"He is a very honest, extraordinary and sensitive artist. Once when I heard Chopin’s Preludes on the radio,
I didn’t know who was playing but I loved the interpretation. It turned out to be Rafał Blechacz."
"Blechacz is one of the greatest artists
I have ever heard in my life"
In October 2005 emerged as unquestionable winner of the 15th Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland (to underscore his distinguished performance among the remaining Competition participants the international jury decided not to award the 2nd prize). All the special prizes of the Competition went to him as well: Polish Radio Prize for the best performance of the mazurkas, Frédéric Chopin Society Prize for the best performance of the polonaise, National Philharmonic of Poland Prize for the best performance of the concerto, and the Krystian Zimerman Prize for the best performance of the sonata. He also won the Audience Award.
Born in 1985 in Nakło nad Notecią, Bydgoszcz province, Poland, he began his piano lessons at the age of five. He continued his piano education at the Artur Rubinstein State School of Music in Bydgoszcz. Next, he progressed to study at the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, where he graduated in May 2007 from Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń’s piano class.
At the early stages of his career he took part in many music festivals and competitions that awarded him with prestigious prizes like the 1st Prize and Grand Prix at the 13th All-Poland Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Gorzów Wielokpolski in1996, and the 2nd Prize at the 5th International Young Pianists Competition “Artur Rubinstein in memoriam” in Bydgoszcz in 2002. His progress continued the following year when he was named co-winner of the 5th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan.
The victory of 2005 in Warsaw opened for him the doors of the world’s most renowned concert halls such as, the Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall in Lodon, Berliner Philharmonie, Herkulessaal in Munich, Alte Oper in Frankfurt/Main, Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Tonhalle in Zurich, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Avery Fisher Hall in New York, La Scala in Milan, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, just to name a few. The most acclaimed music festivals, such as Salzburg in Austria, Verbier in Switzerland, La Roque-d’Anthéron in France, Klavier Festival Ruhr in Germany and Gilmore Festival in the United States keep inviting Rafał Blechacz to perform time and time again. His appearances generate admiration and enthusiasm from music critics and concert goers around the world. He performed with the best symphonic orchestras under the direction of such conductors as Charles Dutoit, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Harding, Pavo Järvi, Fabio Luisi, Kent Nagono, Andris Nelsons, Viktor Pablo Perez, Trevor Pinnock, Mikhail Pletnev, Jerzy Semkow, John Storgards, Antoni Wit, i Dawid Zinman. In July 2010 he received the prestigious Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Siena, Italy) awarded annually by the international jury of music critics to the young musicians for their superb artistic achievements. In recent seasons Blechacz’s concerto appearances include Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 4 with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Milan’s Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Beethoven’s Concerto no. 3 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie and Concerto no. 2 with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Chopin’s Concerto no. 2 with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
In May 2006 he was invited to sign an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon becoming the second only Polish artist, after Krystian Zimerman, who had enlisted under this prestigious classical music label. His first Deutsche Grammophon CD with all the Preludes by Frédéric Chopin was released in Europe in October 2007 and attained the Platinum Record status in Poland as early as in the second week of sale. This CD won also other awards, such as the German Echo Klassik and French Diapason d’Or. His second Deutsche Grammophon CD with the sonatas by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven released a year later, in October 2008, won immediately a great praise from music critics and the listening public. Upon the big success of those two CDs he honored the Chopin Year 2010 by recording Chopin’s Concertos for the “Yellow Label” with the acclaimed Concertgebouw Orchestra (listed in 2009 by the British music magazine “Gramophone” as world’s No. 1) under the baton of Jerzy Semkow. Soon after, the Concertos CD was awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, a prestigious prize of the German music critics. After its release in Poland, it quickly reached the double Platinum Record status. His fourth Deutsche Grammophon CD entitled “Debussy/Szymanowski” was released on February 1, 2012. It received a great international acclaim and amassed excellent reviews as well as a title of the Recording of the Month from the British “Gramophone” for May 2012. In July 2012 Deutsche Phono-Akademie awarded the Debussy/Szymanowski CD with its distinguished annual prize ECHO-Klassik in the category of Piano-Solo recording of the year (20th/21st century). On April 25, 2013, for the same album again, Fryderyk, the most prestigious prize in the field of music in Poland, was awarded to him in the category of the classical music best recording of the year. He returns to Chopin for his latest Deutsche Grammophon album, a recording of the composer’s Polonaises nos. 1-7, released on September 6, 2013.
