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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released February 10, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Exceptional Sound Productions - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz (pronunciation perilous for non-Poles, but try "BLEH-hotch") made his name as a young Chopin specialist, but has often featured Bach's Italian Concerto in F major, BWV 971, in concert. The Bach-Chopin connection is one that would have made perfect sense to Chopin himself, and here Blechacz expands it to full program length, with impressive results indeed. He may remind you of Dinu Lipatti, another Eastern European Chopin player whose Bach was haunting: sample the gentle and yet awesomely clear first movement of the Partita No. 1 in B flat major, BWV 825. Blechacz's Italian Concerto has great forward urgency without ever breaking tempo. The program has an intelligent structure of its own, placing the rather rare Four Duets, BWV 802-805 -- essentially expanded two-part inventions -- at the center: the music seems to enter a deeper chromatic realm and then slowly depart from it with another partita, and finally, with the arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Dame Myra Hess, another pianist whom Blechacz may bring to mind. If it seems wrong to bring up these big names, well, just give the album a listen. With this release Blechacz definitively transcends young phenom status. The metal-oriented Friedrich-Ebert-Halle arena in Ludwigshafen is a bit large and impersonal for what Blechacz is trying to do here, although everything's clear.

Classical - Released January 1, 2008 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 9 de Classica-Répertoire
Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz, born in 1985, swept all five top prizes at the Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2005. Much-hyped in an age when hype is not enough to sell a new young classical artist, he seems to have the skills to deliver the goods. Here, in three well-trodden works from the Classical period, he offers fresh readings based on tremendous agility at the keyboard. In Mozart and Haydn, his is the approach of an Eastern European pianist trained in the Romantics. His playing is a bit like that of Evgeny Kissin in this repertory. In all three of the sonatas here, he has the fingers to run through scalar material very fast, with perfect smoothness, and he uses these skills to generate a light, playful approach. The tight chronological focus of the program works to his advantage; by programming a late Haydn sonata against an early Beethoven one, he brings you into the currents of influence from Haydn, Beethoven's teacher, that shaped Beethoven's early music. But unlike so many other artists who use a modern grand piano to push the Haydn Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob. 16/52, in the direction of Beethoven, Blechacz takes the opposite approach. The block chords of his Haydn opening movement are light springboards for rapid passagework with all kinds of small humorous details, and the Beethoven seems to grow directly from this language. The development sections of his sonata-form movements have a lot of forward momentum, and the slow movements of all three works show a young pianist acquainted with the nearly lost art of a really charismatic cantabile. If there's a weakness it's the concluding Mozart Piano Sonata in D major, K. 284, where his light touch seems at odds with the sonic bigness of the opening movement. Mozart here was working with a new instrument, the fortepiano, that seemed to suddenly give him the capability to imitate orchestral textures, and Blechacz is so subtle that this quality is lost. This disc neverthless shows a developing young artist who is living up to the hype.

Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason

Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica

Classical - Released May 1, 2010 | CD Accord

Classical - Released February 10, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz (pronunciation perilous for non-Poles, but try "BLEH-hotch") made his name as a young Chopin specialist, but has often featured Bach's Italian Concerto in F major, BWV 971, in concert. The Bach-Chopin connection is one that would have made perfect sense to Chopin himself, and here Blechacz expands it to full program length, with impressive results indeed. He may remind you of Dinu Lipatti, another Eastern European Chopin player whose Bach was haunting: sample the gentle and yet awesomely clear first movement of the Partita No. 1 in B flat major, BWV 825. Blechacz's Italian Concerto has great forward urgency without ever breaking tempo. The program has an intelligent structure of its own, placing the rather rare Four Duets, BWV 802-805 -- essentially expanded two-part inventions -- at the center: the music seems to enter a deeper chromatic realm and then slowly depart from it with another partita, and finally, with the arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Dame Myra Hess, another pianist whom Blechacz may bring to mind. If it seems wrong to bring up these big names, well, just give the album a listen. With this release Blechacz definitively transcends young phenom status. The metal-oriented Friedrich-Ebert-Halle arena in Ludwigshafen is a bit large and impersonal for what Blechacz is trying to do here, although everything's clear.

Classical - Released January 13, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
Rafal Blechacz has established an international reputation as a winner of piano competitions, and he has repeatedly demonstrated his strengths in the concerto repertoire. Yet several of his recordings for Deutsche Grammophon show him in a more intimate role as a recitalist, playing solo piano music by such masters of the keyboard as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin. For this 2013 release, Blechacz has chosen seven of Chopin's published Polonaises, character pieces based on the traditional Polish dance form that became important statements of national pride. Blechacz undoubtedly pours his own feelings about his native country in these pieces, since the performances are unabashedly passionate and stirring, and the amount of rubato he uses suggests that he plays with intense emotional involvement. This is an openly Romantic style of playing Chopin that, for a time, fell out of favor in the late 20th century, but Blechacz seems to play in his own considered manner, free of trends and expectations, and he shapes these polonaises with a highly personal expression that isn't found in any other interpretations. Some might feel that Blechacz exaggerates effects at times, making the music more extraverted or theatrical than is necessary, but the grand style works for him, and his consistency shows that he has weighed his options carefully and found that the Polonaises especially require the bravura treatment.

Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
Although there is some lovely playing here, there is more in Chopin's music than can be found in most of Rafal Blechacz's performances. It isn't that the young Polish pianist lacks the technique. Blechacz can rip through the rippling filigree of the D minor Allegro appassionato that closes Opus 28 Préludes as quickly as the best pianists of the past. And Blechacz surely has soul. His sustained Lento in the A minor Prélude from Opus 28 is beautifully phrased and pedaled. But listeners who know these pieces may find themselves wanting more. There's a lack of tempo rubato in the rising and falling lines of the C sharp minor Prélude, Op. 45 that makes the work seem oddly inflexible, and a want of depth in the sonorities of his E major Nocturne, Op. 62, that shows the performer's youth. Yet Blechacz clearly has it in him to be a great Chopin player. The controlled pacing of his E minor Prélude, Op. 28, and the affecting simplicity of his A major Prélude from the same set are remarkably poised and poetic. Captured in clean but evocative digital sound by Deutsche Grammophon, this disc is worth hearing more for what it promises than for what it delivers.