First woman in 45 years wins Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw
25 October 2010
Russian Yulianna Avdeeva, aged 25, is the surprise winner of the 16th International Fryderyck Chopin Competition in Warsaw, which concluded on 21 October.
Avdeeva beat the nine other finalists to become the first female winner to be awarded the first prize since Martha Argerich won in 1965. Her performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto no.1 in E minor on her chosen instrument, a Yamaha CFX concert grand piano, received the vote of the jury, which included Argerich, Nelson Freire, Fou Ts'ong, Bella Davidovich and and Kevin Kenner. She received 30,000 Euros and two dates with the New York Philharmonic.
The jury’s decision proved to be highly controversial. The competition’s website had revealed the Austrian Ingolf Wunder as the audience favourite, and music critics had also voiced their expectation that Wunder to walk away with the top prize. Instead, he shared the second prize with Russian-Lithuanian Lukas Geniušas, 20. Third prize went to 19-year-old Russian Daniil Trifonov; fourth prize to Bulgarian Evgeni Bozhanov, 26, and fifth prize to François Dumont, 25, of France. Sixth prize was not awarded.
Avdeeva studied in Moscow and is currently working as an assistant to a Russian professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Zurich. Special prizes were also given: the Mazurka Prize to Trifonov, the Sonata Prize to Avdeeva, the Concerto Prize and Polonaise-Fantaisie Prize to Wunder and the Polonaise Prize to Geniušas.
Helmut Lachenmann Weekend at the Southbank Centre – 23–24 October 2010
20 October 2010
On 23–24 October London’s Southbank Centre will celebrates the 75th birthday of one of the most visionary musical voices of our time, the German avant-garde composer Helmut Lachenmann. British pianist and composer Rolf Hind, an artist who exists very much at the forefront of contemporary classical music and who has worked closely with many living composers, will perform Ausklang: ‘Music for Piano and Orchestra’ (1985) with the London Sinfonietta, and Got Lost (2008), for soprano and piano, with Sarah Leonard.
Lachenmann’s musical language is primarily concerned with the exploration and re-imagining of sound, and makes huge demands of its performers who must reach for new techniques in order to convey the music. When I spoke to Hind about the event, I asked how he had got to know this composer’s work, which has a reputation for being forbidding.
‘I was a bit scared of it, to be honest’, he admits. ‘But one of my closest friends, David Alberman, used to be in the Arditti Quartet, and they did a lot of Lachenmann, so I got to know the music through him. Then, two or three years ago, the soprano Sarah Leonard asked if I wanted to be involved in a commission of a piece by him, which became Got Lost. Then I met and worked with Lachenmann, and really fell in love with his music. It’s very beautiful, and extremely well-made, as well as challenging – it rinses your ears out!’
Lachenmann, a student of the radically-committed Italian composer Luigi Nono, is an intensely political composer with a reputation for being prickly, but Hind seems to find him a bit of a pussycat. ‘I know him quite well, and I have worked with him a lot on Got Lost. He is a towering man, literally, and he can get angry. But once he trusts you as a performer, he’s very supportive, and gives you loads of time.’
Hind says that in spite of its demands for unconventional playing techniques, Ausklang (‘Sounding Out’) is quite easy on the page: ‘He doesn’t do complex rhythms and that sort of thing. He really enjoys the strange sounds – it’s a sensual pleasure for him. Then there’s the German dialectical, theoretical aspect. Finally there’s a kind of presentation of objects, laid out in a beautiful garden for you to contemplate’.
The composer will talk and perform his own music at the event, and there will be a screening of ...wo ich noch nie war ( ...where I've never been before) – The Composer Helmut Lachenmann.
Benjamin Grosvenor selected for the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme
20 October 2010
The young British pianist and former child prodigy Benjamin Grosvenor has good reason to celebrate his 18th birthday this October after he was one of ten musicians to be selected for the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists (NGA) scheme.