(…) Blechacz began his recital with an inspired performance of Debussy’s “Suite bergamasque.” His playing showed lots of tonal color and lyricism. He dallied with a light, delicate tone but shifted deftly to more powerful passages, including some terrific sforzandos in the second movement. The final movement was playful, but he kept it reigned in.Read more
(…) The artist transformed into a gifted interpreter as the Robert Schumann piano concerto began. As though he had been dealing with this kind of music for ages, he played so vigorously, clearly and in such an obvious way that one just can’t imagine it could have been performed otherwise.Read more
The Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz returned to Rome on Friday evening where he displayed a brilliant performance in the Santa Cecilia Hall in Auditorium Parco della Musica. (…) the pianist was received enthusiastically and cordially whereas for the audience it was an amazing evening, full of excellent virtuosity and elegance, eloquently applied for the sake of music.Read more
Pianist Rafal Blechacz performed a wide-ranging recital Tuesday night at Wertheim Performing Arts Center. The formidable Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz excelled in a recital that spanned from the Baroque to late romantic era Tuesday night at Florida International University’s Wertheim Auditorium. The event was jointly presented by Friends of Chamber Music and the Chopin Foundation of the United StatesRead more
Already in the variations about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Lison Dormaiy KV 264, the Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz presented his skills: perfect fluency and a gift for conjuring up feelings so naturally. Greater demands are stated by the Piano Sonata c-moll Op.8 No. 1, in which Karol Szymanowski presented all his virtues at the beginning of his career as a composer.Read more
(…) outstanding performance of the Chopin from the 26-year-old Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz. We and the LPO were lucky to get him. Blechacz has been developing an impressive career since he swept the board at the 2005 Chopin Competition (…).Read more
Many roads lead to Chopin, many start from Chopin. Rafał Blechacz sets off to search these roads, to Bach and Mozart and to – still not well known enough – the fellow countryman, Karol Szymanowski. With great power and incredible inside tension he presents monumental Sonata c-moll op.8 No. 1, which in an eclectic way connects numerous influences and combines them in a fascinating wholeness originating from late romanticism.Read more Read more
Rafał Blechacz, the extraordinarily talented young generation pianist of international reputation. At the age of 20 he won the Frederick Chopin Award in Warsaw and keeps developing himself. This recital proves his strong and intriguing personality which is thriving more and more year by year. He is not only a virtuoso, the piano is just brought to life under his fingers. How fascinating!Read more
Having attained a success in the last year’s season, the return of Rafał Blechacz - the unquestionable winner of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 2005 - to Auditorium Santa Cecilia was very much expected. Since then the pianist has been pursuing his wonderful international career.Read more
Rafał Blechacz belongs to this exclusive circle of artists who are out of this world. Being only 25 years old he has all the features one would expect in the best performer. He proved this in a very clear way at Teatro Victoria Eugenia yesterday, where he seemed to change the hall acoustics through the beauty of the sound he produced. Blechacz demonstrated that he is not just a machine that emits proper sounds of master quality but has also a genuine ability to be enraptured with music from the moment he begins to play.Read more
The Colosseum hall in Lübeck was filled to capacity during the Polish pianist concert (...) The first half of the programme was like a foundation. Bach's Partita No. 1 that opened the recital was a tribute to this unsurpassed and admired master. Blechacz plays the dance passages swiftly without academic stiffness. For a 25 year old his dexterity is magnificent. Every generation is entitled to rediscover Johann Sebastian Bach in its own way.Read more
(...) Afterwards the concert by the winner took place. During the performance Blechacz`s artistic qualities have blossomed just like a flower: by means of Bach he created the stem, he used Debussy to present the bud and Szymanowski to form the corolla while Chopin completed this beautiful flower of meaningful sound.Read more Read more
It is a rarity indeed so that so many outstanding young pianists aged 20-25, would set the trend to grand stages. All perform Chopin this year. However, only few of them play as well as Rafał Blechacz.Read more
A review written by Philip Kennicott and published by "Gramophone"(May 2010 issue) one of the influential classical music magazines. Kennicott writes about his experience of Rafał Blechacz's music--with his latest recording "Chopin The Piano Concertos" and his recital in Washington DC in March this year.Read more Read more
