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Jun 30, 2012

CD review, Debussy Szymanowski (Italy)

A review of Rafał Blechacz's CD Debussy Szymanowski, written by Paola Parri, recently posted on pianosolo, an Italian website.
A very nice review leading us back to merits of this disc and this performance.


Original review

(Quote)
The winner of the 2005 International Chopin Competition, Rafał Blechacz has affirmed his undoubted talent in the world as a specialist of music by Chopin, ratified in 2006 by the splendid recording of the "Preludes" and in 2009 two concertos for piano and orchestra. Yet the talent of this twenty-seven-year-old Pole does not stop at a tribute to his illustrious countryman, rather he enters, with this recording, in the land totally different in the concept of the musical material, in sonority.

Blechacz compares two musical universes: the impressionism of Debussy, for which he takes as reference point the interpretations of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and expressionism of Karol Szymanowski, Polish composer unjustly little visited.

Click to see words of admiration from UK

150 years after the birth of Claude Debussy, Blechacz makes a great tribute to the French composer, highlighting the legacy of classic form, in the three parts of "Pour le piano", no coincidence in bearing evocative titles of the suites of Bach (Prelude, Sarabande and Toccata) and the peculiarities of his language full of descriptive elements and coloristic skills as in "Estampes". Debussy by Blechacz is undoubtedly a Debussy of impressions, of refinement of sound, experimentation, harmonic research, and pianistic colors. The pianist confirms a rare technical mastery of the instrument, ability and control that guarantee the performance of infinite shades that Debussy thought for his passages. The exoticism of "Pagodes", the Iberian character of "Soirée dans Grenade", the whirling musical rainstorm and fun of "Jardins sous la pluie", the charm and suggestions of "L'Isle Joyeuse", filtered through the sensibility Rafał Blechacz, they are returned to us by the enthusiasm in cascades of notes, crystalline and transparent in their accuracy, but also in intense poetry made through studious dynamics with rigorous and perfect balance.

From the kaleidoscopic world of Debussy to the poetics, of already almost existentialist matrix of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski, here it is addressed by his two juvenile works, where the influence of the compatriot Chopin, but also of Liszt or Scriabin is perceivable. A lyrical universe, suffering, deprived of linearity in expression of inwardness in trouble. Dark and rigorous the attack by Blechacz on the "Prelude and Fugue in C-Sharp Minor", eclectic and generous in his "Sonata in C Minor"; the alternation of forte/piano renders justice to the instrument in the first place and to the sizable chiaroscuro of the work by Szymanowski in the second place. Rafał Blechacz reveals the rare quality of being able to be "inside the music", free from possible sins of interpretative orthodoxy, skilled in the weaving of a dense musical language full of nuances, a pianism intended as a natural extension of a personality that is not limited to reading the score, but he seeks the deepest meaning supported by vivid imagination and by unstoppable creativity.
(Unquote)



Jun 26, 2012

Reminder of interview program (France Musique)


During his stay in Paris earlier this month, Rafał Blechacz gave an interview to France Musique, which will be broadcast
on June 27 12:30-13:30, via

Le Magazine by Lionel Esparza
"Marie-Ange Todorovitch et Rafal Blechacz"

☆ Repeated broadcast is available.
    To hear the program, click on (ré)écouter l'émission.
    With French translation overlayed , Blechacz's voice in English is clearly audible.



Jun 22, 2012

Best wishes to our special Pianist

A week later, on June 30, Rafał Blechacz will turn 27.
(Click the picture to see the birthday card.- Flash needed.)



Wszystkiego najlepszego!! 

And,
Happy Father's Day in Poland!! (June 23)

With a deep appreciation...
(Courtesy University of Michigan)















*****
This blog for the special pianist has entered into the 5th year - I began writing it in June 2008.
Let me say many many thanks to all of you for visiting, reading and helping me. I can say our love of beautiful music transcends national borders ♫ ♫


Reviews on CD Debussy Szymanowski (Singapore, Italy)

The Straits Times

DEBUSSY & SZYMANOWSKI Piano Works RAFAL BLECHACZ, PianoDeutsche Grammophon 477 9548 / ****1/2

It was a matter of time that someone coupled on disc the piano works of Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) and Claude Debussy (1862-1918), composers described to be impressionist in inspiration and aesthete. Young Polish award-winning pianist Rafal Blechacz however does not include Szymanowski’s Masques or Metopes, with their obvious aural connections with Debussy.

