Chopin: The Piano Concertos

Rafał Blechacz / Jerzy Semkow / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

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Chopin: The Piano Concertos Review

by James Leonard

The staggeringly accomplished Polish virtuoso Rafal Blechacz has already won top prizes and made plenty of recordings. While the prizes are deserved and the recordings are thrilling, one always got the sense that there was more yet to come, and it may be that getting there is what it's all about. This disc coupling Chopin's two concertos is a natural for Blechacz, since he won the top prizes at Warsaw's Chopin competition, and he has gone on to record many of the Polish composer's works, including his complete preludes. But the concertos are, if not greater, then at least larger and more demanding works than the preludes, and the challenges for the player are commensurately steep. Blechacz delivers powerful but poetic performances, readings that are suitably dramatic in the works' opening movements yet lyrically sensitive in the central slow movements. His agile technique, strong attack, and winning way with phrasing long melodies admirably suits the music, and so does the young virtuoso's temperament: a combination of emotional expressivity and complete command of the keyboard. Luxuriously accompanied by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, ably supported by old hand Jerzy Semkow, and warmly recorded by Deutsche Grammophon, Blechacz's performances show that while he may not yet be a master, he's getting better all the time. Just imagine what he'll be like in 10 or 20 years.

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