of this young Polish pianist is. He has, as far as I know, never visited our latitudes. I hope not last long he pays us a visit.
(End of excerpt)


**I have NO knowledge of Norwegian, so this English is a copy from google translate with a few modifications of words; eg, game→playing. It's surprising that google translate produces such a decent English from Norwegian, which I usually don't experience with other languages...

Apr 13, 2012

Claude Debussy 150th Anniversary - by Deutsche Grammophon (audiio)

From Claude Debussy 150th Anniversary - Deutsche Grammophon

Rafał Blechacz's Debussy (audio)

Debussy's pieces Recommended by DG
Blechacz's Toccata from Pour le piano included.

Apr 12, 2012

CD reviews - Austria, Australia, Denmark, Korea

Review of Rafał Blechacz's CD Debussy Szymanowski from Austria;

Original review on falter.at  (German)
English by google translate

(Quote of paragraph related to Blechacz)
".....Since he won the prestigious Chopin Competition in 2005, Rafał Blechacz has recorded almost exclusively music of the Polish countryman. Now he turns his back to romanticism temporarily; his new CD is dedicated to the impressionists “Debussy and Szymanowski “(Deutsche Grammophon). An excellent choice, as Rafał Blechacz has a knack for subtle tones. This is probably because of his delicate fingers, and in any event because of the astounding musicality and expressiveness of the 26-year-olds. Debussy's sound language comes as the benefit as well as Szymanowski's more expressive, indeed almost existential poetry".
(Unquote)

*****
There are several CD reviews, short ones that appeared last month and I couldn't post.

Australia, posted on Readings, on March 19.
Original review on Readings (English)

Denmark as of March 15.
Review (English by google translate)

Korea
Original CD introduction on libro.co.kr (Korean), released on March 8.

(Outline - not translation.)
New release by Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, the winner of 2005 Chopin Competition, beating Lim Dong-Hyek and Lim Dong-Min, getting all the special awards. He structures beautiful melodies in the pieces by Debussy and Szymanowski, mesmerizing audience. He recorded Chopin’s two concertos with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which sold 160000 copies worldwide, positioning him as a promising DG artist. Now he gets into impressionist Debussy. A very good opportunity to hear Pour le piano and Estampes with his tasteful sound. His phenomenal talent and ethnic characteristics reveal. Despite the young age of 28 years (sic), he is astonishingly matured and his music is well organized based on self-restraint. You can sense perfect interpretation with refined, expressive melodies.

**
There were other short reviews from Belgium, Sweden and Estonia, but they already disappeared from the web. (sorry!!)

Apr 10, 2012

Debussy Szymanowski CD review (Poland)

Review on Blechacz's album Debussy Szymanowski, written by Barbara Tenderenda, posted on audio.com.pl.

Original review

(Quote)
This, in my opinion, is the best disc so far by Rafał Blechacz. We were able to hear his execution of Debussy several times. It seems that almost perfect interpretation of the composer has been created each time. Everything that is characteristic of the French impressionist - twinkling sound, rich palette of colors, painterliness, poetry, yet classic restraint – is included in the performance of the Polish pianist. Blechacz performs beautifully both early triptych "Pour le Piano" and the later cycle "Estampes", with "Pagodes"- reminiscent of, thanks to the black keys, Chopin's Etude in G flat major and magnificent ostinati in Spanish "La Soiree dans Grenade" and "L'Isle Joyeuse".

From review of Baden-Baden, Oct. 2009

On the other hand, a big surprise for me is Szymanowski, especially his early Sonata in C minor, Op. 8, which reminds me more of Rachmaninoff than the Polish composer's later compositions. Here it is difficult to discern the master’s individual style, but he turns attention to maturity of forms and care about technique and form. This is classical Szymanowski. So is it in the Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor - especially in the first part. I prefer Rafał Blechacz in this repertoire to Chopin. And the excellent instrument.
(End)


Advertisement of the disc by Polish Cultural Institute in London.
It quotes from Guardian's review.

