DG 477 6592
Chopin Piano Concertos
DG 477 8088
Haydn / Mozart / Beethoven
DG 477 7453
Chopin's First Editions Online
The second half, devoted to Chopin (who maintained that his birthday was yesterday, March 1), began with a somewhat unremarkable performance of the third ballade (A♭ major, op. 47). Blechacz applied rubato to this music, of course, but by using it sparingly he made those passages that were treated with some rhythmic freedom stand out more. Refreshingly he was often unyielding in terms of tempo, no matter the technical demands, even in the outer sections of the B minor scherzo (op. 20), which were ruthlessly driven and sounded almost manic. The middle section, fragile and melancholy, was matched in poetic intensity by the final piece, a dreaming wandering rendition of the A♭ major polonaise-fantaisie, marked by a few savage passages (and an awkwardly self-conscious concluding touchdown gesture). A single encore, the A minor mazurka (op. 17/4), completed the picture of what set Blechacz so far above his competition in Warsaw -- not solely the brutal technical accomplishment and more the native familiarity with Polish folk music and dance forms and an unpredictable sense of melodic fancy.
Philip Kennicott, Pianist Rafal Blechacz's impressive local debut at the Kennedy Center (Washington Post, March 1)
The next piano recital hosted by WPAS will feature Russian pianist Vladimir Feltsman, playing a program centered on Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (March 26, 8 pm) in the Music Center at Strathmore.