The winners for this year’s Sydney International Piano Competition were announced tonight.

They were/are:

6. Tanya Gabrielian (“Janet Jackson” in honour of her outfit in an earlier round.)
5. Hao Zhu
4. Mikhail Berestnev
3. Dmitry Onishchenko (our nickname: “The undertaker” – because of his lugubrious and rather deadpan stage presence)
2. Nikolay Khozyainov (“Cherubino” in honour of his youth, his blond curls and his performance of the Liszt Figaro Fantasy which is based on one song addressed to Cherubino and one sung by him)
1. Avan Yu

As an announcement it was a bit of a schemozzle. The revelation of the various special prizes (I went to the afternoon session but was at home listening on the radio for this) was entrusted to Marian Arnold, the ABC’s announcer.

Before that, Warren Thomson, the chairman of the jury, committed a little Freudian slip which gave the game away. Making some preliminary acknowledgements, when intending (I think) to say “able,” he actually said “Avan.”

“Aha!” D and I said to each other.

However, the cat was totally out of the bag with two special prizes: the Paspaley Pearl awards for best female and male players.

The best female player had to be Tania Gabrelian, because she was the only female finalist. Then Avan Yu was announced as the best male competitor.

Hang on! Unless SIPCA has any intersex competitors, doesn’t that tell us who the winner is?

Indeed it did, though the pretence of some suspense was then maintained right up to the moment of the announcement of first and second prizewinners. Logically the outcome even as to second place was clear once we were told who came third.

Nikolay Khozyainov won the “People’s Choice” award.

I only heard half of the Mozart concerti on the radio and a bit of one from the foyer on the second night (I was at Die tote Stadt next door). D and I went to both of the C19 and C20 rounds on Friday and Saturday. If the competition depended only on these concerti (which it doesn’t), then Avan Yu’s Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini was, at least as a percentage realisation of the work in question, head and shoulders above any of the others’.

From what I heard, from those chosen for the finals, I don’t disagree with the first three places. I’m not so sure about the order of 4,5 and 6.

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