Instead he opts for the early and rarely heard First Sonata Op.8, composed in 1903-4 with the conventional four movement form closer in spirit to Beethoven and Brahms. However the scintillating finger-work it demands is Lisztian, with a sumptuous aroma that is Straussian (Richard, not the Johanns). The ambitious fugue that closes the finale with outrageous glissandi is a tour de force in contrapuntal writing, as is the more sedate Prelude & Fugue in C sharp minor from the same period. The young Szymanowski was an eclectic voice in search of his definitive self.

From the first five years of the 20th century also come Debussy’s famous piano suites Pour Le Piano and Estampes, which already bear the imprimatur of greatness. Blechacz ravishes these with an exquisite mastery of colour and textures, with the ecstatic pages of L’Isle Joyeuse (The Happy Island) completing this very successful survey of the familiar and arcane.


PIANOSOLO (Italian)
written by Paola Parri


Reviews on Beethoven's concerto No.3 and CD Debussy Szymanowski (Poland)

While I've been buried under day-to-day assignments there were several good reviews appearing on Rafał Blechacz's music.  This one is a review on his performance at Amsterdam Concertgebouw on May 11, when Blechacz played Beethoven's piano concerto No.3 with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen; Conductor: Trevor Pinnock

Original review (Polish)
I think it was written by an audience member.


And these two are the reviews on his album Debussy Szymanowski.  Why now?  I don't know but both are nice reviews.

Original review (Polish)
written by Małgorzata Maciejewska

Original review (Polish)
posted on Hi-Fi Choice


Jun 18, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's recital in Switzerland (podcast)

Rafał Blechacz's recital in Fribourg, Switzerland (November 2, 2011) was aired by RTS.ch and is now available via podcast.

RTS.ch website

Program
Mozart variations in C major
Debussy L'Isle joyeuse
Szymanowski  Sonata No.1
Chopin  Ballade No.1, Polonaise op26, Mazurka op41,
Encore Chopin Waltz op34-2, Mazurka op17-2

Jun 15, 2012

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital at Salle Pleyel

Review article of his recital on June 12, written by Gérard Mannoni, posted on Altamusica.

Original review


(Quote)
All in finesse

Polish Rafał Blechacz came as every year to his Piano recital **** delivering his message of a remarkable musical purity. The piano all with finesse, intelligence and without ostentation. A true lesson for his colleagues in the young generation often inclined to engage in more external demonstrations.

A few days before his twenty-seventh birthday, Rafał Blechacz advances in his way towards full maturity, the road on which he has already covered the vast majority of the path. At a time when the extreme virtuosity is so often regarded as a prime value, he provides a contradictory message, that of music without unnecessary effects, sincere, sensitive, living with as much as subtle interiority, of close rapport with the keyboard.

The program is already significant, with the third Partita in A minor by Bach, Beethoven's seventh Sonata, Debussy's Suite bergamasque and Chopin’s third Sonata, the only concession to a dizzying deployment of digital skills, anyway.

The quality of touch by Blechacz is a mixture of firm precision and fluidity. Even in times when the dynamics is the most vibrant, all hardness, all violence are excluded. There is always a velvet cushion between his fingers and keyboard, which does not stifle the sound, but renders human, silky, full of light.


Hence this Bach colored, almost sensual, where every theoretical research in the writing becomes means of expression. An important partition in the works of Beethoven on this form, just preceding the Pathetique, Sonata No. 7 in D major op. 10 No. 3 is not the best known or most frequently played.


A pixie with irresistible powers
Very fine passage, moving in many places, especially his ample Largo, it is in variable mood, with moments of great nostalgia and other moments of lightness against almost peasante rhythms. Touching always miraculous, Blechacz slides into this conversation with diabolical skill, handling drama and seduction with the same ease, using in particular the complex architecture of the slow movement to touch us, as he will make it at the time in the Sonata in B Minor by Chopin.

Yet it was with Suite bergamasque by Debussy that the pianistic art reached its peak tonight. With sonorities clear and iridescent as well as gracious or of mystery, he knows how to differentiate these four pieces while maintaining a unified approach to putting the sound world of Debussy at the right place in the history of literature for the piano. An alliance between the classicism and audacity, between references to the past and wide opening to discovery in a world of sound, sensual and immaterial at the same time.

About Sonata in B minor by Chopin, as much was expected, of course, we were not disappointed. Approach without violence from the beginning of the first movement, and constant desire to let poetry speak, singing in all its forms, whether with right hand or left hand, and especially, again, a unique way to build the great meditative Largo, somber, anguished with modesty.

