Chopin: Rafal Blechacz: 15th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, 2005

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Dux
ALBUM TITLE: Chopin
WORKS: Rafal Blechacz: 15th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, 2005
PERFORMER: Rafal Blechacz (piano); Warsaw Philharmonic SO/Antoni Wit
CATALOGUE NO: 66
Rafa? Blechacz was the runaway

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winner of the 2005 Chopin

International Piano Competition. His

studio recording made six months

earlier – reviewed in January – made

a favourable impression, whetting the

appetite for these performances from

the competition itself (and indeed for

future projects now that he’s signed

to Deutsche Grammophon). The

highlights of the studio recital were

the Schumann and Szymanowski;

how does Blechacz shape up in this

revealing cross-section of Chopin?

While inevitably there are some

ups and downs, the overall standard

of his playing is exceptional. The

qualities familiar from the studio disc

are again evident here: specifically the

innate projection of musical line, the

sense of time and space for the music

to breathe, itself allied to Blechacz’s

refined feeling for texture and

voicing. The selection of Preludes, the

Op. 64 Waltzes and the A flat Etude

Op. 10 No. 10 all illustrate these

qualities with rare aplomb. However,

he’s not so convincing in the A flat

Polonaise, nor does he quite sustain a

sense of compelling narrative in the

B minor Sonata.

The other two (short) discs

contain respectively a raw and

ebullient performance of the E minor

Concerto – where Blechacz’s apparent

impatience with the Larghetto is offset

by an infectious sense of enjoyment

in the finale – and a recital crowning

him as the winner, which mostly

repeats material from the first disc.

Altogether these discs showcase an

extravagent if not yet fully developed

talent. This set gets four stars only

because not everything is of the same

hight standard; make no mistake,

Blechacz is a five-star pianist.

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Tim Parry