"... an artist of imagination and perception, with a fabulous range of keyboard touch and colour."
Andrew Clements, The Guardian (5/5)


*****
♫ In my humble opinion, I like Blechacz in both Szymanowski and other repertoire...♫
Evocative Bach, his soul music; outstanding performer of Mozart, Beethoven and other classical composers, formidable Lisztian, Debussian and Schumannist, unrivaled, undisputed interpreter of Chopin...You can't say which is best.





Portrait of Rafał Blechacz by Corina Kolbe (Germany)

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

original article

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


Apr 8, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's interview with RONDO (Germany)

From RONDO, a German magazine 2/2012,

Original article of RONDO 2/2012
See P.8 and 9 for the article of Blechacz


(Quote)
Rafał Blechacz
Luxurious self-restraint

Five years ago, RONDO's author Matthias Kornemann spoke for the first time with the pianist Rafał Blechacz. Quiet, pale, introverted, he was a rare foreign guest in the world of quick success and agile self-marketing. How would it go with this loner who would not give more than 45 concerts a year and leave his home in a quiet corner of the Polish province at any price? Can one survive with this almost monastic attitude as a pianist?  He can.

click to see original photo from San Sebastián, 2010











Introverted, monastic, modest : characteristics which otherwise could kill a career culminate in Rafał Blechacz  in the moment of intense pianism.


Blechacz still lives in Nakło, somewhere in a void between Gdańsk and Warsaw, and as declared has given 45 concerts a year at most. His former mantra is valid: he needs time for his further artistic maturation. Several high-quality CD productions are evidence of this measured way of perfection, which is not limited to playing piano:

"In October 2008, I started to study philosophy. I'm just going to write about a text by Edmund Husserl. It's about music hermeneutics. At some point it will be a doctoral thesis. "

Deepening intellectual perspectives steers his attention to the study of new works:

 "When I prepare a recording, I do not want any interpretation of the interpretation. All the recordings of Debussy by Gieseking, Cortot or Richter (sic.) have already been documented as a history. You must penetrate this layer. I’d keep my position of playing piano, not because all the big people performed it but because it is in the notes. Only the intention of the composer counts. If one has quite a lot of time, he can experience real adventure with apparently well-known pieces. However, they are often so brilliant that it would be an illusion to believe that everything has already been discovered. "

At this point, with the cliché, many young pianists would stop. But the modest young man is getting into his swing.

"The two cycles, Pour le piano and Etampes, require a very different approach. In the first, as the titles already reveal, it is here linked to the baroque tradition, and texture and structure are more traditional in this regard. Of course this doesn't mean that the Toccata should sound like Bach, but on my CD, I want to make audible the change already in the sound in the transition to Estampes."

In the "Jardins sous la pluie" there is a place that he loves very much (from bar 75, a reader might want to verify it in the notes):

"How long does it take until the passage sounds really good! The right hand plays a kind of melody that reminds me of falling drops, the left hand has accompanying voice, only two notes in turn, and beneath it is the harmonic foundation. I've been trying to find a unique color for each voice. For the upper voice I've been infinitely looking for a silvery tone for a long time, I play almost staccato, with a little left pedal - I want light and lucid sound, but not transparent. "


Jardins sous la pluie, around bar 75
One may have the impression that for him the only acceptable interview form would be going over bar by bar, voice by voice throughout the notes, apart from speaking of pianistic realization and difficult search of the instrument.

"Nowadays you really have to explain what you do, otherwise the CD will disappear very easily,"

he says almost apologetically, that he has ventured so far in the field of craftsman’s fine work.

But if you want to appreciate the quality of his playing, you must sharpen ears. This is not an art that brings rage to auditoriums, which would be characterized in a few keywords.  His artistry prompts an expert to take out magnifying glass and perceive with admiration that the details are emerging, extracted with dignified clarity. As a result, to give an example, a few usually unnoticed changing notes suddenly shine in the middle voice in their own sound-resister like something precious, previously unheard of. The time taken for this sound engineering is recognized well.
(End)


**This English is before proof-read by German speaker.

**If you are interested in his previous interview with RONDO, you can search this blog from either search box by "rondo 2007". You could feel time passes very quickly and he has already come a long way.





