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 Archives for the Queen Elizabeth Competition

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thepianist
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PostSubject: Archives for the Queen Elizabeth Competition   Sat May 29, 2010 3:28 pm

http://video.cmireb.be/vod#

Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Archives for the Queen Elizabeth Competition   Sun May 30, 2010 4:24 am

I'm watching it!

The sound quality is bringing a smile to my face. The tone of the piano is gorgeous... ah, enough. Why don't we try something out, eh?

I see that both the semi-finalist and final competitions are here. First, I will watch all the semi-finalists and "predict" who will move on to the next round. Then I'll do the same with the finalists. This way I can enjoy the music without the judges' critique written all over it and make my own judgments. It'll take awhile, but all the better! I'll make sure to take detailed notes along the way.

First off, its an intimidating list, with some pianists who have already made a good name for themselves like Claire Huangci and Tae-Hyung Kim. And Christopher Falzone... I saw him play almost a year ago at the Russian Music Competition in San Jose! He won that, and he's moving on to this. Well, good for him. He was spectacular.

I'll start somewhere down the middle:


#6: Sean Kennard (United States)

Piano Concerto No. 24 - Mozart
Partita No. 4 - Bach
Back to the Sound - Fafchamps
Piano Sonata No. 3 - Mozart
Three Movements from Petrouchka - Stravinsky

Kennard takes a very "classic" approach to Mozart, but at the same he does not have the fluidity and lightness one gets from a master like Casadesus. Sure, this is one of the more dramatic of the concerti, but heavy-handedness and an overall clumsy style is not the answer. Subtlety in this case ends in lack of drama, which is extremely evident in the cadenza. In my opinion this is a failed attempt at a great piece.

The Partita by Bach does not fare much better, except for some of the fugal parts, in which Kennard seems to be well in control of Bach's structure and counterpoint. He plays "American Bach", which means treating the piano like a harpsichord, with very even (not so much terraced) dynamics.

The Fafchamps is an interesting piece, and Kennard seems to have fun with it. He seems to enjoy the mysticism of the harmonies very much. The piece itself was quite well-written. Fafchamps is a die-hard admirer of the great Morton Feldman, and his tonal experimentation proves this. In addition, the Mozart Sonata was surprisingly enjoyable. He plays it with sprightly style and a lighter touch than in the Concerto. It is more balanced and less of a struggle.

Being a stereotypical "American" pianist, I expected the Stravinsky to be a marvel, but it wasn't. The Russe lost its brilliance once he began to rush and be nervous. Though American, he lacked the assertiveness of a pianist like Kapell and certainly the control and clarity of Pollini. The Chez was technically superb, but all in all, didn't pull off as the piece of music it was. Overall, Kennard is a decent pianist but I'm afraid he'll not hold up to the quality of the rest of the competitors in the competition.

Rating: C


#7: Da Sol Kim (South Korea)

Piano Concerto No. 20 - Mozart
Piano Sonata No. 21 - Beethoven
Back to the Sound - Fafchamps
Gaspard de la nuit - Ravel

Delectable program, he better make it good! The first thing I notice about Kim's Mozart (besides the mediocre orchestra) is the constant (even obsessive) legato. It's like he's afraid to lift his hand, even once! I'm not sure if this is fitting for Mozart's style, but it certainly is unique. Personally, I find the concerto a bit heavy. The first movement lacks in fluidity and fails to recognize many of the composer's formal relationships. The pianist is sensitive but often too extravagant with his "touch". The cadenza is a bit too bipolar - I'm not sure if Mozart would want it that way. But overall it's not too bad.

The second movement of the concerto is very nice, the far from modest rubato working nicely. Some of his Lang Lang-like facial expressions are painful to watch, but the music is genuinely pretty good. A little too Romantic for Mozart perhaps, which takes away some of the "Mozart factor". And the rondo. It dreadfully lacks the composers classic bite and wit, it's a bit weary at times. I have mixed feelings about this performance overall.

The Waldstein! One of my favorite piano sonatas and his extravagances work much better. Great dynamics make for dynamic listening, though sometimes he gets lost is the "Hymn" parts. It seems like he is not the type of pianist who sees the work as a whole and each note as an individual, but tries to play out the emotion instead. This can end in some awkward tempos, and also a very dull 2nd movement magically leading to the most bipolar third movement I've ever heard. Put it side by side to the steady Gilels and one can't help but laugh. But it's good - especially in the beginning of the prestissimo part, which shines with joy. A little more control in the louder regions would be nice though.

The Fafchamps is excellent too, reminding me of a sprawling mystical object. His playing is atmospheric and for this piece it is effective. He plays the Ligeti-like part just like Aimard would do! There is some uncertainty of dynamics at the end, but what a performance this one is.

The Gaspard is a beautiful piece, and Kim plays it like one. His tone is very fluid and for this he lacks much of the transparency that you get from a pianist like Perlemuter. Anyhow, there's a lot of good energy in the playing, it's just that it's not "on the edge" enough. The same could be said about the Scarbo. The dynamics are absolutely brilliant and the technique is as good as ever - but it would be nice if we can just have a little bit more.

Rating: B


To be continued...
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PostSubject: Re: Archives for the Queen Elizabeth Competition   Mon May 31, 2010 1:26 pm

At another forum, I heard that Kozhukhin is well worth listening to. I'm planning to watch one performer's final every day till I get through them. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Archives for the Queen Elizabeth Competition   Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:08 am

Kozhukhin is magnificent! One of the most individual voices I've heard since the death of the C20th greats for sure! He really knows how to communicate this work - I always knew that Prokofiev's 2nd had great potential!

The way he takes the slower parts in the 4th movement is worth dying for. What fantastic emotion and expression - it is obvious he has so much to say, absolutely mesmerizing. Perfect technique on top of that!

The band here is so much better - Alsop is a fun conductor, she really does some strange things up there. Everyone is so supportive, from the orchestra to the audience to the fans backstage, they're all stunned by this guy's performance. What a moment!

The backstage was very interesting. Got to see what Alsop was like - very amiable like I thought. Some awkward parting words with Kozhukhin ("Good, you understand..."). Um? Because he's Russian? Anyhow, Kozhukhin doesn't seem to care at all, he's exhausted after putting in the performance of his life. There seems to be a young lady backstage too, who greets him first, and they pose for a picture afterwards. His girlfriend perhaps? Who knows...
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PostSubject: Re: Archives for the Queen Elizabeth Competition   Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:40 pm

Yeah, I'm still trying to find time to look at these in... Sad There was an article about Marin Alsop in Listen magazine some time back.

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