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Chopin - Piano Concertos


The third album Rafał Blechacz recorded for Deutsche Grammophon with Piano Concertos by Chopin. International Release Date: 5 October 2009.



Concerto for Piano and Orchestra no. 1 in E minor, op. 11 41:08
e-moll - en mi mineur
1. Allegro maestoso 20:50
2. Romance. Larghetto 10:38
3. Rondo. Vivace 9:40

Live recording

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra no. 2 in F minor, op. 21 33:32
f-moll - en fa mineur
4. Maestoso 14:42
5. Larghetto 9:58
6. Allegro vivace 8:52

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam
Jerzy Semkow
CD 00289 477 8088 (International version)
CD 00289 477 8528 (Polish version)
Available as download
Recording: Amsterdam, Het Concertgebouw, 7/2009
Executive Producer: Christian Leins
Producer: Arend Prohmann
Recording Engineer (Tonmeister): Rainer Maillard
Assistant Engineer: Joost Dellebarre
Project Coordinator: Matthias Spindler
Piano Technician: Michel Brandjes

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The tasteful and stylish Blechacz highlights much detail that is often overlooked . . . the Concertgebouw strings are wonderfully atmospheric.

/ Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone (London) / 01. December 2009

This is a very fine account of the two concertos from the young Polish pianist RafalBlechacz . . . he has such effortless authority, and such a lack of distracting mannerisms that his joyous playing is that of a youthful master . . . some hypnotically beautiful lines in the slow movements of both concertos, and there's plenty of fire in his playing where it's needed. His Chopin sound is beautifully voiced: he captures the unique sonority of this music exceptionally well and does so with a sure sense of direction, too.

/ Nigel Simeone , International Record Review (London) / 01. December 2009

He does possess a real sympathy for the composer and a strong set of fingers . . . The e minor Concerto benefits from the long orchestral introduction, plastic and warm, courtesy of the Royal Concertgebouw strings, winds, horns, and recording engineer Rainer Maillard. The transition to E Major is perhaps the first movement¿s most fascinating contribution, the three main themes supported by a minimalist orchestral tissue that provides a kind of halo around the keyboard. The general tone of the movement lies in the nocturne, which Blechacz applies with a silken line, shaded by personal rubato and degrees of dynamic variety that prove most engaging. When the rhythm picks up, quasi-krakowiak, the mutual filigree between piano and inflamed orchestra becomes dramatically intense, certainly on a par with the classic collaborations by Brailowsky and Rubinstein. The balance of bravura and poetry Blechacz negotiates with pearly fervor . . . I well like the move to the recapitulation, with Semkow¿s underlining the bass harmonies and insisting on clear articulation from the woodwinds. The Larghetto, too, exploits E major as a source of poetic reverie, and Blechacz integrates his cantilena into a color brew that includes some strong writing for the bassoon. Several thoughtful ritards inform this rendition, whose declamatory-parlando episodes convey as rich a tapestry as the brilliant fioritura that owes its vocal, even chime-like quality to the influence of Bellini¿s operas. The last movement . . . sings in the syncopated duple meter quite fleetly in Blechacz¿s modulated performance. What I particularly admire in this rendition is the feeling of freedom both Blechacz and Semkow impart, the national figures seeming to arise spontaneously out of their own lyric impulse . . . [The f minor Concerto]: Blechacz emphasizes the vertical unity and contiguity of the two hands, their often bold accommodation of Lydian harmony to Chopin¿s own uses. The martial swagger of the first movement has rarely enjoyed such a superb notion of harmonic closure. The heart of the f minor Concerto, again, lies in the wonderful Larghetto movement . . . The sparkling filigree back to the da capo mark Blechacz as a special sound at the keyboard.

/ Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition / 21. February 2010

Blechacz performs Chopin concertos very frankly and spontaneously … it’s all about a skillfully displayed detail. Rubato is played gently and emphatically at the same time. Blechacz indulges in feelings, but never becomes sentimental and avoids unnatural peculiarity. Original and sovereign keeping within the bounds.

/ Manuel Brug, Die Welt (Berlin) / 8 October, 42009

… his interpretations are captivating due to their solemnity like the continuation of Zimerman’s ethos in Chopin interpretations. Any superficiality or effective conduct are strange to him. It is deep solemnity and lyrical profundity that dominate in both concertos.
The compositions are not displayed just like that or demonstrated. Not at all. Their structure is analysed vertically and horizontally. The picture of Chopin which became even more transformed by numerous artistically „inflated interpretations“, finally gets the right place. Owing to the accompaniment of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Semkow, it can be clearly and evidently seen that this composer is definitely not an emotionally oversensitive neurotic, but a successor of romantic Beethoven. We or rather ought to thank RafałBlechacz for raising this all to the right level.