Apr 6, 2012

Review of Debussy Szymanowski (Poland)

"Blechacz expressed the contrast between impressionism of Debussy and expressionism of Szymanwski, but also his own strong character, courage, outstanding personality ... And the extraordinary sense of beauty".
(review by Jacek Kurek, posted on lizardmagazyn. April 5, 2012)


Original review


(Quote)
How adorable is the restraint, with which Rafał Blechacz invites you to listen to his CD with music by Claude Debussy and Karol Szymanowski. About the theme of "Sonata in C minor" by Szymanowski, the pianist said, “.....interesting harmony, wonderful modulations and beautiful melodies - I think audiences will love** it”. The word “love” sounds here kind of irrelevant to the matter, in relation to what was meant. You could express a doubt with some ground whether to love it or not is at stake. Rather, isn’t it about the immersion in beautiful mystery? About the experience of encountering. About the contemplation of the crystalline sounds that the artist generates with the highest concentration? In fact, however, Rafał Blechacz speaks...with the accuracy of an expert, because he allows us to discover a modest but meaningful order, which can lead us to return to the proper meaning of the verb “love”, when we refer it to the superior art.

The latest CD of this year by the winner of the Chopin Competition 7 years ago certainly will be loved,...and this as much because of the choice of works and composers, as well as sensitivity of interpretation. By all his albums, Blechacz charms with the captivating clarity - here perhaps it is more than ever before. Particularly dazzling is his playing of lesser known, early works by Szymanowski. Debussy's music can be accepted with reservation, especially by those music lovers who are convinced of the superiority of poetic landscapes over technical perfection and masculine power. The latter, however, replete with surprising force (as in Blechacz) and is a huge asset of this release for me. Thus, I describe it as completely beautiful, arising from the same source, in which music flows on his debut and subsequent albums, already recorded for Deutsche Grammophon. Importantly, the artist seems to follow a carefully chosen path in which he matures and the perspective has nothing to do with the wilderness leading to flatter the audience - perhaps one of the biggest temptations for the performers of this class.

As he wanted, with the music on his latest album Blechacz expressed the contrast between impressionism of Debussy and expressionism of Szymanwski, but also his own strong character, courage, outstanding personality ... And the extraordinary sense of beauty.
(End)



(Note)
** “.....interesting harmony, wonderful modulations and beautiful melodies - I think audiences will love** it”.
I copied this fragment from Blechacz's quote on the CD jacket (EU version). But original Polish word for "love" in this review is "(s)podobać się",(....myślę, że słuchaczom się spodoba), so a light word could catch what the reviewer wants to say more appropriately, such as "like" or "enjoy".


*****
I agree with the author in that Blechacz has a strong character, very courageous, and he never flatters audiences--my observation after following his artistic activities - performances, reading and writing about him for the past four and half years.




Apr 3, 2012

Rafał Blechacz at Salle Pleyel, November 11, 2011 (Video)

The video from"Chroniques de l'Ambassadeur", produced in commemoration of Polish government presidency of EU Council in the 2nd half of 2011.




You can see some fragments from the concert at Salle Pleyel on November 11, the independence day of Poland, when Rafał Blechacz played Chopin's concerto in F minor with Sinfonia Varsovia directed by Grzegorz Nowak;

Blechacz playing Polonaise op.53, Mazurka op.17-4, Concerto in F minor, giving interview about playing in Paris and receiving warm applause from the audience.


".....Paris is the town where Frédéric Chopin spent half of his life and it’s a magical place, charming and romantic. This is one of my favorite cities in Europe and in the world. I’m back here with pleasure because I feel I already have my audience who comes to hear my concert. And I’m pleased to be back to play new works. It’s a great honor to play Chopin's music, on the day of the national holiday of Poland, at this time, patriotic note sounds very strong. It’s a great honor as a Pole and as an artist to discover Polish music abroad. It’s a great day...."


This is one of the videos from "Chroniques de l'Ambassadeur".

**It's intriguing but the audio quality is uneven during the concert :(



(Thanks to Konstancja for the first discovery♫)