Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz

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Oct 30, 2012

Prayer

I just have to pray that my friends, fans of Rafał, acquaintances in the East Coast stay safe.

*****
I received an e-mail from a family there.  They survived the storm but there is no electricity.....I'm hoping for early recovery from the aftermath. (Oct.31 JST)

*****
I also remember the words by Blechacz about Chopin music two years ago when southern part of Poland was hit by flood.

"After the concert (in Poznań) Blechacz noted that in Chopin's music there are a lot of pains and sorrows but also hope that in hard times currently experienced by the Poles is all very much needed".

And he donated fees for the performance in Poznań for the people affected by the floods.

Oct 22, 2012

mini review of CD Debussy Szymanowski, The Buffalo News

A mini review of CD Debussy Szymanowski,  by The Buffalo News, Oct. 21.

(quote)
Debussy and Szymanowski, Piano music performed by pianist Rafal Blechacz (Deutsche Grammophon). You never know where the first-rate Debussy pianists will come from. But you can guess. Angela Hewitt proved recently that as devoted as she can possibly be, her Debussy is simply not on the level of her Bach and Beethoven. Here, though, is a young Polish pianist who admires the recorded Debussy of Michelangeli, Cortot and Gieseking and sounds it. He fully conveys the deep Debussyan poetry of “Pour Le Piano,” “Estampes,” and “L’Isle Joyeuse,” which means that he’s at least halfway there with what the notes here call “the existential poetry” of Szymanowski’s long-lined Prelude and Fugue in C-Sharp Minor and the expressive size of his huge (five movement), powerful C-Minor Sonata Op.8. Until now, Blechacz has given us Chopin, Haydn and Beethoven. This opens up new intellectual and poetic vistas for an enormously accomplished young pianist.
(unquote)

Oct 21, 2012

Congrats and millions of thanks to our Pianist

Seven years ago today (Oct. 21) Rafał Blechacz swept all the awards at the 2005 Chopin Competition in Warsaw.



Since then, we have been always inspired by the indescribable beauty of his playing,
full of emotions and thankfulness.

Mazurka in C minor Op.56 No.3


What is he doing today, the special day for him as well as for his fans?
My guess is....he goes to church as it's Sunday, then he is playing piano (or organ?)

" I’m like a bird who has no day when he doesn’t fly. I have no day when I don’t play piano (laughing)".  (Interview with Tsutomu Nasuda, in Feb. 2009)

Or reading books of philosophy?

Best wishes for his continued good health, happiness and success!

***

"It’s all about inspiration", the narrator says when Blechacz starts playing.
"Suddenly, the entire music hall is inspired.
His concerto in E-minor wins the hearts of the public".

(From a documentary of the 2005 Chopin Competition on Frontline World)
 (Click on Watch Video).

Japanese


Oct 20, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's recital in Mainz to be broadcast, Nov. 19

Rafał Blechacz's recital in Mainz (Sept. 28) will be broadcast by SWR2, on Nov. 19, @20:03 (Central European Time).

SWR2 program page
See P.2 @20:03


**Thanks to lotus-eater for the good news!

Oct 17, 2012

A song for remembering

In his interview in 2007, Rafał Blechacz remembered an unforgettable concert in Bydgoszcz that he attended when he was a child, by "Poznańskie Słowiki (Poznan Nightingales)",  a choir composed of boys and men with its conductor, Professor Stefan Stuligrosz.  The choir performed "Messiah" by Handel. Blechacz said "On that occasion, I heard this work for the first time in its entirety and live", and he was deeply moved.

It has been reported that  Professor Stefan Stuligrosz passed away in June this year. He was 91.

Here you can hear voice of the choir, conducted by the Professor.
I remember this today, on the special day when all the music fans remember Frédéric Chopin (1 March or 22 February 1810 – 17 October 1849).





