For piano lovers, Poland is inevitably associated with the composer Frederic Chopin. The central European country is also the homeland of many legends of the piano such as the late Artur Rubinstein and Krystian Zimerman.
The latest to continue this legacy of exceptional pianists is Rafal Blechacz, the 2005 laureate of the prestigious Chopin Competition. Like his compatriot Zimerman, the 25-year-old has been very active with promoting composers of his homeland, including Karol Maciej Szymanowski (1882-1937).
For his fourth album with Deutsche Grammophon, Blechacz has chosen some unknown jewels of Szymanowski, who left behind some important works for pianists.
Szymanowski was influenced by Chopin and from Polish folk music ― like Chopin he wrote a number of mazurkas for piano.
But it is the rarely played sonata in C minor that Blechacz presents in his latest album, along with works by Debussy.
"There is a lot of expression in Szymanowski's sonata ― beautiful melodies, interesting harmony and wonderful modulation," Blechacz said.
The young pianist also plays some gorgeous pieces by Debussy. The "L'Isle Joyeuse" (Joyous Island) is one of the highlights of the album.
Blechacz's playing is characterized by its elegance, delicacy, and a poetic solemnity that has invited comparison to the legendary pianists of the early 20th century.
Blechacz’s first album for Deutsche Grammophon was a recording of the complete "Chopin Preludes" ― one of Chopin’s most lyrical and best-known piano cycles.
Why we recommend it: The Szymanowski work is a fine masterpiece that is not readily played or recorded. Fans of Chopin sonatas will also enjoy this one.