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Nov 30, 2012

Reviews of Blechacz's recital in Barcelona

A review of Rafał Blechacz's recital at L'Auditori, Barcelona, on November 15, written by Jorge de Persia, posted on La Vanguardia.

Original review

Let me pick up paragraphs about Debussy and Szymanowski.

(quote)
In the path toward the greatest 

L’Auditori has launched a highly desirable series, for which the Chamber responds very well: it began with a great Polish pianist, still very young, in the path toward the greatest. Blechacz, who in 2005 won the Warsaw Chopin Competition in a determining way; as he was in Barcelona we could assess his quality.

And exactly in the second part of the program he played a Debussy (Suite bergamasque) which was a synthesis of his virtues.

And he illuminated the intense and direct dialogue between the piano of the French and the one of his admired Chopin. And in both cases - because as a small gratuity he added a waltz by Chopin - we admired the fine touch, of brilliant and crystal sound, the phrase rich in inflections, ability to understand the personal style of each, and the restrained expression without reservation.

Another strong piece of the recital, Sonata no. 1 of Karol Szymanowski was an exercise of intense pianism, radiant, clear and precise in virtuosity, and even matured.
(unquote)



Another review of this recital by an audience member in Barcelona

Original review

(quote)
In the world of music, everyone has his own idols, having them so internalized as to believe nobody can unseat them. Among the renowned pianist, for me Daniel Barenboim and Maurizio Pollini among others, but also I admire Martha Argerich, Andras Schiff and Alexei Volodin. Especially it is difficult to think that someone young can oust such revered figures. But this was precisely the case with Rafał Blechacz on the day that I heard him in a recital at l'Auditori. The Polish pianist, of only 27 years, is for me a worthy successor to Pollini, now let me explain why.

In the music world, and I imagine in the world of art in general, not all the interpreters do everything. I mean no singer can sing any repertoire (even Maria Callas), but it is unusual that a pianist can embrace all pianistic repertoire. Someone off the charts perhaps can do it. For example, Barenboim excels and sublimes in Mozart and Beethoven, but is a disaster when playing Chopin. Pollini, on the contrary, is the only one that I know plays everything right: he has the skill to interpret Beethoven and the temperament to play Chopin. In Blechacz the same things happen.

Rafał Blechacz, yet physically he is an existence absolutely delicate and Apollonian, fragile and extremely neat. I would say that every time he appeared to play a new piece in the concert, he polished it up over the keys. He presented a varied program and executed everything so immaculately. He began with a Bach partita, in which he made the piano sound like a harpsichord, struck the keys in a precise, accurate manner, with perfect articulation of each note. It seemed like a harpsichord with sonority of piano. The Beethoven sonata, not the best known, was spectacular. He changed the form of playing in respect of Bach, here he alternated maximum expressiveness with meticulous and precise fingering not to allow any note to escape and to produce the sound of perfect articulation. He finished the first part of the concert having transmitted the feeling of being a musician absolutely Apollonian, like his figure, thin and fragile.

In the second half, however, he changed register. He played Debussy full of sensitivity and nuances and ended with his compatriot, Szymanowski, with the plethoric and spectacular sonata, in which Blechacz deployed exuberance of splendid sound that was not seen in Bach at the beginning. But at any moment he showed an absolute domain of piano, thanks to the exceptional technique. As an encore, and it couldn’t be otherwise, he gave us a piece of his compatriot most famous in the world of piano: the waltz op. 34 no. 2 of Chopin. He was brilliant again. Throughout the concert he knew how to transport everyone to the world of perfection, he was as if entering into the world of Platonic ideas, because this young man is all prodigy. I would like to see him every time he comes to Barcelona. No one shouldn’t have lost him.
(unquote)






Nov 25, 2012

Radio4 broadcasts Blechacz's recital (the Netherlands)

Radio4 Avondconcert broadcasts Rafał Blechacz's recital in Fribourg (Nov. 2011)

@20:00-23:00 November 25 (CET)

program page
Avondconcert Rafał Blechacz

related article


Listen to Radio4 from Radioplayer


Nov 23, 2012

Review of Blechacz's recital in Oviedo

A review posted on ocio.lne.es
titled "An exceptional Polish piano"



Great evening in Oviedo

On November 22, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Auditorio Principe Felipe, Oviedo, Spain.