*****
In Tokyo, Restaurant Polska, a Polish restaurant opened this month.  As far as I know, this is the only Polish restaurant in Japan.  I must go and try...!→


↑ Correction! (added Oct. 19)
I was informed that the restaurant opened last year in Shibuya Tokyo, and moved this month. There are two other Polish restaurants in Shizuoka and Kagoshima (central and southern parts of the country).

Oct 15, 2012

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital at Duke, NC

Review of Rafał Blechacz's recital at Bryan Center Reynolds Industries Theater, Duke University, Durham, NC, Oct. 12, written by John W. Lambert,
with the highest admiration of his artistry.

Review on CVNC website
What, No Brahms? Blechacz Dazzles at Duke with Bach, Beethoven, and More

For its first piano recital of the current season, Duke Performances brought Rafal Blechacz back to Reynolds Theater for an impressive program that demonstrated in no uncertain terms why this artist's playing has captured the hearts and minds of music lovers around the globe.

(.....)

ECHO Klassik 2012 prize awarded

On Oct. 14,  ECHO Klassik 2012 awards were presented in Berlin Konzerthaus.

News release from Universal Music Germany
See photo

Rafał Blechacz's CD Debussy Szymanowski was awarded Solo Recording of the Year (piano, 20/21 centuries).  (On Oct. 14, Blechacz was in US for concert tour).


Release from Swiss Orpheum Foundation
Four Swiss Orpheum Foundation soloists among the «Echo Klassik 2012» prize winners.
(.....)the young Pole Rafal Blechacz is honored for his recording of piano works of Debussy and Szymanowski. Blechacz came in 2006 at the Orpheum concert.


Release from KD Schmid (UK) (English) 

Release from KD Schimid (Germany)

(.....) Rafał Blechacz receives the award in the category “Soloist recording of the year (20th/21st century) / piano” for his recording of Debussy and Szymanowski piano works. The album was released by Deutsche Grammophon in February of 2012. Reactions from the press have been impressive: “Suddenly music sounds completely pure again, wholly authentic; the message of the music comes from its innermost parts […]” (Die Zeit, March 15, 2012).


Oct 12, 2012

Beautiful review of Blechacz's recital in NY

An enthralling review of Rafał Blechacz's recital in NY, Oct. 10, written by Geraldine Freedman for the Daily Gazette.

Original review
"Brilliant young pianist opens Union chamber festival"
(.....)
Within a few bars of Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G minor (1835) after intermission, ....his gifts shown and his interpretation was like a poet’s dream: romance, drama, mystery, sighs of longing, playfulness.

The fiercely difficult finale, which was like child’s play for him, was extraordinary in its fire. The audience leaped to its feet. But he had Chopin’s two Polonaises from his Op. 26 to further thrill them.

He continued to amaze in Szymanowski’s complex and hugely virtuosic Sonata No. 1 in C minor (1905). The four movements are very beautiful but it was like scaling the heights in hugely rugged terrain : massive and non-stop technical demands, emotionally dramatic highs and lows, and no chance to take a breath. Blechacz endured and triumphed.
(.....)




Oct 11, 2012

Interview for "The Thread", Duke Performance

An interview Rafal Blechacz gave to Braian Howe of "The Thread", Duke Performance Theater.

Original interview

(.....)
"This is my fifth time in the United States. I like the public here. I remember my first concert here was in 2008 at the Gilmore Festival. It’s a prestigious place and I was happy when I got the invitation. Also, I had a very good impression when I played with the New York Philharmonic in 2008. We played Chopin’s second concerto together and it was a wonderful experience for me to play with the great orchestra in New York.

 -- Have you noticed any differences between, say, Japanese and European audiences?

