Pianist Blechacz checks all the artistic boxes in Coral Gables recital

By Inesa Gegprifti

Pianist Rafal Blechacz performed a recital Tuesday night at Coral Gables Congregational Church. Photo: Felix Broede

Pianist Rafal Blechacz performed a recital Tuesday night at Coral Gables Congregational Church. Photo: Felix Broede

Friends of Chamber Music of Miami, in collaboration with the Chopin Foundation of the United States, presented yet another successful program Tuesday evening at Coral Gables Congregational Church.

Rafal Blechacz won the 2005 Chopin Competition at age 20, the first Polish pianist to do so after Krystian Zimerman’s win in 1975. In 2014 he won the prestigious Gilmore Award, an honor given to exceptional pianists (Anderszewksi, Andsnes, Gerstein) at the outset of their careers.

With his retro demeanor, repertoire choice and concentrated attention to detail, Blechacz demonstrated a multifaceted musicianship with wide-ranging fluctuations between introspection and boisterousness.

Music of Mozart opened the program. Blechacz’s reverence for these scores, his eloquence, and sharp articulations contributed to refreshing renditions of two works.

In the Rondo in A minor, K.511, the pianist projected a sense of sophisticated freedom by varying the sequential and imitative materials. He played every note with intent and absolute commitment, showing great control of the instrument, especially manifest in the pearly passages and trills.

The Sonata in A minor, K.310, among the most tempestuous of Mozart’s sonatas, demonstrated Blechacz’s sensitivity in harmonic nuance and exuberance of abrupt dynamic shifts. These qualities were coupled with a clear sense of declamatory phrasing particular to the Classical era.

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in A major, Op. 101, followed the Mozart works. The fragmented gestures of the Presto were followed with beautiful lyrical lines in the main theme of the Allegretto. The Vivace fit its tempo marking as Blechaz placed each motivic entrance with “military” precision. He kept the tension of the dotted rhythms running high, conjured a sense of timelessness in the third movement.

The trills bridging to the final Allegro were bustling with energy towards the first two thematic statements that echoed like the pillars of an ancient, sturdy monument. Besides a few tempo oscillations—intentional perhaps—this demanding movement sustained its driving vigor through the fugal parts and indulged in playfulness in the brief cadential gestures.

Schumann’s Sonata No. 2 led off the second half. The opening is a gallivanting movement, going in and out of motives. Blechacz navigated the Florestan-like nature of this movement with ease and brought out clear voicing amid dense textures. The Andantino evoked a sense of yearning, starkly contrasted with the joyful outbursts of the ensuing Scherzo. In the mercurial Rondo conclusion Blechacz highlighted dynamic extremes, playing emphatically with the bass lines and transitioning to a supple touch in the ethereal episodes.

Chopin’s Mazurkas, Op. 24, showed the Polish pianist in his native repertoire. Each one of the four provided a charming vignette of sound and imagery: contemplative and beautifully voiced; radiant with dance inflections; improvisatory and elegant; and fervent with tasteful rubato.

Blechacz closed the concert with old-school grandeur with Chopin’s A-flat major Polonaise. Technical prowess aside, his performance was direct with sharply attacked rhythms, expansive phrases, and impressively even left-hand octaves. The luxurious Bösendorfer lent itself to the exploration of the lower rich sonorities.

The well-deserved standing ovation was rewarded with a encore of Brahms, a heartfelt Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118.

Friends of Chamber Music of Miami presents pianist Benjamin Grosvenor 4 p.m. April 29 at FIU Wertheim Auditorium. miamichambermusic.org

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Wed Apr 18, 2018
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