"Great evening in Oviedo. Rafał's recital brought great applause from the enthusiastic audience. After the 1st part there was a big ovation and Bravo shoutings. Even more after he finished the entire program. He played two encores: Chopin's waltz and mazurka".
(R.F.)


"Extraordinario! El piano del XXI ya llegó". (Pablo Álvarez)

↑"Extraordinary!  The piano of the 21st century has arrived."
 (Pablo Álvarez, musician, professor, music lover)

Review written by Pablo Álvarez



Program booklet



Preview
Preview

Nov 22, 2012

A wonderful recital at Baluarte, Pamplona

On November 21, Rafał Blechacz held a concert at Baluarte, Pamplona, Spain.

"Tonight in Pamplona Rafał Blechacz played a great recital again. There were shouts of praise and huge clapping after he finished the first part. At the end of the recital again he received a thunderous applause and shoutings of enthusiasm. He thanked the audience with two encores".
(R.F.)

"Todos los pianistas tienen técnica; alma, pocos. Pasará mucho tiempo antes de volver a ver algo así. Maravilloso". (Mariano Jiménez)

(Translation)
"All the pianists have technique; soul few. It’ll take some time before we can experience something like this again. So wonderful! "
(Mariano Jiménez, musician, composer and professor, one of the audience members in Pamplona)


"Looking forward to having you here soon. It was a superb concert!"
(from Baluarte, via twitter)


Recital program booklet
Courtesy Baluarte Pamplona.







Preview of the recital
(Quote)
The young Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, considered one of the most outstanding of his generation, will give a recital on Wednesday at Baluarte, in which he will perform works by Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin.

Blechacz, 27, began to emerge in 2005 by winning in Warsaw XV International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, which has allowed him to perform in the most famous concert halls in the world.

The pianist has participated in the most popular music festivals and has performed with the best symphony orchestras under the direction of conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Mikhail Pletnev, Charles Dutoit, David Zinman, Marek Janowski and Jerzy Maksymiuk.

In 2010, he won the Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Siena, Italy) awarded annually by an international jury of music critics to young musicians for excellent artistic achievements.

His projects for 2012 include concerts with, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and a recital tour in Belgium , France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, USA, EU and in the Ruhr Piano Festival.
(Unquote)





Nov 20, 2012

Great recital in Alicante, Spain

On November 19, at 20:15-, Rafał Blechacz gave a recital at Teatro Principal, Alicante, Spain, his second leg of Spanish tour. He played works of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin.


"Tonight in Alicante, Spain, the Teatro Principal was a place of great recital by Rafał Blechacz. The audience received his playing very enthusiastically already after the 1st part. There was clapping and clapping. After the last piece at the end there was a huge ovation again. Rafał thanked them with an encore".
(R.F.)


Preview
".....Rafał Blechacz is a prestigious Polish musician who has participated in music festivals and competitions around the world, rising as the winner in many of the most prestigious ones. The victory of 2005 in Warsaw opened the doors of the most famous concert halls. Among others, he has been at Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, Berlin Philharmonie, Herkulessaal in Munich, Alte Oper in Frankfurt / Main, Stuttgart Liederhalle, Vienna Konzerthaus, Zurich Tonhalle, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and Avery Fisher Hall in New York".


*****
"Rafał in Hamburg" by Tomomi Nagae, manga (comic) artist ♫

See comments of this post for background of this picture.


Nov 19, 2012

A review of Rafał Blecacz's recital at L'Auditori Barcelona

A review of Rafał Blecacz's recital at L'Auditori Barcelona on November 15, posted on Revista Musical Catalana.

