International Tchaikovsky Competition winners announced
1 July 2015, Moscow, Russia
Dmitry Masleev romps home to victory at this year's Tchaikovsky Competition
Report by Ismene Brown
The 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition's piano category winner – always expected to be the headliner in Moscow – is a 27-year-old East Siberian, Dmitry Masleev, whose slight and boyish looks belie his age and experience. After a Moscow Conservatoire training under Mikhail Petukhov he has been fairly successful on the competition circuit and presently studies in the prestigious Lake Como International Piano Academy, Italy, where one of the faculty, the veteran pianist Dmitry Bashkirov, was one of the Tchaikovsky judges. Masleev’s capable and powerful playing of the Tchaikovsky first and Prokofiev third concertos concluded the final and brought him an ovation from the hall; less expected was his winning of the Round 2 chamber concerto prize for his Mozart No 20 in D minor K466.
The prizes were unusually awarded: no sixth and fifth prize, but a fourth to the unorthodox Frenchman Lucas Debargue, whose instinctive musicianship also captured the Moscow critics’ special award. The second and third prizes were both divided: the ebullient 19-year-old American George Li, a favourite with many, split the silver with another measured Russian, Lukas Geniušas, and a prodigiously virtuosic 16-year-old Russian, Daniel Kharitonov, took bronze alongside his countryman Sergey Redkin.
It has generally been considered a solid, rather than exciting piano section, and its reach worldwide via the Medici TV streaming drew in millions of viewers and heavy social media commentary. Two common strands are that Masleev is somewhat featureless as a musician and Debargue magical. Others have stressed the heavy workload likely to result from the win, and Masleev’s far superior technical reliability and stamina for what lies ahead. Meanwhile Debargue has already been given a Moscow recital in December by the critics, which can be expected to be packed out with his new Russian fans.
Winners of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition
I prize and a gold medal: Dmitry Masleev
II prize and a silver medal: Lucas Geniušas; George Li
III prize and a bronze medal: Sergei Redkin; Daniel Kharitonov
IV prize: Lucas Debargue
V prize: -
VI prize: -
Special prize for the best performance of the concerto with chamber orchestra in the second round: Dmitry Masleev (Russia)
Special prize for the best two competitors of the second round: Ilya Rashkovsky (Russia), Mikhail Turpanov (Russia)
One-handed pianist Nicholas McCarthy signs to Warner Classics
26 June 2015, London
Nicholas McCarthy(Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell)
The one-handed British pianist, Nicholas McCarthy, has been signed to Warner Classics and his first solo album for the label will be released in September 2015.
McCarthy’s signing follows his recent Rhinegold LIVE recital at Conway Hall, where he was talent-spotted by executives from Warner Classics.
McCarthy’s first Warner album, entitled Solo, will feature 17 pieces that run the gamut from Wittgenstein’s arrangement for left hand of Bach/Gounod’s Ave Maria to popular early 20th-century works such as ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (arranged by Frédéric Meinders) and ‘Summertime’ from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (arranged by McCarthy himself).
‘My fan base has always been half core classical and half lighter classical,’ explains McCarthy. ‘I didn't want to alienate anyone by putting longer pieces on my first commercial release, but I hope this album will offer a snapshot of the range of repertoire that exists for left hand. My selection also offers a portrait of me as an artist, including three of my own arrangements.’
The disc’s final track is a new commission by the British composer Nigel Hess – a Nocturne for left hand, written specially for McCarthy: ‘It has a really simple, beautiful theme and I've I love the way Nigel uses harmony. He does some unexpected things that I really like.’
For this recording Nicholas McCarthy selected a Yamaha CFX piano, a revolutionary new concert grand representing the culmination of over 19 years of collaborative research and development with some of the world's greatest musicians. The instrument produces outstanding expressiveness coupled with exceptional tonal presence.
Nicholas McCarthy’s Solo will be released by Warner Classics on 18 September 2015.
Alexander Soares wins ROSL Music Competition
17 June 2015, Katy Wright
Soares performing in Cantabria
Alexander Soares has won the gold medal at the Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) Music Competition 2015, receiving a £15k cash prize.
The pianist performed a programme of d’Anglbert, Boulez and Dutilleux at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 1 June. Gavin Henderson chaired the jury, which was mostly comprised of former ROSL prizewinners.
Soares is currently studying the memorisation of scores by Pierre Boulez for his doctorate under Julian Anderson and Ronan O’Hara at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (with additional support from Daniel Leech Wilkinson at King’s College London).
He won Making Music’s 2014 AYCA scheme, and has also won prizes in the Dudley International Piano Competition, Brant International Competition and Beethoven Society Europe Competition.
Soares said: ‘Winning the Royal Overseas League Gold medal was the most exhilarating experience. It was a delight to compete with so many talented musicians in such a fantastic venue as the Queen Elizabeth Hall, in the highly professional care of the ROSL team. This achievement is a major step forward in my developing a performance career.’
The ROSL is a non-profit Commonwealth private members organisation which promotes international relations through arts and welfare activities. Besides the annual music competition, ROSL offers commonwealth music scholarships which provide young performers with valuable exposure early in their careers.
Steinway to unveil its 600,000th piano in London
16 June 2015, Katy Wright
'The Fibonacci', the 600,000th piano made by Steinway & Sons, will be on show in London from 24 June.
Designed by Frank Pollard, the instrument features the Fibonacci spiral on the veneer and is made entirely from natural Macassar ebony. From design to finish, the Fibonacci took over 6,000 hours over a four-year period to make.
The instrument is a Steinway & Sons Model D, nine foot concert grand, priced at $2.4m. The company will create up to six Model B pianos inspired by the same design.
Darren Marshall, chief marketing officer of Steinway, said: 'The Fibonacci spiral is a representation of perfect proportions and natural beauty. Without a doubt, Frank captured those qualities in this piano, creating a work of art for the eyes and the ears.'
Steinway artist Lang Lang became the first artist to perform on the Fibonacci at Steinway & Sons' showroom in Beverly Hills.
The 100,000th Steinway & Sons piano is part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., while the 300,000th piano is currently in the East Room of the White House.
The Fibonacci will be on display at Steinway & Sons stand at the Masterpiece London art fair.
Barenboim launches new piano
26 May 2015, London, UK
Barenboim-Maene Concert Grand
(Photos: Chris Maene)
Report by Katy Wright
Daniel Barenboim has unveiled a new piano at the Royal Festival Hall, London. The Barenboim-Maene Concert Grand was conceived and commissioned by Barenboim, and built by the Belgian instrument maker Chris Maene with support from Steinway & Sons.
Barenboim explained that the model reconciles the quality of a Steinway with the varied colour registers of 19th-century instruments. The distinguishing features of the instrument are its straight strings, double bridge and horizontal soundboard veins.
The project began after Barenboim played Franz Liszt’s restored grand piano in Siena, and was struck by its transparency and clarity. Barenboim collaborated with Maene, using parts from Steinway, to realise his vision. Only two of the instruments currently exist, with the creation process taking 18 months and approximately 4,000 hours of labour.
Barenboim has already performed publicly on the instrument, having played complete Schubert cycles in Paris and Vienna. He performs the Schubert cycles in London between 27 May and 2 June 2015. Barenboim took pains to emphasise that the new model is not in any way better than any other, but merely an alternative. Barenboim said: ’It’s like falling in love – you want to go everywhere with that person!’
Barenboim will perform a complete cycle of Schubert’s piano sonatas over four concerts at the Southbank centre between 27 May and 2 June. He will perform both Brahms concertos on the instrument at Royal Festival Hall in January 2016.