The differences are not so big. In Japan, when I play Chopin, I know the concert hall will be completely full, because Chopin is amazing for them. I think that which program I offer to each country is very important. The first tour in Japan, seven years ago, was only Chopin music, because it was a request from my Japanese agency. But when I play in Germany and France and the U.K., I think it’s very good to combine the program, to present different styles and composers. So usually I am playing Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart in the first parts of the recitals, and in the second parts I often play Romantic music—Chopin and Schumann, for example. During my recitals in this season, I present quite a lot of Debussy and Szymanowski, which is connected to my last recording for Deutsche Grammophon. Szymanowski is not so popular in Europe and also in my country, Poland, so I would like to present him more.
(.....)

Gilmore Festival, April 2008















Japanese

Startling performance and standing ovation - recital in Schenectady, NY

On Oct. 10, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Union College Memoria Chapel, Schenectady, NY.

"Rafal gave an excellent recital although there were no encores. But his rapport with the public was excellent. Bach was brilliant and afterwards there were shouts of admiration. Beethoven startling, after Chopin's Ballade people started to rise while clapping thunderously. After Szymanowski was an enthusiasm and big standing ovation. The house was full".
(R.F.)




"Szymanowski’s Sonata No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 8 was the most passionate — dare I say musical — playing of the night".


Review written by Geraldine Freedman, posted on The Daily Gazette. A wonderful review!

Japanese


Oct 10, 2012

Zofia and Antoni Wit initiative

An article from a Hungarian paper about the Zofia and Antoni Wit Initiative (Music Director of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Poland and his wife), the foundation to build a center for the elder retired Polish musicians (it actually opened or maybe will be open in a few days on Oct.1).

The initiative is supported by several musicians, such as Wojciech Kilar, a Polish composer and Rafał Blechacz who are donating to the initiative.


Original article (Hungarian)


Feb. 22, 2010, Warsaw
















**Today, arillei shared a link to the news in Polish!!  Thank you!! (Oct. 12).

Warszawa.Gazeta.pl

(Outline)
The idea to build a music house for retired musicians in Katy came from a couple of artists -Zophia and Antoni Wit. In 2004, a foundation was established and the idea to construct the house was supported by a number of artists, most generously by Wojciech Kilar, Wiesław Ochman, Kazimierz Kord, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Rafał Blechacz.
Tadeusz Żera, architect, designed the building in the style of rural manor house with an internal patio. On Oct.1, the grand opening of the building was held in the presence of First Lady Anna Komorowska.

In Europe, there is only one home for retired musicians - Casa Verdi in Milan. Its founder was Giuseppe Verdi.


Japanese

Oct 7, 2012

Interview for NY based journal

NY based The Daily Gazette introduces Rafał Blechacz, interweaving his phone interview.

Original article by The Daily Gazette

(Excerpt)

.....Still, there are many pianists out there who play Chopin. What makes his interpretation so much different or better? PLAYS HIS OWN STYLE

“I have listened to other recordings of pianists playing Chopin. But for me it is important to be natural, to hear my intuition and my heart,” Blechacz said. “I want to go deeply into the music’s logic, to have my own style. This is not an interpretation of an interpretation.” Journalists have asked him about Chopin’s specific use of rubato, which is a kind of pushing and pulling at phrases.

“I tell them sometimes I play a phrase this way and another one that way. It depends on the instrument, the acoustic of the hall, the intonation of the piano, my feelings,” he said. “One needs to have a plan, but it must be natural.”
(.....)










HUDSON SOUNDS " Rafał Blechacz opens Union College Season."

Interview with  new artistic director of the Union College Concert Series →

Many US radio stations are introducing his CD "Debussy Szymanowski".  →☆Example: WFMT

Polish American Club



Oct 6, 2012

Best of Klassik 2012, to be released

"Best of Klassik 2012", an album containing performances of ECHO Klassik 2012, will be released on Oct 12. Rafał Blechacz was awarded "Solo Recording of the Year, piano 20/21 centuries" for his album "Debussy Szymanowski" and his performance of Sarabande from Pour le Piano by Debussy is included in the album.