Original review

From Bach trough to Szymanowski, a recital by Blechacz to be remembered


By Lluís Trullén

(Introduction of Rafał Blechacz as the undisputed winner in the 2005 competition in Warsaw, selected in a very different way from the famous dispute of 1980 when Argerich left the jury,)

Blechacz's debut at the Auditorium was in November 2008, performing under the baton of Víctor Pablo Pérez, Piano Concerto no. 2 by Saint-Saëns and now four years later he is back to a recital at Sala Oriol Martorell. Blechacz, far from wanting to be listed as a Chopin specialist, gave a sample of different aesthetics, beginning with Bach's Partita in A minor and culminating in the music of Szymanowski’s first Sonata.

A seductive and magical magnetism surrounds his interpretations full of personality and destined for speedy tempo but of absolutely transparent clarity of diction. In his hands, everything must have a reason of existence. There are moments when he reaches conceptual dimension and yet so sublime that one can remember the style of legendary pianist like Pollini (incidentally, the first winner from Western Europe of the Chopin Competition in 1960), in other moments searching for depth in the pulse and in the very clean sound peculiar to Sokolov (his Bach is radically different in terms of concept, but the clarity in the implementation of sonority planes and effect of sound are identically prodigious) or even being able to delve into that sonority which is overflowing fruit of the perfect body disposition, approaching the great strength of Volodos. Blechacz never takes his eyes away from the keyboard, draws with elegance gesture always appropriate for technical necessity of the work.

The Partita no. 3, by Bach, powerfully articulated and exteriorized, reaches strength away from more conceptual other versions, but could acquire the most beautiful luminosity. Magic was in his passage through the slow movement of the Sonata op. 10 no. 3 of Beethoven, with the effects of an undeniable poetic magnetism, which contrasted with the spontaneity and naturalness appropriate to the tonality of D major shown in the other movements.

The second half had as protagonist two authors, focus of his latest recording, released in February this year: Debussy and Szymanowski. In Suite bergamasque, with his dreamy "Clair de lune" he set up a range of filtered colors, recreating the atmosphere so appropriate and magical that is necessary to exude from the music of Debussy, and his path to Sonata op. 8 of Szymanowski deployed the best of his techniques to serve the work full of chromatism, of tonal changes, of powerful elegance and which with the fugue of the final movement, exposes the pianist to complex interpretative difficulties.

Blechacz crowned the recital playing a Chopin’s waltz and mazurka, corroborating that his talent made him one of the greatest pianists of today.





Nov 17, 2012

Rafał Blechacz recital in Mainz (Webradio, SWR2), Nov. 19

Rafał Blechacz's recital at Frankfurter Hof, Mainz (Sept. 28) will be broadcast by SWR 2
on November 19 @20:03 (CET)

Listen to SWR2

Program page
Abendkonzert (Evening concert)

Promotion page by KlassikAkzente

*****

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life".  (Berthold Auerbach)

Nov 16, 2012

Krystian Zimerman's 50th anniversary on stage

Krystian Zimerman began tour yesterday in Japan.  Long-waited recitals after his sabbatical last year.  He'll give 12 recitals for the next month.

Program:

Debussy: Estampes: 1. Pagodes 2. La soirée dans Grenade 3. Jardins sous la pluie

Debussy: Préludes 1 (Selection)
2. Voiles 12. Minstrels 6. Des pas sur la neige  
8. La fille aux cheveux de lin 10. La cathédrale engloutie
7. Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Szymanowski: 3 Preludes from op.1

* Brahms: Piano Sonata No.2 F sharp minor Op.2
                    or
* Chopin: Sonata No. 3 in B minor op.58 

On November 15 he held the first recital in Kyoto.  I've seen voices of admiration by audience members on blogs and SNS's.  I had traced news of his performances in Berlin, the Netherlands, Brussels and Paris last month and Hong Kong this month, because I wanted to know which pieces he would play in Japan, and read impressive reviews of high appraise.

Among other things, this year marks 50th anniversary of his life on the stage.  His recital at Berliner Philharmonie on Oct. 3 was held in commemoration of the anniversary.
After he finished the Chopin's sonata, Zimerman talked to the audience, saying that when he played in Berlin for the first time in 1976, the wall was out there and the scene in the vicinity of Berliner Philharmonie was very different.  He said he felt proud of playing in Berlin again.  As an encore, he played the first movement of Beethoven's sonata "moonlight", saying "I should have played a German piece", and the music was eventually turning into melody of "Happy Birthday"; it fell on the day of German integration.

