Viva Busoni ..The Final parts 1/2/3 with Interlude

Viva Busoni …alive and well in Bolzano Part one ,two and three – The Final
Bolzano and the final chamber music round of the Busoni competition.
Two Shostakovich Quintets op 57
One clean and literal and the other mysterious and full of colour.
The 18 year old virtuoso Malinin who had astounded everyone with his Hamelin Paganini Liszt study and an amazing physically exciting Prokofiev 6th could not quite find the sound to blend in with his magnificent colleagues in the Shostakovich Quintet op 57.

Giorgi Gigashvili
Giorgi Gigashvili on the other hand,who had not found the sound world of Beethoven op 109, in Shostakovich he was in a world of his own as he had been in Scriabin 9th and Prokofiev 7th Sonatas.
Listening attently to the sounds of the entire ensemble he blended in so perfectly.
Obviously an audience favourite for his simplicity and his infectious “joie de vivre” that he comunicates on and off stage.

Shiori Kuwahara
A red hot Schumann Quintet- almost too hot to handle.
Beauty of sound from Shiori Kuwahara as she had shown in her recitals, was not allowed to blossom with such hard driven committed playing from the otherwise magnificent David Oistrakh String Quartet.
Tempi a little on the fast side did not allow that magic of Schumann to seduce us as it can when time is allowed to stand still for a second longer.

Giovanni Bertolazzi
I look forward to hearing Giovanni Bertolazzi in the Schumann tonight where hopefully his superb musicianship and artistry will slow his colleagues down and reveal the same magic that he had seduced us with in his solo recitals.

Nicolò Cafaro
Also two performances of Franck Quintet from Emanuil Ivanov and Nicolò Cafaro.
What a musical sandwich!
Two fine young musicians in one of the hardest works in the chamber repertoire.

Emanuil Ivanov
Ivanov a well oiled refined musician and Cafaro more dense and passionate with his wonderful stubby Gilels type fingers.
Hats off to Busoni for sharing their great musical values with us.
But with Benedetto Lupo and Till Fellner on the jury how could it be otherwise.
PART 2 – Second of the two chamber music finals ……..and now we await to see who will play in the final with orchestra on Friday.

Emanuil Ivanov
Two Franck Quintets one of Emanuil Ivanov a crystalline clarity that sparkled in the dark depths that Franck depicts.

Nicolò Cafaro
The other of Nicolò Cafaro deeper and rather submerged by youthful emotion.
I was expecting a more refined spacious Schumann Quintet from Giovanni Bertolazzi after his superb solo recitals but again tempi were too fast to allow any real romantic fervour to touch our souls with a superb string quartet that plays everything though as if their life depends on it.
It may suit Shostakovich and Franck but it certainly does not Schumann!

Giovanni Bertolazzi
But this is where experience of playing chamber music sorts the men from the boys.
They are all very fine artists in search of experience of sharing their great gifts with a world that awaits and that will add experience and maturity to their youthful talent.
Fingers crossed for them all!
Rubinstein always said you are as good as your last performance and in fact the three that got through to the finals were those that had more experience of chamber music and gave the best performances.The final three performances will now be:
Giorgi Gigashvili, Prokofiev 3rd Concerto op 26; Shiori Kuwahara ,Rachmaninov 3rd Concerto op 30; Emanuil Ivanov,Saint Saens 2nd Concerto op 22

The distinguished jury
As Alfred Brendel says in the interview in the competition programme about the very first competition in 1949.He came fourth and Walter Klien was not placed at all.
Their hosts told them not to be discouraged as they would eventually become artists too!
The only other winner he was in touch with was Bela Siki the others have never since been heard of!
And so to the Gala Final PART THREE
The final of the Busoni Competition …….the three finalists who were the ones who played best in the chamber music final .

