Photo by Phillip Nangle
The judges (pianists Noriko Ogawa and Ashley Wass for the keyboard finals, Alice Sara Ott for the final) were depicted in a darkened room, lit only by a dubious desk lamp, while they presumably debated the merits of each performance (we heard only sound bites). A potted biography of each participant was shown. But the actual performances were horribly truncated. Who cares whether the lovely Hayley Parkes owns a bread maker? We were assessing her Scarlatti, not her loaves.
The recitals were butchered into short intervals of music (full versions were available online), with added commentary. Attention, producers: a good musician doesn’t need to explain the emotions involved in playing; the point is to communicate from the keyboard! Piano fans rejoiced when keyboard finalist Martin James Bartlett was named the overall winner. Prodigiously talented and grounded with it, 17-year-old Bartlett impressed throughout the series. As Wass observed, Bartlett has a great future ahead of him.
Of course, it is impossible to really know how young talent might develop. My recent article that outlined the top 30 pianists under 30 (May/June, issue 25) caused the proverbial postbag to overflow. Some contributors argued that it was unfair to single out just 30 musicians. Others wrote to advise that promoting young artists in this way was the best thing music journalists could do. One correspondent asked if I would follow up with ‘30 pianists over 30’ who are heading for a second wind. As always, I appreciate your feedback. Please do get in touch – regarding this or other subject matter – via the contact details here.