The two-year development programme offers recipients recordings and appearances with BBC orchestras, plus Radio 3 lunchtime concerts from Wigmore Hall and LSO St Luke’s and appearances at UK music festivals – in some cases the Proms. Grosvenor will record a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the BBC SO on 26 October, and has a BBC Radio 3 NGA studio recording session in November, performing Brahms’s Piano Quartet no.3 op.60 with three members of the Elias Quartet, themselves New Generation Artists, for future broadcast on Radio 3.
Grosvenor said being selected for the scheme was ‘a great honour. I’m really looking forward to the opportunities it’s going to present: performing with the BBC orchestras and working with the other young musicians on the scheme.’
The pianist first came to prominence in 2004 when, aged eleven, he won the Keyboard Final at the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. At 13 he debuted at the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall, and since then he has performed internationally as a recitalist, chamber player and concerto soloist, although his concert and recording schedules have been limited to allow him to develop at his own pace and to continue his studies. He recently began his final year at the Royal Academy of Music, taught by Christopher Elton.
Grosvenor has a busy autumn ahead of him. He continues his 18th birthday UK tour, which culminates with a New Year’s concert performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no.2 for the first time, with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by James Judd. He will also make his Belgian debut at BOZAR in Brussels, and on 16 October, his birthday, he will present the first UK performance on the new Yamaha CFX grand piano in Malvern, in a programme of Chopin, Ravel and Gershwin.
Performances and interviews with the NGA artists can be viewed at bbc.co.uk/radio3/nga.
Oxana Shevchenko wins Scottish International Piano Competition
20 October 2010
The young Khazakh pianist who won the International Music Critic Prize at the 2009 Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition has been named the winner of the Scottish International Piano Competition (SIPC), which concluded on 19 September at City Halls, Glasgow.
The 23-year-old returned home with £10,000, the Alexander Stone Memorial Trophy, the Frederic Lamond Gold Medal and a Bluthner grand piano, presented by Herr Bluthner himself, after performing Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto in the finals. As part of her prize she will also record a solo disc with Delphian Records, for release in November.
She said the news of her SIPC victory took time to sink in: ‘Only now, a week after the competition has finished, do I feel that I won. After the final round I felt tired and that my performance had not been good enough; but now that I have returned to Moscow people are congratulating me, and it is wonderful to hear.’
Shevchenko came fourth at the Busoni Piano Competition last year but her playing caught the attention of the press jury, whose panel included IP editor Chloe Cutts, who awarded her the International Music Critic Prize (see report, IP Nov/Dec 2009).
Second prize at the SIPC went to Nadezda Pisareva, 23, from Russia, who trains at the University of Arts in Berlin; placed third was her compatriot Pavel Kolesnikov, 21, a student at the Moscow State Conservatoire.
Shevchenko recently finished recording the competition CD in Glasgow, which features her competition pieces plus works by Shostakovich and Ravel. The contents of her debut recording for Delphian Records are yet to be released, but she hinted at an interest in recording Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Brahms’s Sonata no.1.
Mikhail Pletnev cancels Proms and Edinburgh Festival dates
5 August 2010
Press statement for immediate release regarding Mikhail Pletnev's BBC Proms appearance on 18th August, and Edinburgh Festival on 19th August.
Mikhail Pletnev has decided today (5 August 2010) that he will not be conducting the concerts of the RNO in London on 18 August and in Edinburgh on 19 August in order to have the necessary time to deal with the accusations against him. Andrey Boreyko, a former Member of the RNO Conductor Collegium, will replace him for both UK concerts. In a statement issued by the Russian National Orchestra, Pletnev said: 'I do not wish to overshadow the wonderful music making of the RNO and their tour in the UK with the current accusations surrounding my person. I will not comment on the ongoing investigation, but I hope the matter will be resolved speedily and it will be clear that I am innocent of the accusations against me. I look forward to returning to the UK with my orchestra soon'.