Pianist Rafal Blechacz's impressive debut at the Kennedy Center No cheap sports analogies are necessary to explain the magnitude of pianist Rafal Blechacz's win at the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in 2005.Read more
(...) Blechacz is completely in his element when it comes to execute with an utmost clarity and focus the right tone from a variety of countless nuances in the noble melancholy of Chopin's music. And so, the technical difficulties are not an issue for him as the 24 year old International Chopin Competition winner proved it in Karol Szymanowski`s dark but splendid variations devoted to Arthur Rubinstein.Read more Read more
Blechacz’s approach to Bach’s Italian Concerto was thoroughly unromantic. It brought a freshness to the perhaps overplayed piece that was young, light, and spirited, with a beautiful, plaintive but unsentimental and sometimes prayerlike cantilena in the second movement.Read more
Those who several months ago heard Lang Lang playing Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 in the Concertgebouw and now juxtapose it with Blechacz`s performance can reach only one conclusion: Lang Lang was playing Chopin but Blechacz had become Chopin.Read more
Because many in the audience at each Gilmore International Keyboard Festival have played the piano, few Festival programs give as much pleasure as solo piano recitals performed by exceptionally gifted players.Read more
The International Chopin Competition delivered sought after coryphaeuses; Maurizio Pollini and Krystian Zimmerman are considered to be the most famous ones. The last competition winner (2005) was Rafał Blechacz who is 22 now.Read more Read more Read more Read more
”Sensational!” some shouted. “He’s got everything before him,” others spoke in admiration. On Saturday, in Salle Médran (it was raining that evening), a Pole, Rafał Blechacz, caused a sensation by his unexpected performance instead of Lang Lang.Read more
He played the waltzes with charm and grace, clear and inspired were the études, the nocturne reflective and light at the same time; Barcarolle beautiful and with perfect dramaturgy, wondrous Scherzo in E-major. His performance was pure, his pianism clear, both moving and entrancing.Read more
PKN ORLEN has taken up the role of the sponsor for an extraordinary artistic event – the 15th edition of the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition. In addition, the company has financed the radio broadcasts of concerts together with the numerous events accompanying the contest.
As an active and responsible participant in public life PKN ORLEN committed itself to provide comprehensive financial assistance to the Chopin Piano Competition. The company’s intense involvement in the projects related to the contest constitutes the continuation of the concern’s praiseworthy endeavours intended to preserve the national heritage in the form of Chopin’s music.
The International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition was held for the first time in 1927 and it ranks among the oldest such musical festivals worldwide. It is universally perceived as one of the most significant cultural events enjoying well-deserved reputation and widespread recognition. This special occasion does not merely offer an opportunity for young musicians to compete against each other. It also serves as a valuable forum for exchange of views and ideas on the condition of Polish culture in general as well as provides a perfect venue for critics, musicologists, leading figures from the world of mass media, politics and economy, and last but not least for music lovers from all over the world.
The 15th edition of the competition was exceptional owing to the record number of competitors who entered for the contest. As many as 323 pianists took part in the competition preliminaries, out of whom 12 contestants managed to qualify for the grand final.
For years the Chopin Piano Competition has been accompanied by a number of additional events including occasional concerts, performances, meetings and press supplements. PKN ORLEN acted as the exclusive sponsor for the radio broadcasts and coverage featured on the 2nd Programme of Polish Radio – the only radio station where you could listen to the concerts broadcasts. They have always been enormously popular with listeners.
Besides, the company subsidized the special supplement to Rzeczpospolita newspaper devoted entirely to the 15th edition of the Piano Competition, its history, pianists and outstanding personalities. The insert also included a unique record with Frédéric Chopin’s music performed by Krzysztof Jabłoński.
What is more, PKN ORLEN became the exclusive partner in the OPEN FOR CHOPIN cycle of concerts organized in cooperation with Radio RMF FM Classic. During the sequence of events taking place in Cracow, Warsaw, Gdynia, Wroclaw and Szczecin the inhabitants of these cities were offered the opportunity to listen to Chopin’s music in both traditional and – somewhat unconventional – jazz renditions. The concerts were played by Janusz Olejniczak, Bartłomiej Kominek and Urszula Dudziak together with Michał Urbaniak.
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