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Mar 15, 2013

"I wanted to be an organist ..." interview for Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich MAGAZIN

An interview that Rafał Blechacz gave for Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich MAGAZIN Feb./March 2013 issue when he was planning to perform Beethoven's 2nd piano concerto with the Orchestra in Feb./March period as has been already reported.

Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich MAGAZIN
Go to page 4 and 5 for Blechacz's interview.

(Quote)
At the beginning I wanted to be an organist ...

Only once, and it was already six years ago, that Rafał Blechacz played with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich under David Zinman. Now the winner of the 15th Chopin Competition in Warsaw, a magical shining star in the universe of piano is back, - and then accompanying the orchestra on its tour in Germany.


Rafał Blechacz, do you still remember your first appearance in Zürich?

Yes, very well. David Zinman is a great conductor. We played the first piano concerto by Chopin, and Zinman went fantastically subtle with rubato. Because in Chopin some rubato is essential and Zinman followed me wonderfully.

Now you come with Beethoven's second Piano Concerto. What criteria do you have in selecting your repertoire?

For me it is extremely important to play only those pieces that are very close to my heart. Currently they are the second and the fourth piano concertos by Beethoven, I’m focused on both lately. From time to time even the third, but the second is for me the most important in the current season. It is the work by a still young composer, the first sketch going back to Beethoven’s Bonn years. Nevertheless, one can already hear the typical Beethoven-style here.

How do you rate the Grossen Saal (Great Hall) of the Tonhalle?

An absolutely amazing hall. And here is a very good quality grand piano. That's why I'm always happy if I can appear with a piano recital. Because the hall is exactly the right size.

You limit your performances to approximately forty concerts a year. These are relatively few ...

But it’s not possible to have more now. I must restrict myself to have enough time to write my dissertation. It is a small book, on hermeneutics of the music works, and indeed from a perspective of music philosophy. The first chapter is devoted to logic of music, the second is about freedom of an interpreter in the context of the musical logic. In the third I touch upon musical metaphysics, and in the final chapter I would like to describe some of my own thoughts and experiences on the basis of the three preceding chapters, i.e. from my personal experience as an interpreter.

When can we congratulate you on doctorate? 

If all goes well in two years. Because I want to finish study before I become thirty.

Since you won in 2005 the 15th Warsaw Chopin Competition, you have been treated as Chopin specialist. Can it also be a burden? 

Actually, I am free in the compilation of my programs. Sure, sometimes you have to discuss with a concert organizer. Above all Japan initially wanted only Chopin. But that has changed even there now. And in my first piano recital in Germany, I already placed - next to Chopin - Sonatas by Haydn and Beethoven in the program. More and more I try to combine Chopin with other composers. For example, with Szymanowski. In the next season probably I will also play Bach.

For the first time? 

On the contrary, Bach was my first musical love. Originally I really wanted to be an organist. I remember well how I went as a child with my parents to the church and heard there organ music for the first time. I was so fascinated that I really wanted to be an organist. Later I ended up playing the piano ...

Fortunately! Do you still play organ? 

In any case.

Are there new CD projects? How free are you here in your own decisions? 

So far, I was always able to record what I wanted. Of course I hope that it will also continue to work. The latest recording project is a CD of Chopin with Polonaises.

Is it true that you are traveling for concert tours all the way from Poland with your own car even in winter? 

Yes, as far as it can be done. My father accompanied me each time.

Does your father drive? 

We take turns. Driving is relaxing. In addition, I always have books at hands. Philosophy of music fascinates me - an ideal way of how musicology is supported by philosophy.

WERNER PFISTER
(Unquote)

** On page 28 and 29, you can see an article of Lionel Bringuier (26), the chief conductor & music director designate for 2014/15 of Tonhalle-Orchester, who replaced David Zinman for the concerts in Berlin and Hannover.

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