International Piano is a unique bi-monthly publication written for and loved by pianists and discerning fans of piano music all over the world.

Each bi-monthly issue includes interviews with top pianists and rising talent, performance tips, news, features, analysis and comment. You will find exclusive tutorials by concert artists, in-depth articles on piano recordings and repertoire, masterclasses on piano technique, and festival, concert and competition reports from around the globe.

Every edition includes a five-page Symposium, hosted by Jeremy Siepmann, which brings together leading experts and international pianists for a round-table debate.

Our comprehensive reviews section examines the latest recordings, books, DVDs, sheet music and concerts.

Plus, each issue includes free sheet music – often rare or newly released works – for readers to add to their collections.

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Competition calls for an apology as ex-jury member Pascal Rogé claims results were rigged

6 October 2014

Rina Sala Gallo Association has called for Pascal Rogé to issue an apology after he abandoned his duties as jury member at the international piano competition in Monza. The French pianist resigned after the semi final, and subsequently accused the Italian jury members of rigging the results.

Rogé wrote on Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc blog: ‘It’s purely mathematic: you put three Italian jury members plus two more “very strongly Italian influenced” and then you have a “majority” that can manipulate the results to their whims.’ Rogé believed that the two best candidates were the Korean and Japanese candidates, who he claims were ‘far above’ the rest of the pianists.

Rogé called for more transparency within the voting system, suggesting that voting online via iPad did not provide enough information on the way the points were added or calculated. ‘You just have to trust “Il Signore Presidente” who “juggle” with his computer, hidden in a corner and then comes to you with a big smile “here is the result”…take it or leave it!’ opined Rogé. The jury comprised of Riccardo Risaliti (Italy, president of the jury); Vovka Ashkenazy (Iceland-Russia); Jeffrey Biegel (USA); Nora Doallo (Argentina); Roberto Prosseda (Italy); Pascal Rogé (France); Graham Scott (UK). Prosseda responded with a statement that can be read in full here.

Rogé said he was willing to bet ‘two magnums of Chianti’ that the top three prizewinners would be the Italian participants and concluded: ‘Does the word “Mafia” ring a bell?’ Rogé was correct: The Italian pianists Fiorenzo Pascalucci and Federica Bortoluzzi won first and second place respectively, while Japanese pianist Atsuko Kinoshita took third place. However, the results – now available in detail online – show that the marks Rogé awarded are inconsistent with his Slipped Disc statement.
Prosseda, a Mendelssohn expert, pedal piano performer and concert pianist, told IP that the results speak for themselves. ‘In a democratic system the result stems from a combination of different points of view,’ he says. ‘All the marks are published online so everyone can check how we voted.

‘I’m not a professional juror and this was my first time on an international jury at a competition. The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly. Mr Rogé was always on his own and I did not have any contact with him, so for this reason I was quite surprised when I read his statement. How could he know who was voting what?’

Prosseda sent a letter, on behalf of the event organisers, to all competitors before the event to encourage them to ‘think of the jury members as audience members, who are here not just to judge and give scores, but to enjoy great music making, ready to share your enthusiasm and energy.’ He says that it was very disruptive to read Rogé’s disparaging remarks about participants, who were mid-competition. ‘I cannot say if the competitors would have played in a different way, but of course they read Mr Rogé’s words before playing in the final. I am not here to judge any behaviour but the fact is that the rules of the competition were very clear: no juror had to say any comment to anybody about the competitors before the end. It was a strict rule that we obeyed. The jury should be at the service of the music.

‘I was astonished to see how many people on social media were commenting on this without any facts. It just lacks respect; we’re in the European Union, I don’t feel Italian, I am European. It’s stupid to equate Italians with Mafia. Trying to use this to judge other people doesn’t make sense. It’s not a harmonic way to be together.’

An official statement from the Rina Sala Gallo Association comments: ‘In three rounds, 46 in all, [Mr Roge] gave the highest mark 14 times and the lowest mark 21 times. However the official rules of the competition, which every juror received via e-mail, states clearly the elimination of the lowest and highest marks during the first three rounds of the competition. This also appears on the website.

‘As a result, the final outcome, which was based on the averaged combined marks for all three rounds, were entirely opposite to what he wanted and expected. He, thus, in the Third Round, managed to invalidate the votes he gave to Yano Yuta (10.00) and Yejin Noh (10.00), whereas his vote (8.50) for Atsuko Kinoshita, the candidate whose performance of Schubert and Debussy he denigrated on his Facebook page, and made known to all those who had access to it, actually facilitated her admission into the Final. Similarly, his intention to exclude Pascalucci and Bortoluzzi, the Italians he has alleged to have been “favoured” by the “mafia”, by giving them the lowest marks, also produced the diametrically opposite effect.

‘Maestro Rogé opted to turn the tables and promptly left, to discredit the work of his colleagues, who quite to the contrary, acted in accordance with the rules that they had accepted and signed.

