The 32 competitors chosen for the 2016 Sydney International Piano Competition (SIPCA) have been announced.  Five only of these are women.  There is nobody from France, Germany (though some study there) or the UK. There are 5 each from Korea, Russia and the USA (including two who identify according to another background as well), 4 from China and 3 from Australia.

As I have previously noted, the syllabus for this year’s competition was rejigged in a number of respects. In particular, the concerto list was tweaked to include Bach, Haydn and early Beethoven in the “Eighteenth Century” first round, and some overplayed works (in particular Tchaikovsky 1 and Rachmaninov 3) were purged from the 19th-20th Century round.  A number of enticing (or maybe not-so-, as it turns out) relative obscurities were also included in the latter.

In my previous post, I thought this might lead to a Beethoven-ward drift in the first concerto round.  It’s just as well I didn’t put money on it.  As far as I can see, everybody has stuck with Mozart.  Maybe Beethoven 1 or 2 seemed like too big a burden.  Maybe nobody wanted to be an outlier.

As for the 19th-20th century round, nobody, to my disappointment, has elected to play the Litolff Scherzo/Franck Symphonic Variations double bill.  The only obscurity to attract attention is the Medtner 2, chosen by the single Swedish entrant.  Liszt 2, Chopin 2 and Grieg concerti have each been nominated by one entrant.  Two each have chosen Saint-Saens 2 and Beethoven 4.

Four have chosen Brahms 2.  That’s a big piece, but the overwhelming favourites remain the competition staples: Rachmaninov 2 – 9, and Prokofiev 3 – 11.



2 Responses to “Warhorses”

  1. Estelle Shields Says:

    Yes, it’s the mind-numbing sameness of SIPCA that dismays me. I had hoped that things would be different with generational change, broader repertoire and the promise that competitors will be able to “highlight their strengths and range of interests and offer more variety for listeners”. But last night’s announcement of the finalists dashed that hope. Mainstream and popular repertoire played in the most accepted manner is the way to the finals of SIPCA. As one ABC commentator suggested, Glenn Gould wouldn’t have made it! I would add that Michael Kieren Harvey, who won the Pogorelic in 1993, would not have got past first base on his home turf. Anything a little unusual, as in the works presented by the Swede, or anything presented in an idiosyncratic way, as the Croatian pianist did (“a free spirit” said the other ABC commentator) will put you out of contention. There is a formula to be adhered to: nothing earlier than 1800 except the prescribed concerto and nothing later than 1950 except the compulsory Australian composition and avoiding anything too experimental before then. The works of Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev should make up no less than two thirds of the programme. Another tip: if you have recorded a CD, make sure it is for sale at the front door because it will create a good impression.

    • marcellous Says:

      Estelle, I’ve been thinking about this and I think, on reflection, that the problem about who gets through and who gets eliminated is the convergence effect of a decision by committee – a bit like how politics always tends to the middle. The most mainstream players go forward because they have the widest support in the jury. More idiosyncratic players probably have more scattered support so in a first-past-the-post system (which is I’m sure what it is, one way ore another) they fall by the wayside.

      The problem is exacerbated now that there is no quarter-final round as there previously was.

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