Amazon.de website














Award giving ceremony of ECHO Klassik 2012 will take place at Konzerthaus, Berlin, on October 14. →(Piano InForum website)


Japanese

Happy Birthday Karol Szymanowski

Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
Today (Oct. 6) is his 130th birthday.


Rafał Blechacz plays minuet from the Piano Sonata No.1 in C minor.


Minuet from Szymanowski's piano sonata in C minor



"...My story of Szymanowski music started relatively early.  I was 11 or 12 years old I remember I attended the concert by Polish pianist Jerzy Godziszewski **.  And I was absolutely delighted by the Szymanowski music. I remember everything sounded so beautiful, heart-breakingly beautiful, especially harmony, wonderful modulations, melodies, and I really wanted to play Szymanowski’s music…I chose 'Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor' and 'the first Sonata opus 8',..."


"... Szymanowski was quite young and he was absolutely fascinated by expressionist music like Scriabin.  We can hear typical atmosphere of expressionism...The first sonata opus 8, the 3rd movement is a kind of minuet, which proves that a classical thinking, approach was very close to Szymanowski,…and it’s very optimistic piece and especially the middle part in this minuet is very interesting, a lot of polyphonies..."
(Rafał Blechacz)

Comprehensive website of Karol Szymanowski


Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 9: I. Allegro moderato (Patetico) Written in 1904.
David Oistrakh, violin
Vladimir Yampolsky, piano
Recorded in 1954.




Japanese


Oct 3, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's recital at Victoria Hall, Geneva, March 2010 available via RTS (podcast)

Rafał Blechacz's recital at Victoria Hall, Geneva, on March 25, 2010 is made available on RTS.ch website (podcast).
*One of his favorite concert halls ♫


RTS.ch website
Click "Ecouter" and jump to 16:30 when the first piece, Bach Partita No.1 begins.

(Program)
Bach: Partita No.1 BWV825
Mozart: sonata No.16 (17) k570
Debussy: Pour le piano
Chopin: Ballade No.3 op.47, Scherzo op.20, Mazurkas op.50, Polonaise fantasie op.61
Encore: Chopin's Nocturne (posthumous)


Read a review of the recital written by  Julian Sykes, posted on Le Temps on March 26.


from another recital, Germany, Oct. 2009

Oct 2, 2012

His first contact with Debussy and Szymanowski, interview with Rafał Blechacz (Poland)

An interview article from Muzyka21, Feb. 2012

Original interview
Please scroll down to the middle of the page.

(Quote)
Rafał Blechacz: The colors of music by Debussy and Szymanowski 
Łukasz Kaczmarek


Another album by Rafał Blechacz was just released. This time solo works by Debussy and Szymanowski filled its program. Impressionism and Expressionism: a juxtaposition of these two very distinct styles of music determines the nature of the whole album. To show the sharp contrast was one of the pianist's artistic purposes. Most of the pieces by Debussy, which found themselves in the latest album, are included in the repertoire of Blechacz for about ten years. And at the same time, both the music of Debussy and Szymanowski, appeared in his discography. I’m remembering the artist's first album, recorded even before the memorable Chopin Competition in 2005.

With a question about that debut album, I began my interview with the pianist:

"It was totally my first album. I remember surely I recorded then Suite bergamasque by Debussy and Variations in B minor by Szymanowski. That was six years ago ... During this time, certainly in some way, my approach to these composers changed. This time I recorded other works, namely Pour le piano, Estampes and Island of Joy by Debussy and the great work: Sonata No.1 in C minor by Szymanowski. Therefore, it required a different approach in relation to that - from six years ago, to those works. It is not easy for me to say how much of a change it constitutes in the interpretation of works by Szymanowski and Debussy, because practically all the time I'm stuck in the process. It is rather a question to the audience, who cannot hear my interpretation so often, do not deal with my piano arts every day, so, for example, when they compare the record of six years ago to the current record, made after those significant experiences at concert halls, as well as of recording, I'm sure they may observe some changes. I think they are not so controversial changes; controversy in the interpretation, or, more broadly - in music, was never in my domain or something I would like to follow. Certainly, however, presenting certain works, especially those that I decide to record, in different places, in different venues, of different acoustics, with different instruments, makes it possible to gain from those experiences and develop a style. Of course, I am thinking of compositional style, but also while keeping the entire architecture by a particular author, presenting within the style your own ideas and musical interpretation. "

