17th International Chopin Piano Competition finalists announced
17 October 2015, Warsaw, Poland
Chopin at 28 by Eugène Delacroix
The names of the ten finalists in this year’s Chopin Competition have been announced following three days of rounds featuring 20 pianists from 12 countries.
International Piano contributor Stephen Wigler is reporting live from the Competition in Warsaw and offers his prediction of which competitor is likely to emerge as the overall winner:
‘The pianist I would predict as the winner is the 21-year-old Singapore-born American, Kate Liu, a student of Robert McDonald at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia,' says Wigler. 'Her performances of the F minor Ballade, Polonaise-Fantasy, Fantasy in F Minor and Sonata in B Minor impressed me as among the very best throughout the first three rounds. She's a real pianist in every sense of the term – a genuine talent, not something that is manufactured. I love the sincerity of her playing. There is an overall simplicity to what she does, but if you listen carefully you realise how beautifully everything is nuanced.
‘The 17-year-old Chinese–born American, Eric Lu – also a student of McDonald’s at Curtis – is almost as impressive. Lu obviously adores the playing of Grigory Sokolov. His performance of Chopin’s 24 Preludes in the third round much resembled the great Russian’s. Often very slow – his ‘Raindrop’ Prelude, like Sokolov's, lasted nearly seven minutes – and always very intense, what Lu achieved was not merely a carbon copy, but a performance energised by tremendous conviction.
‘Perhaps the greatest virtuoso among the ten finalists is the youngest, the 16-year-old Canadian-born Yike (Tony) Yang, who studies with Julian Martin at the Juilliard School in New York. Certainly, one could not imagine more brilliant performances of the Polonaise in A-flat (‘Heroic’), the Scherzo in C-sharp Minor or the B-flat minor ‘Funeral March’ Sonata. He's probably the most formidably equipped 16-year-old pianist since Evgeny Kissin, though he may have met his match in the F minor Ballade – a work that he threw off with ridiculous ease but which was emotionally light years beyond him. Yang plays Chopin’s E Minor Concerto in the final round, an age-appropriate work for this Wunderkind, and I would hesitate to vote against his chances for First Prize.
‘A personal favorite was the 26-year-old Croatian, Aljoša Jurinić , a student of Eliso Virsaladze, whose B minor Sonata made my hair stand on end.’
In summary, Wigler adds: ‘All but one of the 10 finalists would maker a worthy first-prize winner. The exception is the only Polish pianist, Szymon Nehring, whose over-loud, somewhat vulgar and not always accurate playing makes his presence in the finals a mystery.’
The finals of the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition run from 18 to 20 October 2015. Each of the finalists will play one of the Chopin piano concertos: No 1 in E minor, Op 11, or No 2 in F minor, Op 21. The artists will be accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of the Warsaw Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Jacek Kaspszyk.
- Seong-Jin Cho (South Korea)
- Aljoša Jurinić (Croatia)
- Aimi Kobayashi (Japan)
- Kate Liu (United States)
- Eric Lu (United States)
- Szymon Nehring (Poland)
- Georgijs Osokins (Latvia)
- Charles Richard-Hamelin (Canada)
- Dmitry Shishkin (Russia)
- Yike (Tony) Yang (Canada)
The Chopin Competition was launched in 1927 and takes place every five years in Warsaw. It has helped to discover such talents as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson, Mitsuko Uchida, Krystian Zimerman, Yundi and Daniil Trifonov.
The 17th International Chopin Piano Competition Finals will be streamed live by Medici.tv on 18, 19 and 20 October, together with the Prizewinners’ Concert on 21 October. Watch online at http://chopin2015.medici.tv/en/
Evgeny Kissin: A Timeline
9 October 2015
To celebrate Evgeny Kissin’s birthday, we’ve put together a short timeline highlighting some of the key dates and honours in his illustrious career:
- Kissin was born in Moscow to a Russian Jewish family in 1971
- He began to play by ear at age two
- Aged 6 he started to study at the Gnessin State Musical College for Gifted Children
- Aged 10 he made his debut performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K466 with the Ulyanovsk Symphony Orchestra
- Aged 12 he gave his first recital in Moscow
- In 1984 he performed and recorded both Chopin piano concertos with the Moscow Philharmonic and started to gain international attention
- 1985 saw Kissin’s first appearance outside Russia
- In 1986 he was awarded the Crystal Prize of the Osaka Symphony Hall for Best Performance of the Year
- In 1987 he made his UK debut performing with conductor Valery Gergiev and violinists Maxim Vengerov and Vadim Repin
- In 1988 he performed at a New Year’s Eve concert with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic
- In 1990 he made his first appearance at the BBC Proms and made his Carnegie Hall debut
- In 1991 he opened the Carnegie Hall centennial season and received the Musician of the Year Prize from the Chigiana Academy of Music in Siena
- In 1997 he gave the first ever solo piano recital in the history of the BBC Proms in London
- In 2000 Christopher Nupen released a documentary film entitled ‘Evgeny Kissin: The Gift of Music’ and he was the first concerto soloist to be invited to perform in the opening night of the BBC Proms
- In 2002 he was named Echo Klassik Soloist of the Year
- In 2003 he was awarded the Shostakovich Award
- In 2005 he was awarded an honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music
- In 2006 he won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist for a recording of works by Scriabin, Medtner and Stravinsky
- In 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters from the Hong Kong University
- Earlier this year he received the musician award at the Premio Abbiati awards
- In 2010 he won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance for his recording of Prokofiev’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy with the Philharmonia Orchestra
Kissin is a Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist for the 2015-16 season. The video below shows him in conversation with the hall’s Executive and Artistic Director, Clive Gillinson.
- Evgeny Kissin’s website
- Evgeny Kissin’s concert diary
- The IMG Artists website
- Kissin in conversation with The Guardian, January 2004
Joseph Moog named Gramophone young artist of the year
18 September 2015
Catherine Bott presents Joseph Moog with his awardBenjamin Ealovega
Piotr Anderszewski receives the instrumental recording awardBenjamin Ealovega
New generation of pianists set to benefit from Maria João Pires signature edition Yamaha pianos
17 September 2015, London, UK
Maria João Pires adds her signature to one of the limited edition Yamaha CF4 pianos(Photo: Martin J. Bieling)
Yamaha and Maria João Pires have unveiled a Pan-European initiative to provide scholarships for leading educational establishments across the continent.
The scheme centres on a limited number of 6’3” Yamaha CF4 handcrafted grand pianos that have all been personally selected and signed on the frame by the legendary Portuguese artist. As each of the pianos is sold it will trigger the scholarships for organisations in the European country of sale, aimed at inspiring and supporting the next generation of pianists. Each instrument will also be accompanied by a special certificate of authenticity.
Maria João Pires said: 'Selecting the pianos for this exciting scholarship programme was not an easy task. All the instruments I auditioned had exceptional sound qualities. I was particularly struck by the way the pianos were were able to produce a beautiful sound across the entire tonal and dynamic spectrum from pianissimo to fortissimo.'
Alongside a limited number of dealerships throughout Europe, the piano will be on display in the UK at Yamaha Music London’s historic Piano Hall in Wardour Street, Soho, from 1 October. The instrument is priced at £53,894. For further details call +44 (0)207 432 4400.
Songs My Grandmother Taught Me: Q&A with Artur Pizarro
15 September 2015
Artur Pizarro©Sven Arnstein
A young Artur sits proudly atop his grandmother’s Fiat 850 Sport, pictured outside the family home in Cascais with Campos Coelho and Berta da Nóbrega