The final three
They were not necessarily the ones that had played the best final recitals though as was painfully obvious from what we heard tonight.
It is a problem that in the last edition was resolved so rightly as time has shown with the great success since of Ivan Krpan.
Tonight we heard three pianist who had played quintets so well but lacked the authority and projection of a solo concerto with orchestra.

Shiori Kuwahara
Shiori Kuwahara played a Rachmaninov 3rd concerto that lacked the rhythmic authority.and projection for one of the great war horses of the piano repertoire.

Giorgi Gigashvili already winner of Vigo Argerich/Freire Competition this year
Giorgi Gigashvili played with great authority and all the technical assurance and projection of the Russian school,but it was in places so grotesque it seemed like a parody of the work that we have known and loved from.the hands of Martha Argerich.
The film”Shine” and David Helfgot come to mind.
Cheered to the rafters he is the competition favourite and a delightful generous much loved companion to his fellow colleagues.

Emanuil Ivanov
Emanuil Ivanov played Saint Saens Concerto n.2 almost apologetically.
The noble aristocratic opening that was Rubinsteins was played as if in a dream with no real projection of sound.
His lightweight technique was better suited to the Scherzo and his trills in the last movement were superb as they had been in the opening of his Brahms Handel Variations.
Weight.and projection were not for him.
As we await the deliberation of the jury these considerations must come to mind.
Should a solo piano competition be decided totally on the chamber music round being the last before the final?

The distinguished jury listening to the final
A reversal of order might be more useful and resolve this dilemma
We were told the jury would be quick but I should think and hope there are some hard serious discussions going on backstage this year.
The special Premio Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli offered by the city of Bolzano for a unanimous winner was not awarded!

Emanuil Ivanov First Prize
First prize Emanuil Ivanov,second and Busoni performance prize Shiori Kuwahara,third and audience prize Giorgi Gigashvili.fourth Giovanni Bertolazzi,fifth and contemporary performance prize Valentin Malinin,sixth Nicolo Cafaro.

Shiori Kuwahara – second prize and Busoni performance prize
Congratulations to them all and above all to Peter Paul Kainreth and his team for the superb organisation.It is important that all these remarkable young musicians have been heard worldwide on the magnificent streaming.
It is the world in the end who will decide as in the case many years ago of Alfred Brendel.
A competition can only offer a picture taken at that moment and offer a showcase for some of the most remarkable young musicians who have dedicated their lives to Art .

Giorgi Gigashvili – third prize and much applauded audience prize
Mention should be made of the superb participation of the Haydn Orchester under their ever attentive and sensitive conductor Arvo Volmer

Giovanni Bertolazzi – fourth prize

Valentin Malinin – fifth prize and contemporary performance prize

Nicolò Cafaro – sixth prize

Noretta and John Leech- founders of the Keyboard Charitable Trust who give a career development prize each competition.Noretta Conci Leech was assistant to Michelangeli for fifteen years and has been to every Busoni Competition since the very first in 1949
As part of the Keyboard Charitable Trust Career Development prize Chloe Jiyeong Mun will play at the Wigmore Hall London on the 27th October and Ivan Krpan will play at the Piano Expo in Cremona on the 29th September in a celebration of the founding fathers of the KCT John and Noretta Leech.

Teatro Comunale Bolzano
Happy 80th Birthday Liu Shikun, 2nd prize Tchaikowsky Competition,Moscow 1958.
Van Cliburn was feted like the Prince he was but Liu Shikun was imprisoned with hard labour for six years during the cultural revolution

Liu Shih Kun with Van Cliburn 30 years on with Peter Paul Kainreth in conversation to the left under  the screen
He has founded over 500 music schools in China and he told his remarkable story in chinese.
Unfortunately the translator was inaudible most of the time.
His presence,though, was very imposing as was his playing of part of the Yellow River concerto.
A great day off to celebrate a remarkable man before the final of of the Busoni Competition now in its 70th year.

Liu Shikun performing at his 80th birthday celebration

Giovanni Bertolazzi – fourth prize winner and recent winner of the Alkan piano competition

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