According to a tweet by a fan, last night, before the recital in Kyoto began, a message from Zimerman was announced, requesting not to record the performance.  It was said that because of the illicit recording and uploading of his performances on the Youtube, a plan of recording with the recording company was suspended, resulting in a litigation.

It is quite regrettable.  I've also read from a review in Paris that there was a poster on the wall of the hall (Salle Pleyel) to ban recording his performance.  We must understand the importance of each performance for both artists and audiences - it actually is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and refrain from such a behavior.  Spreading performances in such a manner is rather harmful, or not sustainable to say the least.


"I'm more nervous about amateur recordings of concerts that appear on the Internet, because the sound quality of these recordings is very poor".
 (Rafał Blechacz, from an interview in 2009.)



Rafał Blechacz began his tour in Spain in Barcelona

Rafał Blechacz began his tour in Spain with a recital at L'Auditori Barcelona on November 15.

"Tonight yet again big ovation in Barcelona for Rafał Blechacz's recital. Barely the first part ended when the public burst in enthusiastic clapping and shouting "Bravo, bravo!!". Even more enthusiasm and and more shoutings after the recital ended. He thanked the public with two encores".
(R.F.)


News release by L'Auditori Barcelona
Rafał Blechacz inaugurates program of chamber music at L’Auditori.
 .....The Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz comes to the Auditorium to open the program on November 15 at 20.30...... Blechacz is the first and only pianist awarded five first prizes at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw (2005). Even the second prize was dismissed to make clear the exceptionally artistic pianist.
In 2012, the Chopin expert released his fourth album with the label Deutsche Grammophon, featuring works by Szymanowski and Debussy...

Nov 14, 2012

Review of Blechacz's recital in Nancy, France

A review of the recital that Rafał Blechacz gave at Salle Poirel, Nancy, France on November 12, posted on estrepublicain.fr in the following morning.

(Quote)
MUSIC THE PIANIST Rafał Blechacz IN RECITAL YESTERDAY SALLE POIREL

The superb articulation

THE GREAT AND BEAUTIFUL PIANO for the first concert of the season by the Lorraine Association of Chamber Music last night, at Salle Poirel.


© Denis Mousty, estrepublicain.fr










Rafał Blechacz began his recital with the Partita No. 3 in A minor by Bach. With a very beautiful sense of phrasing and articulation, he gave an interpretation of great elegance by this suite of dances. He didn’t allow himself in fantasy, but nevertheless, there was nothing cold or stiff in his playing.

From the Sonata No. 7 in D major by Beethoven that followed, we note a poignant song of largo and subtle changes of colors in the final rondo.

The young Pole has given a beautiful lesson to many French apprentice pianists, even to those very experienced, with his version of the Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy. Exercising moderation of the pedal, he was able to give a playful turn to minuet and passepied and render all the dreamy atmosphere of the most famous “Clair de lune”.

He was even more in his element with the First Sonata in C minor by Karol Szymanowski. From the initial allegro to the final fugue, a grandiose sound construction in which there was no display of virtuosity, but only the desire to clearly bring out the epic character.

Receiving a big ovation, as encores, the young artist offered a slow waltz by Chopin, with magnificent timbre.

By Didier HEMARDINQUER
(Unquote)


Original review article from estrepublicain.fr

MUSIQUE LE PIANISTE RAFAL BLECHACZ EN RÉCITAL, HIER SALLE POIRE

LUNE SUPERBE ARTICULATION

DU GRAND ET BEAU PIANO pour le premier concert de la saison de l’Association lorraine de musique de chambre, hier soir, salle Poirel.

Rafal Blechacz a débuté son récital avec la Partita n°3 en la mineur de Bach. Avec un très beau sens du phrasé et de l’articulation, il a donné de cette suite de danses une interprétation d’une grande élégance. Il ne s’est pas autorisé de fantaisie, mais pour autant, il n’y avait rien de froid ni de compassé dans son jeu. De la Sonate n° 7 en ré majeur de Beethoven qui suivait, on retiendra le chant poignant du largo et les changements subtils de couleurs dans le rondo final. Le jeune Polonais a donné une belle leçon à beaucoup d’apprentis pianistes français, voire à de très confirmés, avec sa version de la Suite bergamasque de Claude de Debussy. Usant avec modération de la pédale, il a su donner un tour enjoué au menuet et au passepied et rendre toute l’atmosphère rêveuse du célébrissime Clair de lune.

