Webcast: 2014 Gilmore Artist Award Winner Rafał Blechacz

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Pianist Rafal Blechacz Pianist Rafal Blechacz (Stephanie F. Black)

The Gilmore Artist Award is given every four years to "an international pianist of any age and nationality following a rigorous and confidential selection process." It comes with $300,000 and is considered one of the preeminent awards in classical music.

This year's winner is the Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz. He performed on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 5:30 pm, as part of a live performance and interview with the Gilmore Artist in The Greene Space.

Unlike many prizes in classical music, the Gilmore Award is handed out not on the basis of a public performance competition but after an anonymous, six-member committee nominates and selects candidates. Pianists of any age and nationality are said to be eligible. Past Gilmore Artists include Leif Ove Andsnes (1998), Piotr Anderszewski (2002), Ingrid Fliter (2006) and Kirill Gerstein (2010).

The event was sold out but you can watch the archived video webcast on this page.


Chopin - Waltz op. 34 no. 2 

Chopin - Polonaise, Op. 40 in A major  

Chopin - Polonaise Op. 40 in C minor  

Beethoven - Largo from the Sonata in D major, op. 10   

Beethoven - Scherzo from the Sonata, op. 2 no. 2    

Mozart - Allegro con spirito from Sonata in D major, K. 311   

Debussy – Claire de Lune, 3rd movement from Suite Bergamasque


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Comments [19]


Congratulations to Mr Blechach! This is so well-deserved. I cannot fathom any Chopin lover not in love with this pianist: not enjoying him would mean that they don't get Chopin. Love Paderewski, himself a composer, which makes him that much more intriguing, though obviously less accessible due to the limited availability of his recordings, or a lesser-known virtuoso who met, auditioned for and obtained advise from Paderewski, Wladyslaw Kedra (coincidentally, John Perry, who had the chance to study under Kedra in Vienna on a Fulbright scholarship was one of the jurors of the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, unanimously won by Blechacz). The younger pianists now seem to be approaching Chopin quite differently - that is until Blechacz. Perhaps it's that he, like Chopin and many of his best interpreters have something in common: their being Polish. There must be some internal code, a sensibility, their minds attuned by a shared heritage.

Jan. 22 2014 06:58 PM

I have loved Mr. Blechacz Chopin interpretations from the very first moment I heard him on radio three years ago. His performances moved me so much that I purchased the 3 CD set of recordings including performances from the 2005 Chopin competition. I was truly delighted by much of what I heard, so much so, that I emailed his management team asking them to tell him how moved I was by his work. Thus, I was very happy to hear about Bleichecz' Gilmore award tonight on WQXR and very much enjoyed hearing parts of this concert on my car radio. I am excited that I will be able to stream the recital it in its entirety at my home. Thank you WQXR. As for Bruce, I think your f-bomb might be more suitable for a hip-hop forum and no, Blechacz is neither Rubinstein nor Horowitz, and that is great! If he were like them, we wouldn't need Rafal Bleichecz at all since Rubinstein and Horowitz have already "been here, done that." As Rafal openly discussed in his interview during this radio broadcast, he chose to learn these pieces WITHOUT listening to others' interpretations so that he could develop an interpretation free from influence of his peers or those who came before. I happen to find many of his interpretations to be 'clean,' unique and/or sensitive, and quite beautiful. Since Blechecz won both the Chopin competition in 2005 and this year's Gilmore award I gather that many experts in the field agree. So, although your ears may not be hearing the same, there is no need to berate those who are charmed by his work. Instead I suggest you listen to your Rubinstein and Horowitz recordings and be grateful that there are still young people who are willing to dedicate years of their lives to perfecting the art of serious musical performance for an ever dwindling and ever more critical audience!

Jan. 20 2014 12:46 AM
Wendy Sacks from Brooklyn, NY

This was a marvelously moving concert, which I was lucky enough to attend.

Jan. 19 2014 04:17 PM
Bruce #2 from NJ

1. To Dr. Matt from Ossining: it's probably your Flash player. Check that it's installed and enabled in your browser; if not, get it from adobe.com It's a legit product. Install it, reboot and enable it.

2. I love this show and pianist... surprising to see all the critics who don't realize greatness develops over time. And by the way, can YOU do better?

Jan. 10 2014 08:44 AM

You'd think for $300,000 he'd play the complete Polonaise in A-flat major.

Jan. 09 2014 11:17 PM

Interesting. However anyone that has to have a list of the pieces before deciding to listen to a artist who has been chosen as exceptional is not intested in the skill or ability of the artist, or making a determination for themselves and probably should just by a CD. In fact the video is more than just performance as anyone who took the time to move the slide on the video would know.

Jan. 09 2014 09:11 PM

Why don't you list what pieces he's going to play so I can decide if I want to spend an hour and forty minutes watching this video?!

Jan. 09 2014 06:05 PM
Ruth Slater from New Rochelle

I loved his playing

Jan. 09 2014 05:52 PM
Stanisław, a fellow Pole


Also, thank you for including the "ł" in "Rafał". :)

Jan. 09 2014 05:41 PM

Wonderful performance in The Greene Space! To enhance the program, the guests brought an enlightening prospective to the foundation's process of choosing the award winner. This award takes into account a time frame that demonstrates a young pianist's growth and most importantly, the musician's heart and love of music and personal interpretation of pieces. On New Years Eve, I attended Salute to Vienna with the Strauss Symphony of America. The most disappointing thing was that only the conductor seemed to have been enjoying himself! I love to see the musicians look like they LOVE what they do as Rafał Blechacz displayed.

Jeff Spurgeon and Fred Childs were paired together with a wealth of superb questions to provide the audience, listeners, and viewers with the perspective of the foundation's process and the core of Rafał Blechacz's talents and love of the keyboard. Thank you WQXR!

Jan. 09 2014 06:54 AM
Bruce from chicago

what is the big deal about this pianist? Rubenstein and Horowitz he CERTAINLY isn't. Bully for the Gilmore Foundation for being able to throw around money but in the long run who the f*** cares? He really played nothing substantial and it was not at all memorable. While the Gilmore Foundation SHOULD foster an interest in piano music and its performance awards are not the best means of fostering interest.

Jan. 08 2014 07:50 PM

I am breathless... Can't wait till you perform again in a Concert Hall in NY.
Jest Pan duma naszego narodu! Bravo Rafal!

Jan. 08 2014 07:30 PM
michael from ohio

that programme was terrifically enjoyable. fascinating to learn all the nuances of the very unique judging process. and how affable and articulate rafal is! seemed considerably more relaxed in conversation after the second set. thanks so so much for making this available on the internet. was great to hear from the former recipient kirill (sic?). heard him recently with the detroit symphony and while i cannot recall the concerto he played (rachmaninov?) very much recall how he described afterwards the piano (not having been properly secured) actually rolling as he played!

Jan. 08 2014 07:28 PM
MJ from Summit, NJ

Breathtaking !

Jan. 08 2014 07:16 PM
Guest from Poland

Polish man :)

Jan. 08 2014 07:14 PM
The Truth from LES

Finally we get to hear him playI I never thought that dreadful infomercial for the competition was going to end. Ugh.

Jan. 08 2014 06:49 PM

WOW, sounds great. Where did he get those long and fingers?

Jan. 08 2014 05:53 PM
Dr. Matt LANNA from Ossining, NY

All I get is "blocked plug-in." I'm trying to watch the Gilmore winner. What's wrong?

Jan. 08 2014 05:43 PM


Jan. 08 2014 05:42 PM

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