Stephen Wigler

Nikita Mndoyants wins Cleveland International Piano Competition 2016

8:03, 8th August 2016

The 27-year-old Russian pianist Nikita Mndoyants has won the 2016 Cleveland International Piano Competition, a tightly contested, two-week contest, which began on 24 July with 31 unusually well-qualified candidates.

His performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4 in Severance Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor Bramwell Tovey earned Mndoyants $75,000 plus three years of management services, a New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall on 7 June 2017, and a recording on the Steinway & Sons label.

Leonardo Colafelice, 20, of Italy, who performed Prokofiev’s Concerto No 3, won the second prize of $25,000. In performances of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No 1, Dinara Klinton, 27, of Ukraine won the third prize of $15,000; and Georgy Tchaidze, 28, of Russia won the fourth prize of $10,000.

The Cleveland International Piano Competition (CIPC), which was founded as a biennial event in 1975, is a relative newcomer compared with other international contests such as Warsaw’s Chopin (1927), Brussels’ Queen Elisabeth (1938), Moscow’s Tchaikovsky (1958) and Fort Worth’s Cliburn (1962), but it has recently been growing in importance. Its prize money now matches or surpasses those older competitions and its recent winners – Russia’s Alexander Ghindin (2007), Croatia’s Martina Filjak (2009), Germany’s Alexander Schimpf (2011) and Ukraine’s Stanislav Khristenko (2013) – are now established in promising careers. And with this just-completed 2016 edition, the CIPC begins a new life as a quadrennial event like those in Moscow and Fort Worth.

While the CIPC’s reputation has not yet caught up to its quality – its prizewinners are not, as are those of the Tchaikovsky, Cliburn, Brussels and Fort Worth, assured of several seasons filled with engagements – such success seems imminent. The quality of the pianists is remarkable. At least six of this year’s semi-finalists would not have seemed out of place as the top prizewinners in any of the world’s most prestigious contests. And what differentiated them seemed almost imperceptible. For example, Mndoyants – the son of the well-known Alexander Mndoyants, a top Soviet prizewinner of the 1970s – may have edged out his equally talented rivals simply because his superb, poetic and relaxed Beethoven concerto benefited from experience performing with orchestras that they did not possess. As the most prominent Russian child-prodigy pianist of the post-Kissin era, Mndoyants began playing with some of Eastern Europe’s best orchestras and conductors at least 15 years ago.

And at least three of the semi-finalists – South Korea’s 25-year-old Jong Hai Park (who delivered a stunning Prokofiev Sonata No 7 and Beethoven Eroica Variations), Japan’s 22-year-old Tomoki Sakata (who gave roof-lifting performances of Liszt’s B Minor Sonata and Scriabin’s Sonata No 5) and the United Kingdom’s 19-year-old Yuanfan Yang (whose dazzling Schumann Carnaval and Liszt ‘Vallée d’Obermann’ rivalled those of the young Vladimir Ashkenazy) – were just as deserving as the four finalists.

Cleveland’s better-known and older rivals in other cities had better take cover.

The final concerto round performances of the four finalists with The Cleveland Orchestra will be archived for 90 days at medici.tv, the world’s largest broadcaster of classical music. Please click HERE to watch Georgy Tchaidze and Nikita Mndoyants and HERE to watch Leonardo Colafelice and Dinara Klinton.


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