Rafal Blechacz has established an international reputation as a winner of piano competitions, and he has repeatedly demonstrated his strengths in the concerto repertoire. Yet several of his recordings for Deutsche Grammophon show him in a more intimate role as a recitalist, playing solo piano music by such masters of the keyboard as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin. For this 2013 release, Blechacz has chosen seven of Chopin's published Polonaises, character pieces based on the traditional Polish dance form that became important statements of national pride. Blechacz undoubtedly pours his own feelings about his native country in these pieces, since the performances are unabashedly passionate and stirring, and the amount of rubato he uses suggests that he plays with intense emotional involvement. This is an openly Romantic style of playing Chopin that, for a time, fell out of favor in the late 20th century, but Blechacz seems to play in his own considered manner, free of trends and expectations, and he shapes these polonaises with a highly personal expression that isn't found in any other interpretations. Some might feel that Blechacz exaggerates effects at times, making the music more extraverted or theatrical than is necessary, but the grand style works for him, and his consistency shows that he has weighed his options carefully and found that the Polonaises especially require the bravura treatment.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|2 Polonaises, Op. 26|
|2 Polonaises, Op. 40|