Il était encore davantage dans son élément avec la Première sonate en do mineur de Karol Szymanowski. De l’allegro initial à la fugue finale, une grandiose construction sonore dans laquelle il n’y avait pas d’étalage de virtuosité, mais seulement la volonté d’en faire ressortir le caractère épique. Ovationné, le jeune artiste a offert en bis une valse lente de Chopin magnifiquement timbrée.

Didier HEMARDINQUER


Japanese

*****
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Nov 13, 2012

A big success for Rafał in Nancy

On November 12, Rafał Blechacz gave a Recital @Salle Poirel, Nancy, France.

"Again a big success for Rafał Blechacz in Nancy. Tonight's recital at the Salle Poirel brought a big ovation already after the first part. At the end not only thunderous clapping but also shoutings of "Bravo! Bravo!" were heard for an extended time so he responded to such an enthusiasm by playing for encore two pieces by Chopin".
(R.F.)














*****
Following is an impression of the recital written by an audience member at Salle Poirel.

"So I finally could attend to one of Rafał's concert... I was so glad. I've been waiting for this for 5 years. I honestly couldn't realize that it was finally happening.

He started with Bach 3rd partita. It was incredible, the articulation was amazing, there were lots of nuances and a great musicality. Once he had finished it, I heard someone say "Oh, he's really great. Really really great. He's already a great pianist."

Then he continued with Beethoven 7th sonata. Again, I was very pleased. The tempo was just perfect (very fast, but so articulated that it was actually an ideal tempo). The 2nd movement moved me very much... He has an incredible sound.

On the 2nd part he played Debussy (suite bergamasque). I have never heard so many colors in that music.

And at the end, he played Szymanowski's sonata in C minor. An extraordinary virtuosity mixed to a good comprehension of the text... What a beautiful interpretation! The audience was so pleased that he played 2 encores. 1st was Chopin's waltz op.34 no.2 in A minor. I had tears in my eyes. He is so touching when he plays Chopin... And the 2nd was Chopin's mazurka op.17 no.2 in a very energetic way! It was awesome.

After the concert he went in the hall to sign CDs or programs. I saw him and I discovered an extremely kind person. He was adorable.

I am still so moved by this evening. But the only word in my head now is "frustration". When you've been waiting for 5 years and when those 5 years are achieved in 1h30, it is very, very frustrating. One thing is sure: now that I live in France, I'll try to attend every concert he's giving here".

**Many thanks to Marine for sharing the precious experience with us.
   She said that now the frustration is over, with more satisfaction occupying her heart ♫




Nov 11, 2012

Polish Radio to broadcast Blechacz's recital at Fribourg university, Switzerland, Nov. 11

Rafał Blechacz's recital at Aula of Fribourg university, Switzerland (Nov. 2, 2011) will be broadcast by Polish Radio2,

@19:00 (CET), Sunday, November 11

Polish Radio2

*****
In Poland, TVP Kultura will broadcast Blechacz's playing Chopin Concerto in E-minor (2005)
@15:15, November 15.

One of the program sites


Nov 10, 2012

Rafał Blechacz's interview for PIANiSTE, May 2012 (France)

A fascinating interview that Rafał Blechacz gave to PIANiSTE, May 2012.

Original interview


Rafał Blechacz - The harmony of contrasts
by Stéphane Friédérich

--Impressionism logically reunites works of Debussy and Szymanowski ...

It was indeed the first idea of ​​the program. The result is significantly different. I especially thought about recording works of the second period by Szymanowski, such as Metopes op. 29, close to the impressionism of Debussy. Finally, I chose to sharply contrast the writings in order to for example compare the colors and temperaments of two musicians who have created their own language. The period that I have chosen is associated with impressionism and expressionism. In the Pole, the modulations are as unexpected as those of La Soirée dans Grenade from Estampes by the French. Despite their opposition of styles, the two compositions belong to two neighboring sensibilities stemming from the same sources.

