Recital Features Works by Beethoven,Bach, Szymanowski, and Chopin
Middlebury, VT—Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz makes his Vermont debut with the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series on April 23. In 2005, at the tender age of 20, Blechacz became the sole recipient of all five first prizes at the 15th International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. ABC News reported that one of the judges felt he “so outclassed the remaining finalists that no second prize could actually be awarded.” Blechacz’s concert program will include Bach’s Partita no. 3, Beethoven’s op. 10/3, Szymanowski’s first sonata, and two polonaises and a scherzo by Chopin.
Born in 1985 in Poland, Blechacz began his piano studies at age five, and continued his musical education at the Artur Rubinstein State School of Music in Bydgoszcz. In May 2007, he graduated from the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, where he studied with Professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń. Since then, he has won numerous prestigious prizes and awards at music festivals and competitions worldwide.
After his Chopin competition win, the New York Times described Blechacz as already offering “deep, contemplative interpretations with underlying solid technique that no other young musician can emulate.” The victory opened the doors of the most famous concert halls of the world, including Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, Berlin’s Philharmonie, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Tonhalle in Zurich, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Avery Fisher Hall in New York. He has performed with orchestras under the direction of such noted conductors as Valery Gergiev, Mikhail Pletnev, Charles Dutoit, David Zinman, Marek Janowski and Jerzy Maksymiuk.
In 2006, Blechacz signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon, becoming only the second Polish artis tto be signed under the prestigious label (the first was Krystian Zimerman, who has also graced the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series.) Blechacz’s first recording for Deutsche Grammophon was the complete Chopin Preludes, released in Europe in 2007. It attained Platinum Record status in Poland within the second week of its release, and was awarded with the German Echo Klassik and French Diapason D’or. The success of Blechacz’s 2008 disc of sonatas by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven prompted Deutsche Grammophon to release his third CD under its “yellow label” in 2009: a disc of Chopin Concerti, with Blechacz performing with the Concertgebouw Orchestra under the baton of Jerzy Semkow. The recording received a “Best of the Year” honor from Gramophone magazine and quickly achieved double platinum status in Poland. Blechacz’s fourth and latest recording, of the works of Debussy and Szymanowski, was released in 2012 and quickly achieved great critical acclaim. Blechacz’s rendition of the colossal Szymanowski sonata cemented his emergence as “one of the pianistic giants of our time” (The Times).
The concert will be preceded by a talk by Princeton conductor, musicologist, and Orwell native Ruth Ochs. She will share insights into Blechacz’s concert program—in particular, the music of Szymanowski.
Rafal Blechacz will perform on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, at 7:30 P.M., in the Concert Hall of the Mahaney Center for the Arts, on the campus of Middlebury College. The pre-concert talk by Ruth Ochs will take place at 6:45 P.M. in Room 221, adjacent to the Concert Hall. The Mahaney Center for the Arts is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. Free parking is available. Tickets for the concert are $20 for the general public; $15 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and $6 for Middlebury College students. For more information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to http://go.middlebury.edu/arts.
All photos of Mr. Blechacz by Felix Broede, courtesy Deutsche Grammophon