And then, in broad strokes that appear in contrasts with the resonant outburst in the Finale, an astounding velocity that drives the piano close to possibility of the instrument and makes us forget that they are small hammers striking on the strings that produce these great streams of light. And yet, every note remains audible!

The strength of the work is there, but it relies more on the full exploitation of discoveries of writing than on purely technical effects. Kind of a pixie with irresistible powers, which some current literatures like to evoke, Rafał Blechacz remains definitely a very special case, worthy of the deepest admiration.
(Unquote)

Review written by the same author on Blechacz's recital @Salle Pleyel in June, 2011.






Blechacz's recitals in US, Oct. 2012

Rafał Blechacz plans to give two recitals in the East Coast this October.  The plan was finalized just recently, so I'm posting this for those who should not miss this important opportunity...!

Oct. 10, Wednesday
Recital @Union College, Schenectady, NY
ticket
info

Oct. 12, Friday
Recital @Duke University, Durham, NC


** Blechacz will tour in US in a more full-fledged manner in April-May, 2013.

Jun 14, 2012

Rafał Blechacz talks - interview in Paris (podcast)

Interview Rafał Blechacz gave just before his recital at Salle Pleyel on June 12, posted on qobuz.com.
Interviewer: Marc Zisman
English is used for the interview.

Blechacz talks about the latest album Debussy Szymanowski, Chopin music and the Chopin Competition, Krystian Zimerman, planning of artistic activities, etc...
You can hear "clair de lune" a bonus track from the latest album Debussy Szymanowski at the end of the interview.

Hear the interview from m4a (37 min.)

Or
from qobuz.com, click on "Écouter ce podcast"













music played during the interview (from Deutsche Grammophon CDs)
Debussy  Prélude from Pour le piano
Szymanowski  Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor
Chopin  Prelude op.28-17  
Chopin  Piano Concerto in E minor
Debussy  "Clair de lune"

*****
Rafał Blechacz gave another interview to France Musique, which will be broadcast
on June 27 12:30-13:30, via

Le Magazine by Lionel Esparza
"Marie-Ange Todorovitch et Rafal Blechacz"




Jun 13, 2012

Again a big applause at Salle Pleyel

On June 12 Rafał Blechacz gave a recital in Salle Pleyel, Paris.

"Rafal played a recital tonight at Salle Pleyel, Paris, France. Again a big success! The audience burst in big applause and shouting already before the intermission. There was no end of applause and enthusiastic shouting when Rafal finished. He thanked the audience with two encores (Chopin's mazurkas)."
(RF)


*****

A blog by an audience member.  You can see pictures of post-recital autographic session. (Merci, Carmen♪)




Jun 12, 2012

Standing ovation in Strasbourg

On June 11, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital in Strasbourg, for Festival de Musique de Strasbourg.

"Rafał finished his great recital in Strasbourg, in Salle Erasme of the Palais de Congres, tonight, June 11, 2012.  He received the thunderous applause and a standing ovation!  He played one encore".
(RF)


Tomorrow, he'll perform at Salle Pleyel, Paris.

Jun 9, 2012

Review of Blechacz's recital in Duisburg for Klavier-Festival Ruhr

A review of the recital by Rafał Blechacz in Duisburg for Klavier-Festival Ruhr (Ruhr Piano Festival )on June 6,
posted on RP online.

Original review on RP online


World-class pianist played in Duisburg

Duisburg (RP). Now we know why at the Warsaw Chopin Competition 2005, 1985-born Rafał Blechacz was awarded the first prize, and no second prize was awarded, to emphasize the distance. In the Ruhr Piano Festival, the young Pole now filled the Mercatorhalle. His program was a wise walk-through of music history, in four stations each lasting about 25 minutes. Let's forget about the predominantly hasty smoothed Partita No. 3 in A minor BWV 827 (1731) by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Of course, here emerged two really artistic virtues of Rafał Blechacz: his unobtrusive, outstanding playing technique and his reliable transparency. The Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op 10 No. 3 (1796-98) by Ludwig van Beethoven worked very convincingly at all levels. Here possibly missing was a bit of life experience to explore the depth of this music. After the break, the world-class pianist was completely in his musical world. The "Suite bergamasque" (1890) by Claude Debussy who was born 150 years ago, he held it skillfully in the balance between colored weightlessness and clear grip.

To the music of his compatriot Karol Szymanowski, Rafał Blechacz has a special affinity. Here he gave a strong final appeal for that moving Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op 8 (1905) in which Szymanowski brought together his models Frédéric Chopin and Alexander Scriabin very personally. That was the climax of the Piano Festival.