--It can be safely said that the art of modulation in Szymanowski has its origins in Chopin. Is it the same in young Debussy?

Absolutely. However, you suggest that compositions by Chopin determined my interpretation of Debussy, but it is exactly the opposite that happened: I interpret Chopin differently because Debussy's music is part of my sonorous universe. We can talk about further the past. The works by Debussy are characterized primarily by great respect for classicism. The tribute is perfectly distinct in the Prelude of the cycle Pour le piano. To interpret it, you must have the two hands completely independent, but also consider that it is a quasi-staccato and the pedal must be by the "millimeter". Finally, we must remember the polyphonic clarity of Bach's Partitas!


--How would you define impressionism in music?

Certainly not like the aural equivalent of painting! One might think that the impressionist music evokes the imprecision of timbre, a permanent employment of the pedal ... The music of Debussy is, on the contrary, of unprecedented precision, most written than ever. The musician does not experiment: he has already thought of the color and does not play anything that is not explicitly in his scores.

--It remains in the spirit of French music with Tempo di minuetto of Sonata op. 8 of Szymanowski. One almost hears Ravel's Sonatine ...

I am quite of your opinion. These are polyphonic fragments both simple and of extremely rich harmonics. This sonata is very close to the classical form. But if we take the example of L’Isle joyeuse, Debussy brought a very classic combination to it, too. We don't have to say the piece inspired by a painting by Watteau?

--Apart from the influence of classicism, the exoticism remains as a component of the writings by Debussy and Szymanowski ...

I realized the strength of the Asian exoticism, if present in Debussy - known for his fascination with gamelan, for example - when I played Estampes for the first time in concert. It was in Japan and won a prize at the Hamamatsu Piano competition. I enjoyed trip to visit temples and pagodas especially in Tokyo and in the north. The atmosphere of these places impressed me profoundly. Shortly after this trip, I went to Granada, Spain. Another culture, another sound dimension when you visit this city! These two experiences, one after another had a profound echo in my way of playing. I understand better what composers felt. Debussy never went to Spain. And yet, his music restores it with incredible authenticity. For his part, Szymanowski, who traveled to North Africa before the First World War, has also been influenced by a culture that was alien to him.

--However, Szymanowski reserved a large place for Polish folklore ...

Returning to Polish folklore is later, mazurkas beginning in 1920’s. But like Chopin, Szymanowski was inspired by ancient dances to color a modern language. His scores are never choreographic.

 --Who are the interpreters of the past that you have marked for the repertoire of Debussy?

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Alfred Cortot, Walter Gieseking ... Cortot deeply impressed me by the Children's Corner. He belongs to immense personalities who made a new listening of the work. But what I remember most readily is their sense of construction that determines all the parameters of their interpretations. Their art has been pushed so far that it becomes a kind of philosophical rule. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, is certainly the one who has most successfully combined intellectual search and sincere expression of feelings.

--Let's talk about your musical education ...

I do not come from a family of professional musicians. However, my parents are music lovers and there was always a piano at home. My first musical impact was not piano, but the organ. As a child, I went to church and I wanted to be an organist. I took my first lessons with a private teacher, then at the music school in Bydgoszcz. It was rather late, after winning my first competition in Poland, at the age of ten that I realized that the piano was definitely the instrument of choice. I didn’t think about becoming a professional musician until later, when I realized that I touched the audience and took pleasure in that. I never gave up the organ. Whenever I have a free time and can go to the tribune of an organ, I play for my own pleasure. When younger, I composed, too. A musician cannot be content with his single instrument. He needs to nourish himself from other artistic expressions. Over time, they apparently become indispensable. In my case, I am an avid reader of novels, books on the philosophy of music and I'm also a big movie fan.

--How was the education by your teachers, Jacek Polanski and Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń at the Conservatory of Bydgoszcz?

