Debussy / Szymanowski, Sonata, R. Blechacz (DG, 2012)
A Bach partita (no. 3, A minor, BWV 827) sounded quite like the Bach partita Blechacz played in 2010: a mechanical, brash, often clipped Fantasia and Courante, with more velvety, rubato-driven sounds in the Allemande and Sarabande, with some soft and suave voicing and little embellishments added on repeats. It was playing with a lot of facility -- ultra-fast on the last three dances -- that somehow ended up being mostly facile, at times even rushed due to what seemed like nervousness. In a Beethoven sonata (D major, op. 10/3) -- instead of Mozart in 2010 -- Blechacz also went for big contrasts, enjoying dramatic tempos and loud extremes, with a virtuosic edge that felt a lot like competition playing but did not exactly add up to compelling listening, again rushing past important formal moments. After a gloomy slow movement, it was the third movement that pleased most, an easy graceful minuet and especially the dancing left-hand crossings of the trio. The fourth movement, a comedy of Haydnesque fits and starts, was good fun, humorous episodes punctuated by chortles and giggles.
Robert Battey, Pianist Rafal Blechacz at the Kennedy Center (Washington Post, April 29)
Elijah Ho, Rafal Blechacz digs into Chopin — and more (San Francisco Examiner, April 17)
The next not-to-miss event on the WPAS schedule is a concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra on Wednesday (May 1, 8 pm), with new music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and violinist Hilary Hahn, in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The program combines Korngold's sweet violin concerto and Bruckner's seventh symphony.