Jun 8, 2012

"A big phenomenon" - Czech newspaper characterizes Rafał Blechacz

News and Articles page of Prague Spring Festival website has a summary of this year's concerts, where the author praises Rafał Blechacz.

Prague Spring Festival website


(what the author writes is approximately like this.)

Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit left a favorable impression thanks primarily to 26 year-old Rafał Blechacze who presented Beethoven's fourth piano concerto rightly "with a fine virtuosity and variety of expression",....

Courtesy:Prague Spring
Lidové noviny (People newspaper) characterized Blechacz as "a big phenomenon ".

"He played with noble grace, utterly confident and composed. In a part of the very famous concerto he played with fine phrases and accents, precisely complied with style, performance and yet acted free and lively. The way in which Blechacz models phrases and keeps the integrity of parts also suggests that this is a pianist with extraordinary intellect and musical feeling. "





*****
Rafał Blechacz will play a recital for Strasbourg Music Festival on June 11.
Article by WP.PL Polonia















*****
In the quiet morning of rain on weekend, listening to his recorded performance of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, absolutely purifying, fulfilling, I give a prayer of thanks for such treasure.

Jun 7, 2012

The Nikkei mentions Rafał Blechacz's latest CD

The Nikkei, the biggest economic daily of Japan (circulation: three million copies), mentioned Rafał Blechacz's album "Debussy Szymanowski" on its cultural page "Monthly Music Salon" under the title of "Special concerts and recordings in commemoration of Debussy's Anniversary Year" as of May 31.

(Quote)
".....In recording, Rafał Blechacz impresses with lucid and penetrating sound by a unique compilation of works by Debussy such as 'Pour le piano', and 'L'Isle joyeuse' and those by Szymanowski, his compatriot  composer from Poland.  The extraordinary beauty of 'clair de lune' that he recorded especially considerate of the disaster in Japan evokes tears, interpreting his pure and single-minded personality....."
by Yoshiko Ikuma, music journalist
(Unquote)
















**Thanks to my colleague Y for the info.

A beautiful recital in Duisburg

Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Mercatorhalle im CityPalais, Duisburg on June 6.

"Rafał's Duisburg recital tonight at Mercatorhalle was beautiful. After the first part, before the intermission, there was a big ovation and clapping. After he finished the audience enthusiasm grew even more and there was huge unending ovation. Rafał thanked them with two encores".
(RF)



.

Jun 3, 2012

Interview and performing - Rafał Blechacz in Prague (Video)

From Czech TV program "Echo of the Prague Spring 2012",
you can see Antoni Wit and Rafał Blechacz talking & performing in Smetana Hall.
(The first three minutes are by Wit and Blechacz, followed by other performers interviews for the rest of the video.)

Click the picture to go to Czech TV.


Flash is needed to watch the video.

**Many thanks to my friend's friend for the info♥ Dekuju.  (am I correct?)

Jun 2, 2012

Compositions interrelated to be sensed – Blechacz for Klavier-Festival Ruhr

This month, Rafał Blechacz is giving three recitals in Duisburg (June 6), Strasbourg (June 11), Paris (June 12).


From Klavier-Festival Ruhr website for the recital in Duisburg, June 6;


(Quote)
..........But Rafał Blechacz has remained modest. Unpretentious and quietly, he has pursued his way and is confident with his calm and authentic way,

"I'm not a type who shocks the audience with something or wants to make a show," said Blechacz. And indeed, despite the exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon and numerous concert tours around the globe, the pianist loves to spend time at home in a small town in northern Poland, with his family. He also gladly plays the organ for Mass on Sunday.

After his competitive success Blechacz is considered a Chopin specialist. However, he also has a fine flair for Bach, Beethoven and Debussy and he is now again at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr with a proof. A colorful sound is particularly important to him and he emphasized;

 that "the listener can better recognize relationships between works," especially between compositions of music by different composers.
(Unquote)


(Program in Duisburg)
Johann Sebastian Bach |Partita Nr. 3 a-Moll BWV 827
Ludwig van Beethoven |Sonate Nr. 7 D-Dur op. 10/3
Claude Debussy |Suite bergamasque
Karol Szymanowski |Sonate Nr. 1 in c-Moll op. 8


Jun 1, 2012

Piano Street Classical Piano blog

Impressive Expressions!
Blechacz plays piano music by Debussy and Szymanowski. (May 25)