/ Jürgen Otten, Rondo (Munich) / 30 January, 2010

… He just gets Achilles’ heel, in the very centre, where a sophisticated genius hits not ‘just like that’. You’d better listen to the preface to the topic of the slow part of the second concerto: it is lyrically intensive, deep breath and the power of subtle, chivalrous elegance and melancholy which is characteristic for the spiritual centre of Chopin. You may also have an impression of naturalness and cordiality – a clear, fresh and energetic interpretation which does not seem to be pompous or constrained and which is characterized by beautiful legato and a dialogue with a horn. The way RafałBlechacz understands and consistently holds a dialogue in f-minor concerto, proves the commitment of his grand and creative imagination to his play.

/ Markus Schering, Cloner Stadt-Anzeiger / 5 February, 2010

Rarely indeed are these compositions successfully played as one can easily perform them as a kind of artistic fireworks or symphonic massif. Keeping that in mind, RafalBlechacz found a solution: this young star from Poland recognizes in them long chamber meditations to which he listens afresh. He is carefully and persistently accompanied by the Concertgobouw Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Semkow.

/ KulturSpiegel (Hamburg) / 1 November, 2009.

This young compatriot of Chopin brings his maestro’s music closer to Poles in the way no one has ever done it before – not only to Poles but first of all to the fans of Chopin music all around the world.

/ MDR Figaro (Leipzig) /2 November, 2009

. . . pearl-light, elegant and, if necessary, energetic culture of sound which is hardly ever cherished in the circle of virtuosos … Indeed a successful contribution to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Chopin 2010.

/ Lothar Brandt, Audio (Stuttgart) / 1 February 2010.

. . . Blechacz performs as an outstanding piano virtuoso . . .

/ Werner Fritsch, Hessisch-NiedersächsischeAllgemeineZeitung (Kassel) / 20 February, 2010.

Unique compositions characterized by simple clarity and a good sense of Chopin tone poetry.

/ Max Nyffeler, NeueMusikzeitung (Frankfurt) / 1 March, 2010.


For a long time has RafalBlechacz been someone more than just a well promising music talent. On his two former solo CDs he kept his promise in such a unique way … Blechacz plays in style and with dignity, each sound is treated seriously and exceptionally.

/ Werner Pfister, Musik&Theater (Zurich) / 1 March 2010.


In its intimacy, Blechacz playing is created for romantics: given all this finger acrobatics, a fable delicacy is preserved. Blechacz achieves it by subtle tapping and even to a greater extent by the sense of tempo … the pace of his piano concertos … never abates. One can hear gentle passages as well as dance rhythms which are even empowered by accompaniment of the great Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by a Polish conductor Jerzy Semkow.

/ ChristophIrrgeher, Wiener Zeitung / 25 March, 2010.

One would like to think what new such a young pianist like RafalBlechacz has to say about Chopin compositions. Astoundingly a lot. As a Pole at a relatively the same age as Chopin when composed his two Piano Concertos, he has found not only a deeply emotional approach to them but a refined culture of playing; he is able to spiritualize Chopin music without leaving the dramatic quality in the background. (…) to the accompaniment of the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Semkow, he creates an interpretation clearly displaying every single detail.

/ OberösterreichischeNachrichten (Linz) / 2 April, 2010.

This young pianist and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Semkow in the concert hall filled to capacity were given a tremendous standing ovation … The Amsterdam audience had an opportunity to listen to two Chopin Piano Concertos which are rarely indeed performed at this kind of level also by the professional Concertgebouw Orchestra … Also this time the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra once again displayed the Best team of music artists: accurate and harmonious sounding … It is not his interest to set Speer records, even if he entrance with pure sound presented in triolets in the closing section of the second concerto. Agonic fantasy with which he forms the motives of the opening section of the first concerto can be compared to the famous Argerich interpretation … in the slower sections he is very careful to add an inside drama effect to piano “coloratum”, in particular in larghetto of the second concerto there is so much fascinating lightness and elegance with which Blechacz presents the Chopin story playing rubato. The closing sections are performed with this Slavic enthusiasm. The rondo in the first concerto sounds gorgeous thanks to the ‘blazing’ playing of Blechacz … In a very sovereign manner according to the synthesis resulting from the Slavic temperament and French lightness, Blechacz plays allegro vivace in the second concerto.
The naturalness of the Chopin playing performed by Blechacz recalls the great Arthur Rubinstein.

/ Mario-Felix Vogt, Fono Forum Piano Festival (Euskirchen) / 1 June, 2010.


… the young Polish artist presented a colourful, sophisticated music, penetrating, fluent and iridescent to the accompaniment of the Concertgobouw Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Semkow.

/ Etienne Moreau, Diapason (Paris) / 1 February, 2010


Blechacz in his interpretation uses an incredibly melodious technique. He can create a phrase which can be compared to an expressive curve played in the chiaroscuro. He also revives rhetoric if needed. His performance is so luring thanks to its incredible freshness and charm. Such an amazing colour palette. Blechacz brings his personal profile … The contribution of the Royal Concertgobouw Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Semkow provided a great support to him …

/ Julian Sykes, Le Temps (Genève) / 13 February, 2010