Sundin Hall at Hamline University in St. Paul was sold out Sunday for the Twin Cities debut of pianist Rafal Blechacz,  who played music of Mozart, Debussy (a glowing rendition of "L'ile Joyeuse"), Szymanowski and -- naturally for this Polish musician -- Chopin.

The wavy-haired 25-year-old, who looks even younger in person, received standing ovations for his fiery, even thunderous playing. The Chopin Society proved again that it can draw some of the biggest keyboard talents in the world to its programs. This time they netted the Gold Medal Winner of the 2005 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. 

 Rafal and his father, Krzysztof, attended High Mass at Holy Cross Church in northeast Minneapolis on Saturday evening. The church still offers weekly Polish masses for its parishioners. At the invitation of Fr. Waldemar Matusiak, the two stayed for supper at the church after the service.

On Sunday at Sundin, after an all-Chopin second half, the pianist offered as his encore a Chopin Nocturne (in C-sharp minor).

Blechacz is under contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and has done three CDs so far on that label, all of which should be available in the U.S.



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