Archive pour May, 2011

The finalists

31 May 2011

First night of finals, 7:30 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve (live, sound and image, here). Why not meet the candidats (in their order of performance) in these little clips?

Henry Kramer

Zheeyoung Moon

Beatrice Rana

Lindsay Garritson

Yulia Chaplina

Jong Ho Won

Second day of semifinals

29 May 2011

Results are now in and the jury ruled that it wanted to hear in the finals of the MIMC Henry Kramer (good for us), à Beatrice Rana (of course), Zheeyoung Moon (I liked her), Lindsay Garritson (I missed most of her recital sadly), Yulia Chaplina (Rachmaninoff’s Second should fit her as a glove) and Jong Ho Won (the crowd’s favourite). I am still convinced that two or three semi-finals spots were stolen from better pianists, including from Konstantin Semilakovs from Germany.

Here is my roundup of the very full yesterday. Not easy to stay focused while listening to eight recitals! (more…)


28 May 2011

First of three semi-finals sessions of the MIMC last night, in front of a packed (and very warm!) room.

I was expecting a lot, structure and subtlety wise, from American Henry Kramer, but am saddened to say that his semi-finals recital didn’t live up to the promises of his Haydn and Chopin from the quarter finals. If his Third Scherzo was convincing (I can only salute the clarity of his left hand!), he gave us a Beethoven somewhat dishevelded and a very static Gaspard de la nuit. Pity…

By a somewhat cruel twist of fate, Italian Beatrice Rana was performing two of the same pieces. Her Ravel was remarkably fluid, had width of breath, without never becoming imprecise rhythmically. I would have liked her to phrase her double octaves in Chopin’s Scherzo bigger and for her sound to be always full, but nevertheless her performance was convincing. With her Bartok Suite, she went completely elsewehere, unhabiting every silence with panache and demonstrating mastery of sonic plans. We’ll hear her for sure in the next couple of days.

South-Korean Zheeyoung Moon picked a nearly kamikaze program, with Schumann’s Humoresque, a difficult because fragmented work to hold in front of an audience. Nevertheless, she demonstrated ample phrasing, evident work on the sound, but one could have wished for more variety when similar material was presented. If her Prokofiev Seventh Sonata was certainly well in place, it was missing some of the madness and sardonic quality essential to this work. A big maybe…

Young Canadian Lucas Porter, the wild card here (having joined the ranks days before the beginning of the Competition) has demonstrated a supreme architectural conscience. After having sculpted the voices in his Bach-Petri (Will the transcription choice haunt him in the end?), he just took apart Haydn’s Sonata Hob XVI. 24 and transformed it in a true gem. (What grace in the slow movement! The room was mesmerized.) Like many, he had penned the Liszt Sonata in. A few blunders in the double octaves and sometimes rough sound may prevent us from listening to his Prokofiev Third Concerto in the final round. Despite all this, I have the strong conviction that he is a true musician, coherent, articulate, and taht he possesses a real vision of the works he plays (perhaps because he is a composer as well). A carreer to be followed…

The die is cast…

27 May 2011

… and 12 contestants were devastated not to hear their name called out last night after deliberation of the jury members. The 12 standing, however, were thrilled to learn that they can stay chained to the piano for a few more hours today and tomorrow!

Some were evident choices (Henry Kramer, Beatrice Rana, Zheeyoung Moon, Ziang Huang and Yulia Chaplina), but the jury also had some surprises – some rather pleasant – in store for us. Lucas Porter (he turned 20 last week and is already a saluted composer as well!) and Tina Chong are the two Canadian to move to the next round.

Starting tonight at 7:30, it’s back to the drawing board for the semi-finalists who now must perform a recital that should tell us a little bit more about their real musical personnality, the quarter-final recital being essentially aimed on versatility – though it already revealed some true artists.

Henry Kramer chose a rather classical program, which includes the develish Gaspard de la nuit by Ravel. Beatrice Rana will have her own take of the work right after him (comparisons are sure to arise in the crowd) but as well the Bartok’s En plein air suite. Zheeyoung Moon will go for Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata while Lucas Porter will tackle Liszt’s monumental Sonata in B minor. A great evening in the making!

You can access the detailed schedule for the day here…

Second day of quarter finals

26 May 2011

I won’t attempt to establish pronostics for this second day of quarter finals since I only heard the contestants who performed in the afternoon (and I didn’t have a friendly spy in the audience last night). My heart wasn’t overwhelmed by passion but I enjoyed recitals by Canadian Tina Chong (her Mozart was rather convincing and her Scarbo brilliant if not transcendant) and Japonese Daiki Kato. (I especially liked his Bartok.) Rumour has it that the Canadian Avan Yu (who played last night) could very well make it to the final three. Was he at the top of his game last night and did the jury see the spark that could light it all up? We’ll know more later tonight, when results are announced.

