Since last posting on this topic, I have been to quite a bit of the Sydney International Piano Competition [not Nova Scotia but] Australia. I managed to hear in the flesh all 12 of the semifinalists though not always for both their solo recital and their chamber music performance. Except for Stefano Guarascio I heard all of them in an earlier round even if I did not catch their semifinal recital.
I also listened to some broadcasts but I want to emphasise that broadcasts give a very different impression and fall far short of replicating the experience if you are there in the flesh. You might hear all the notes but you don’t hear the tone, the true volume or, in the chamber music, the true balance. More contentiously and probably less importantly (because one might wonder: why is this relevant?) you are deprived of any visual element. If you are actually there you can also assess the way that the performer holds the attention of the audience. That shared attention is an important part of the live performance experience and also, if you are being evaluative, a kind of double-check on your own response.
The six finalists to play with the orchestra have been announced.
Next Tuesday and Wednesday they will play Mozart concerti. Those will be K 467, 467, 453 and 453, 491 and 467 respectively.
Next Friday night and Saturday afternoon, they will play their nineteenth and twentieth century concerti. This is [correction: was, when first announced - see below] the roster:
That’s rather a lot of Rachmaninov, isn’t it? And it’s not as if the sole Tchaikovsky really breaks the pattern.
I would have preferred to have seen in the final one or both of the two Italians, Guarascio and Giulio Biddau, not just because they were down to play Liszt and Brahms 1 respectively (aside from Gabrielian they were the only semifinalists who did not choose Rachmaninov), but because those choices are a proxy for something more. They are both more interesting pianists (to me, anyway) than at least two of those who have been chosen.
There has been a rejig of the order: Berestnev has been moved to the first program and Khozyainov moved to the second program. This avoids two Rachmaninov 3s on Friday and two Paganini Rhapsodies on Saturday. The same could have been achieved by swapping Berestnev or Yu for Onishchenko – if Yu had gone rather than Berestnev this would have avoided 3 K467s on Tuesday.
This gives an advantage to Khozyainov, particularly in relation to voting for the “People’s Choice” prize, since that voting is by those who are present on the Saturday.
In my opinion it would have been better if things had been left as they were.