With my first teacher, Jacek Polanski, I worked primarily on Bach. His teaching is very traditional, based on the foundations of piano technique. It is thanks to him that I won a prize at Gorzów Bach Competition at the age of 11. I studied a lot of pieces by Czerny, Clementi, Mozart, mostly pieces from the classical repertoire. My "first" Chopin was Nocturne op. 32 No. 2. What a shock to discover harmony and melody so beautiful! For Chopin, I became insatiable! Other shocks of music took place at the age of 14: a recital of pieces by Szymanowski, then with Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, a great interpreter of Chopin, I discovered the works of Debussy.

--How did you experience the beginning of your career, especially after the Chopin Competition in Warsaw?

The most important thing has been to maintain a balance between concerts, recordings and life away from the keyboard! For a musician, the time of reflection, rest and learning new scores is at least as important as that of working on the piano. Because I need as much time for it, I want a fixed number of appearances on stage. As it happens, I play between 40 to 45 times per year.

--Tell us about your repertoire….

For now, I’m learning several concertos. Next year, I will have priority to concertos with orchestra over solo recitals. As for chamber music, I’m preparing works for violin and piano by Mozart and Szymanowski that I’ll play in June 2013 at the Philharmonie in Berlin with one of the solo violinists from Berlin Philharmonic, Daniel Stabrawa. As a soloist, I work on the works of Tansman and Lutosławski, among others. One of my dreams is to record the complete Chopin mazurkas. To play a few works is relatively easy. But to give an integral and thus find the most satisfactory reading for each period, it is much more difficult. It would almost choose different pianos and acoustics in relation to cycles!



--Specifically, do you give much importance to the choice of instruments?

The choice of piano is less decisive than that of its tunings especially harmonization. However, having possibility to select an instrument is chance. This is what I did for this recording devoted to Debussy and Szymanowski. I wanted a piano which is very colorful, and at the same time, especially for Szymanowski, with a great power because the dynamics are significant.

--What advice would you give to amateur pianists who are addressing the music of Szymanowski?

Your question is not evident, because his work often requires substantial technical means. I think you need to skip the first creative period of the composer because pages are often of great virtuosity. Matured repertoire including mazurkas are more affordable or the very first Preludes op. 1. But the purely pianistic aspect should not hide the fact that the atmospheres and style of the works are very special. You cannot separate the two aspects of a work, the technique of one side and the music reproduction on the other. With Szymanowski, everything must be tackled with head on, from the deciphering. That is to say that you must listen to performers who know this music. This is the only guarantee not to commit a mistake in style.

--Since you mentioned virtuosity, what does this word mean to you?

Virtuosity allows you to judge physical condition of your hands. And that's all! It is for me, this is a kind of a test that I have when playing eg Chopin Etudes "reconstituted" by Godowsky.

--Tell us how you organize your working ...

When I'm on tour for a series of concerts, I play less than usual. This may seem odd, but I prefer to maintain a certain freshness of mind and give the best performance that I can do at the recital, and immerse myself, whenever possible, in the atmosphere of the places where I perform. Otherwise, usually I'm in front of the piano for six to seven hours daily, interspersed with many breaks. My day usually starts with the works that I programmed for concerts. When I was younger, I started by playing pieces by Bach such as two or three works from the Goldberg Variations and Chopin’s Etudes as well.

--Speaking of Bach and Chopin, are you careful in the choice of editions?

For Chopin, especially at the Warsaw competition, I worked on the Paderewski Edition. Regarding Bach, you can hardly do without Urtext materials today. And in my case, because I'm used to it from my childhood, it is Peters Edition.


Japanese



Nov 2, 2012

Tickets sold out in one day for recital in Musashino, Tokyo

Rafał Blechacz's recital @Musashino Civic Cultural Hall, Tokyo (Feb. 1, 2013);
Tickets began to sell today and sold out on the same day.



Tickets for the next day @Saitama Arts Theater Concert Hall (Feb. 2) are almost sold out (only 27 20 12 seats remain unreserved.)

Interview & CD review from PIANiSTE (France)

A fascinating interview that Rafał Blechacz gave to PIANiSTE, May this year ♫

Interview

and a review of his album Debussy Szymanowski

Review