107: Violantor

Violantor (Latin verb) – third-person plural future passive imperative of violō

Today on flaglock: Julian unblushingly spotlights himself for being chef of the day and thinks some more about the Polonaise (specifically an album of the seven big ones, released in October 2013).

Go me! Today’s dinner was all me, me, me, from start to finish. I defrosted the chicken, I washed and skinned and chopped the potatoes, I threw them all in a pan and shoved the whole thing in the oven, all the while making sure to not get chicken juice all over the counter (my skills with the cutting-board aren’t good enough for me to discard this task as trivial). Then I left the vegetables out to defrost, and monitored the baking chicken every now and then. When it was about ready, I shut the oven off and left it to coast on the remaining heat; I threw some oil, salt, and pepper into a pan and fried the last of our frozen vegetables. Then I drew the pan of potatoes and chicken (they smelled good by now) from the oven and rang the dinner gong.

It was … surprisingly delicious. It wasn’t filling enough, though; I realize only now that there was hardly enough stuff to go ’round.

It’s been a few days since I extracted Rafal’s new album of the Chopin Polonaises to my hard disk; I’ve enjoyed one or two playthroughs now, and I’ve been trying to sink myself into the Polonaise-Fantaisie.

What can I say about these pieces and these performances that hasn’t already been covered? They’re a delight. I have found a new love in every single piece (I already have all of them, save the Polonaise-Fantaisie, by different artists) through the gorgeous playing of Rafal Blechacz. The closest I’ve had to a complete set before now is a cobbled-together set of Evgeny Kissin’s Carnegie Hall Chopin recital and his program at the Verbier Festival 2010. I like what Kissin does (a pity that I really dislike the recorded sound from the Verbier); I grew up on his Carnegie Hall recital, and I’ve become kind of well-acquainted with his playing. And yet what Rafal does is just – maybe better?

For once I am not convinced of the absolute artistry (and if I were, I would rightly deserve ridicule for being a close-minded fanatic), but I know that there’s something there. I very much like what I hear; the only thing I could possibly take exception to is the rendition of the op. 53. I already have Blechacz’s two previous iterations of the piece, on his debut album for CD Accord and on his segment of the competition chronicle from the Chopin Competition XV. Things get faster and faster until present-day, as Blechacz takes the studio recording version of the op. 53 at a brisk clip. I am not really that fond of this, but time will probably enlighten me to the reasons Rafal might have had for jogging along.

Other than that minuscule complaint, I can do nothing  but sing praises for this particular album. These are real dances for the piano, the kind that gets you up moving around. The playing is dynamic, rhythmic, motor-infused … I don’t even know any more. It’s good. It’s wonderful. I love it. I drool in anticipation of his next album, which, if memory serves, is neither oriented at Chopin nor other Polish music. (And the concerto album that presumably follows, I haven’t a clue! I’m hoping for something esoteric.)



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