Speaking of style, his own vision of the music by Debussy and Szymanowski, Rafał Blechacz points to his great musical inspiration. In the case of Szymanowski - Jerzy Godziszewski is an artist who, more than a dozen years ago, recorded complete piano music of the Polish author, but also from whom a very young Blechacz had the opportunity to hear the above-mentioned repertoire many years ago. As for Debussy, the artist has identified three major models: creations by Michelangeli, Alfred Cortot and Walter Gieseking. I asked Rafał Blechacz about the very beginning of his musical adventures with works by Szymanowski and Debussy, as well as other artistic inspirations:

"Concerning Professor Godziszewski, actually his recital was my first contact with the music of Szymanowski. I remember that concert at the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, during which he performed Metopes, Masks, and perhaps even the second Piano Sonata. It was a great event! It was also probably the period when the album was released with all of Szymanowski's piano pieces performed by Jerzy Godziszewski. I dealt with these interpretations in those days and studied the works of Szymanowski in that manner. From the very beginning I was very fascinated by this music, the harmony above all, sharp emotional contrasts and culminations. Of course, I also wanted to reach for the works by Szymanowski, then I tried some Preludes and Variations op. 3. Then I made the latter piece one of my repertoire, and in this way my adventure with Szymanowski began.

As for Debussy, I have a memory of a recital by Dominique Merlet when I was probably about thirteen or fourteen years old, during which he performed the cycle Estampes by Debussy which fascinated me very much. I knew performances of Debussy before, with the recordings, for example by Sviatoslav Richter. There is a record, released earlier by Deutsche Grammophon, where Richter plays a few selected Preludes by Debussy, exactly Estampes, Sonata by Scriabin and something else by Prokofiev. These are live recordings. Even then, it occurred to me that this trend of Debussy expanded more and more. It was then that I started to practice Estampes, Suite bergamasque, and a little later - Pour le piano. I must say that there are a lot of such recordings that inspire me. One example is a wonderful recording of Children's Corner by Debussy performed by Alfred Cortot. It is very important for me to have inspiration, as a reference point.

But an even more important issue is entering deep into reading a work and stay with it long alone. It is as if discovering it again and search in it for these things that may have not yet been discovered, may not have been so strongly emphasized. My goal is just to follow the trend, follow the music in such a way as to create an interpretation, which in a sense is outstanding, or different from those that we already know that is available. "

In order to further deepen the topic of inspiration, I also asked Rafał Blechacz about his non-musical influences:

"These days such inspiration to me is philosophy of music. This agenda has been very fascinating to me for a few years, more or less since middle school. I didn’t have then, of course, for obvious reasons - competitions and other concert duties - so much time to delve into it intensely. For the past three years, however, I participate in doctoral seminars at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, focusing primarily on those topics that in some way touch the music, the philosophy of music. As for specific inspirations, I’d show here texts of Roman Ingarden about identity of musical works, or Zofia Lissa, concerning closer sense of interpretation. The texts of artistic experience by Ingarden played a very important role in my life. I feel that they open up a new horizon and allow me to look in a slightly different way, with greater awareness, with greater understanding, with more theoretical and intellectual background, at pianistic arts, and at how a public concert should be. Everything, in a sense, will be found reflected later in the same interpretations. " (...)
(Unquote)

*****
One of Blechacz's fans in my country bought this February issue of Muzyka21 to read his interview.  She said that the original interview is longer of three pages.  The above on-line text is about a third of the whole interview.


Japanese