‘In light of the above, the Rina Sala Gallo Association requires that Maestro Rogé issue an immediate, and written, apology for failing to fulfill the duties that his position required, i.e. to respect the rules, and for having abandoned the jury – unilaterally terminating the contract he had signed – and divulging false and misleading information, and discrediting the Competition, which will now make a legal claim for damages.’

Claire Jackson

Yamaha education partnership programme gains new recruit

3 October 2014

Pianos in the Park: Leighton Park School joins Yamaha’s partnership programme
Pianos in the Park: Leighton Park School joins Yamaha’s partnership programme

Leighton Park School is the latest institution to join Yamaha’s burgeoning partnership programme, as the piano maker consolidates its position in the education market.

Yamaha’s competitor Steinway has rapidly increased its number of ‘All-Steinway Schools’ – institutions that only use Steinway pianos, from the practice room to the recital hall – in recent years. Currently 160 schools have all-Steinway status. Leighton Park is the ninth school to join Yamaha’s education initiative, which also includes Birmingham Conservatoire, Falmouth University and Goldsmith University.

Leighton Park, a co-educational day and boarding school situated near Reading, is the first educational institution in the UK to purchase one of Yamaha’s flagship concert grand pianos, the CFX. Other keyboards purchased include 17 grands and uprights plus digital and stage pianos, totalling 19 instruments.

Pianist and composer Julian Joseph accompanied Rosemary Scales, Leighton Park’s director of music, to Yamaha’s European HQ in Hamburg in June and helped choose the instruments.

The delivery of the new pianos coincides with the start of Leighton Park’s 125th anniversary celebrations. The school has a strong musical offering and boasts a dedicated concert hall, specialised teaching and a variety of ensembles.

Mozart piano sonata manuscript discovered in Hungary

1 October 2014

The manuscript to Mozart’s Piano Sonata No 11 in A major, K331 has been uncovered in Budapest.

Musicologist Balazs Mikusi rediscovered the autograph in Budapest’s National Szechenyi Library, where the document had lain for many decades. Mozart is not believed to have ever visited Hungary and it is still a mystery how the manuscript wound up in the national library, established in 1802 by Count Ferenc Szechenyi.

The final page of the original manuscript has long been known to Mozart scholars, but no original manuscript of the rest of the piece had ever been seen in modern times. Mikusi, who curates the music collection at the National Szechenyi Library, found a substantive part of the A major piano sonata K331, composed in 1783, whose opening movement is beloved by music fans the world over.

The manuscript was revealed to the public on 26 September. Hungarian pianist and conductor Zoltan Kocsis played the sonata from the autograph at the National Szechenyi Library, performing on a modern-day fortepiano.

The Guardian has issued a plea to the library to make the manuscript available online.

Pianist prepares for Proms premiere with scales, finger exercises – and kung fu

4 September 2014

Andreas Haefliger has revealed that he practised kung fu ahead of his performance of a new concerto by Zhou Long at the Proms.

The centrepiece of Prom 61 on 2 September was the European premiere of Postures for piano and orchestra, written by Zhou Long and performed by Swiss pianist Andreas Haefliger and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, under the guiding hand of conductor Lan Shui. The composer, who was in the audience, wrote in the programme notes that he considers the piano ‘a rhythmic and hammered instrument’ and that Postures ‘reflects the movements of some animal gestures in kung fu’.

In an interview with IP, due to be published early next year, Haefliger revealed that his preparations for performing the work even included studying kung fu. This research enabled him to immerse himself in the rhythmic gestures that are vital to this music, particularly in the first movement, ‘Pianodance’, which uses a form of shaman dance from northeast China.

Postures demands a highly physical performance from the soloist. In the second movement, ‘Pianobells’, the pianist must strike the low strings inside the belly of the instrument, recalling the timbre of Chinese bells. The percussive writing reaches its zenith in the third and final movement, which reflects the Monkey King character of Peking Opera. Haefliger moved easily between the pianistic components to give a convincing performance.

This was one of the most exciting new piano concertos to be showcased in recent years and Long’s writing creatively aligns traditional elements with contemporary colour. After recent accusations that the BBC is editing out new music from Proms on television it is a shame to discover that this work is not slated for broadcast either. Happily, is it available to listen to via iPlayer for the following four weeks.

Apply now for the International German Piano Award

4 September 2014

Misha Namirovski won the prestigious prize earlier this year
Misha Namirovski won the prestigious prize earlier this year

The deadline for applications for the annual International German Piano Award is fast approaching, with the final cut off set for 28 November.

The award is open to pianists of all nationalities and takes place 16-18 April 2015 in Frankfurt. The first prize includes €20,000 plus a concert with Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. There is also an audience prize of €2,000, plus a reward from Montblanc.

This year marks the competition’s fifth anniversary. Pianists are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, see here for more details.

This year’s winner was Misha Namirovski (pictured). Previous laureates include Amir Tebenikhin, Lukas Geniusas and Dmitri Levkovich.

The purpose of the International German Piano Award is to support artists who have an outstanding artistic expression. The association assists with concert schedules, the production of recordings, websites and marketing materials.

German-speaking readers may want to sign up for the organisation’s International Piano Forum newsletter to find out more about the competition and its ancillary events.

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