SIPCA 8 – Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia

On Wednesday night with D to the Seymour Centre for session 2 of the semifinals.

The program was as follows:

Mariangela Vacatello (Recital)
Daniil Tsvetkov (Chamber Music)
Takashi Sato (Recital)
Ran Dank (Chamber Music)

Mariangela Vacatello played Beethoven and Chopin and then Ravel Gaspard de la nuit.  That’s quite a program.  She is very competent and secure.  I especially got into Le Gibet, which is surely one of the longest pedal points in the history of western art music.

The other soloist was Takashi Sato, who played Beethoven and Chopin. 

For the second part of each half, we had the chamber music.  First Tsvetkov with Dimity Hall and Julian Smiles playing the Shostakovich Trio.  This is a great piece.  It must have been a bit odd for Ian Munro, one of the judges, to be sitting up the back and hearing someone else play with those two string players with whom he so frequently plays himself in the Australia Ensemble.

In the second half, Dank played the Brahms Trio Op 8 with Helen Ayres and Timothy Nankervis.  Lx, my former high-school drama teacher was there and had also been there for the afternoon session.  He said that Konstantin Shamray’s version had been boring and he was not relishing a repeat.  Indeed, some audience members near me left before Dank’s turn with a similar justification – that they had “already sat through it once today.”

D said he liked the Brahms more than the Shostakovich because it was more dramatic. This might seem odd because there is a lot which is dramatic in the Shostakovich.  The “x” factor was that Dank got a much higher level of interaction going on with the string players than Tsvektkov managed.  

When you learn chamber music you are always told to look at your fellow players.  You might wonder how necessary that is, especially for the pianist, who can listen and watch the score, but in my experience it really does make a difference – probably because when you just listen you may think you have a rapport, but (all other things being equal) you will actually get a better rapport if you are also looking.   Ran was always making eye contact with the others and they with him and the result was certainly a team effort from them all.  Tsvetkov only rarely did so, and all the dramatic impetus of the performance seemed to come from Smiles and Hall, with Tsvetkov more of a co-operative bystander than a co-participant.

So for me Dank et al’s Brahms was the stand-out of the evening.  Lx said it was much better than Shamray’s effort earlier that day and in his opinion the best chamber music of the day, despite moments where he thought Dank too loud.

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