Santander 50th Anniversary Gala and a sad but joyous farewell for Paloma O’Shea

50th Anniversary Gala of the Santander International Piano Competition and a sad but joyous farewell for Paloma O’Shea the Founding President.

The distinguished critic Bryce Morrison with Paloma O’Shea

Barry Douglas ,the elder statesman winner many years ago,gave a sterling performance of the Appassionata.The complete opposite of another winner,Floristan,who played it yesterday as Rubinstein winner too with quicksilver colour in a voyage of discovery.
Barry’s voyage had arrived at its glorious destination and Floristan is still searching for his Etiopia but both were faithful interpretations seen through a different lense.

Barry Douglas

A magnificent performance of the Brahms Quintet with the present winner the 23 year old Canadian Jaeden Izik Dzurko and the magnificent Casals Quartet.Jaeden an excellent partner to his magnificent colleagues.What a marvel to see Vera Martinez- Mehner rise out of her seat as she and her colleagues watched each other waiting to see what the other would do.Like the Kelemen Quartet with Peter Frankl recently they had moved the standard shape of the quartet to fit this passionate score .First Violin and Viola on the outside with cello under the lid of the piano and what a wonder he was too!Looking so expectedly at the pianist as this young man was too … making of infectious improvisation.The viola waiting to pounce too as the young pianist joined in this wonderful circus act.An act where they were all on the high wire risking all for the sake of the music …….and what music.We certainly needed another interval after that emotionally exhausting journey.

Another interval to cleanse the air and prepare for the solo piano of Jaeden.

The magnificent Cuarteto Casals with Jayden Izik -Dzurko

Top of the class performances of Albeniz El Albaicin and Rachmaninov’s troubling first Sonata.Impeccable performances of extraordinary technical prowess at the service of the music. Performances though that were strangely black and white compared to the kaleidoscopic colours that Floristan could find on a Yamaha piano yesterday.
But then Floristan is quite unique and in many other ways this young man is too .

At only 23 Jaeden gave greatly assured performances .Albeniz was remarkable for the rhythmic insistence of the hypnotically repetitive opening giving way to hauntingly mirrored utterances of beguiling insinuation before bursting into glorious flames of unbridled passion.The Rachmaninov is notoriously difficult to master with an architectural line that must lead the way and not be distracted by the enormous amount of notes that embroider it’s path.It needs a kaleidoscopic palette of colours to distinguish between the actual line and the streams of gold and silver that embroider it.Jaeden’s command of the transcendental difficulties was remarkable as was his sense of architecture but the driving brooding opening and passionate obsessive declarations were absorbed into a clarity of detail that needed to be hidden in mystery like a cauldron of boiling water always present and about to burst
I have only heard one truly successful performance of this and that was from Alexandre Kantarow in a concert streamed live during the pandemic from the Philharmonie de Paris.Martin Garcia Garcia winner of Cleveland came close too in Cremona the other day.He told me that this once very neglected Sonata was now being played by many top pianists at Juilliard in New York these days.We have been over saturated with the second sonata since Horowitz’s staggering performance that he astonished the world with in one of the concerts of his Indian summer .

Jaeden came close and am sure as he matures and suffers more the path will become clearer.
Two encores of Scriabin and I think Medtner had the audience on its feet for this remarkable young virtuoso

Madame O’Shea saluting Marios Papadopoulos with concert manager Lisa Peacock and Pilar Pertusa,general secretary of the Santander Competition


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