A few words now about the imposed work, David L. McIntyre’s A Wild Innocence, a very successfull showcase piece, that gives everyone the chance to demonstrate (or not) their ability to go from effervescent to tender in five minutes flat. Having heard the piece in its entirety eight times already, I can say I still enjoy it quite a bit and I’m even considering getting the score!

It has started!

25 May 2011

First day of the quarter final round of the MIMC yesterday and already, in the afternoon, you could feel some kind of effervescence in the audience. I was not able to listen to all candidates because of my teaching schedule, but I had a spy in the hall in the evening, to fill me in on what I missed. It is always difficult to “grade” the first pianists to light up the stage, because it takes a few takes to assess the level of any competition.

Nevertheless, I will keep fond memories of a truly beautiful Chopin from American Henry Kramer, very full, man rather than child, miles away from the evanescence too often associated with the composer. The Italian Beatrice Rana (the youngest competitor in Montreal) showed a true musical personnality. In the evening, Zheeyoung Moon played a somptuous Scriabin’ Second Sonata and I’ve heard rave reviews about Hinnosuke Inugai‘s Beethoven. (I just listened on Youtube to very subtle Jeux d’eau by Ravel.)

The fest continues at 1. Can’t wait!

The making of a winner

24 May 2011

The star-studded jury of the MIMC has heard it all over the years. Nevertheless, there are far from being blasé about this new crop of pianists about to take Montreal by storm.

I interviewed Arnaldo Cohen a few weeks ago about what he was looking for in a candidate. Here are some of his answers.

“It’s always fascinating to find out how the judgement can vary throughout the competition. But in the end, I think there is always a common point and that you will point to one or two candidates only. Maybe I’ll love a piece a candidate played in the first stage and a colleague of mine will prefer something else, but those two candidates will pass to the next round because it’s not the question yet to only vote for one. Sometimes, you will like someone in the first round and then be disappointed and you could be fascinated by someone who raised his level. When you get to the finals, all the candidates are basically unanimous from all the jury members.

Someone who wins the first prize has to be ready for a career. You have to be able to see how he deals with the orchestra, how experienced he can be because you can be a great talent but not be prepared yet because of lack of experience for example to play with an orchestra
The problem of this profession in my view is that you have an appointment with inspiration and you have one chance. You worked for thousands of hours and you play that recital and that’s it.  You have to take everything into consideration, like the emotion state, perhaps the mental state. There are so many things that can go wrong – and that is the brutal part of it.

For me a wrong note is not a wrong note. When you are a professional, you know what can happen and you have to see the different sides and be open to different interpretations.  You have to be generous enough to open your ears and I’m prepared to listen to his views as opposed as my view being the only views and I think this is the fascinating process.”

You can listen to the Competition live online here, starting at 1 p.m. today.

The MIMC starts tomorrow!

23 May 2011

I admit I am more than a little excited that the Montreal International Musical Competition starts tomorrow and I can’t wait to find out the order the pianists will play in. (We’ll know more a little later today.) I especially can’t wait to hide somewhere in the hall and take it all in – or follow some candidates on the Web, schedule preventing – and to breath and live piano for 10 days or so!

Yes, of course, there might be a risk of overdose… but there is also the chance to fall in love with a performance, a work, a personnality… and to exchange points of view with other fans!

I will keep you up to date on an almost daily basis. Three, two, one… piano!

All info is here…

Marianne Fiset is Mimi

20 May 2011

It is tomorrow night that opera lovers will rush to attend the premiere of Puccini’s ever-popular La bohème. Stop looking for a cast filled with Italian sounding patronyms since all singers in this production are Canadian, including the star of it all, Marianne Fiset, winner of the Montreal International Musical Competition in 2007, who takes on her first Mimi at Opéra de Montréal.

Other singers include Antoine Bélanger (Rodolfo), Lara Ciekiewicz (Musetta), Étienne Dupuis (Marcello), Pierre Rancourt (Schaunard) and Alexandre Sylvestre (Colline).

This video was taped in rehearsal.

Yuli Turovsky’s final concert

18 May 2011

It will be an emotionally charged concert for I Musici and Yuli Turovsky, tonight, 7:30, Pollack Hall. Indeed, this will be maestro Turovsky’s last concert as music director of the ensemble he founded 27 years ago, since he must retire for health reasons. Speaking about Maestro Turovsky’s retirement, I Musici musician representative said, “All of I Musici’s musicians observe Yuli Turovsky’s departure with great emotion:  these past years under his leadership remained engraved on our hearts, a precious heritage and an ongoing source of inspiration.”

The chamber orchestra  has announced the appointment of Jean-Marie Zeitouni as its new music director, effective June 1.  He will balance this new role with duties at the Columbus (OH) Symphony, and will lead three concerts in 2011-12 and more in succeeding seasons.

The program features performers of the new generation and works by Ichmouratov, Boccherini and Tchaikovsky.

To listen to I Musici…