SIPCA 3 – (Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia)

So, shoot me! I still can’t drag myself to a 9.30 session, and so I only heard another 3 players today in the flesh.

The word at the York Theatre of the Seymour Centre is that the arrival of the North American and European players en masse has changed the picture considerably. The standard is rising.

Daniil Tsvetkov, from Kazakhstan but studying in Moscow and probably ethnically Russian, topped off an impressive bracket with a seemingly-nonchalantly tossed off Chopin – Etude Op.10 No.2 in A minor. He should surely progress on the strength of that alone. The fact that Ran Dank studies with Emmanuel Ax came through particularly, I thought, in the articulation of his Chopin Etude Op 10 No 1. But the wunderkind that everybody was struck by was the 19-year-old Charlie Albright, who in addition to count-them 4 finger-flashing etudes, played a stunning (and I think new to practically everyone) Ricercare and Toccata on a theme from The Old Maid and the Thief by Menotti (of Amahl and the Night Visitors fame).

This time I sat further back in the hall. This gives a clearer sense of proportion, though it did mean that I was subjected to a terrible whistle of hearing-aid feed-back. Mercifully, this could be minimised by cupping my hand behind my right ear or even cocking my head at a judicious if apparently quizzical angle.

More inanely, in the foyer of the Seymour Centre, the same movement from a Brandenburg Concerto is played in an endless loop. How can they stand it? Why don’t they take the opportunity of piping the actual broadcast sound of the program inside?

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