Rafal Blechacz: Starry Young Lisztian

(...)First on Mr. Blechacz's agenda was, appropriately, Bach — the Italian Concerto. This work is sometimes viewed as hackneyed, but not in fresh, capable hands — which Mr. Blechacz's are.

(…) Mr. Blechacz continued his program with three pieces of Liszt: "Waldesrauschen," "La leggierezza," and "Gnomenreigen." And he demonstrated what you ought to demonstrate in these pieces: a big technique and a Romantic imagination. In other words, Mr. Blechacz is a Lisztian. Throughout these pieces, when the pianist performed some technical feat, the man in front of me looked at his wife as if to say, "How 'bout that?" His amazement and pleasure was justified.
I am pleased to report that Mr. Blechacz's passagework was, by and large, smooth. And was "La leggierezza" sufficiently light (for its very name means lightness)? Yes.

(…) But the young man did himself proud in the B-minor sonata, that wonderful piece. The sonata is well suited to what seems to be his bold, masculine, devil-may-care style. Most of the sonata sounded smart and fresh. And Mr. Blechacz showed a fine sense of the architecture of the work.

(…) The people went mad for this tousle-haired youngster, screaming and stamping their feet. In due course, he sent them home with Chopin's famous, beguiling Waltz in C-sharp minor, which was very stylish and idiomatic.

JAY NORDLINGER August 19, 2008