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Daria Goremykina Russia

Daria Goremykina Russia

First impressions on Day One

Well folks, I certainly felt that I was taking on a challenge agreeing to go to the Piano Competition. Back to back piano concertos, with the orchestra part played on another piano? I thought there were nine in the day – but there were thirteen! – writes HOT’s David Pullen.

Ilya Kondratiev Russia

Ilya Kondratiev Russia

And you know what – I was going to drop some anyway  because it was a nice sunny day and we were being visited by my 9 month old grandson  – but in the end I heard every one, because I discovered you are the ones missing out on the most amazing experience which I was also planning to side step this morning.  Ok all day is a commitment – but for £5 you can attend the 3 hour afternoon session and get six concertos!

And remember  – All these competitors are really good pianists, and they are selecting from a list of classic works many of which you’ll recognise. Sure, some might be a bit of a challenge, but then you might get a slim Russian pianist in a catwalk outfit to look at (I’m reporting , not imagining), or another Russian giving a very good impression of how we imagine Liszt behaved and dressed when he played his concertos.

Zhi Yin China

Zhi Yin China

Now as far as my reactions go I’ll just mention a couple in this blog.

Firstly the two piano thing is not a problem: some works, like the Tchaikowsky, are a real battle between orchestra and piano, and we all know it well, so that is diminished, although you still get the advantage of hearing the piano part when the “orchestra” is playing. But quite a few of the concertos, especially those written by great pianists  like Chopin and Liszt, who wrote very distinctively for the piano but weren’t necessarily great orchestrators, can almost sound better and more integrated with the two pianos; even the Rachmaninov and Prokofiev sounded fine – until sections were cut to get finished in 28 minutes!

Gaspard Tanguay Labrosse Canada

Gaspard Tanguay Labrosse Canada

Secondly hearing the same work twice in the same venue using the same piano can make you realise that you can actually hear a difference even though the music is the same. So it must be the performers that are making this happen, and in the three examples I had today they seemed remarkably distinct. Now I am willing to concede that pianists really can make the same instrument sound different, and that I can hear it !

So all in all a great, and memorable day out. I’m marking my favourites and I’ll tell you my score when the jury decide on Saturday who goes through to Stage 2. I did talk to some of the other audience members, and we agreed to a greater degree than I expected, but I don’t doubt that what excites or disappoints us is not necessarily the same as the Jury’s perspective.

So two more days with thirteen concertos and thirteen young talented pianists – treat yourself and get along for at least one session!

Han Boma China

Han Boma China

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition: 25 February-5 March at the White Rock Theatre, White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JX.

Christian Sandrin Romania

Christian Sandrin Romania

Stage One Thursday 25 – Saturday 27 February: contestants play their chosen concerto from a list. Maximum performance of 28 minutes including all breaks/pauses. Parts selected must include part of every movement and any main cadenza.

Jangho Won South Korea

Jangho Won South Korea

Xue Hongchen China

Xue Hongchen China

Alexandra Gracheva Russia

Alexandra Gracheva Russia

Alan Woo USA

Alan Woo USA

Bo Hao China

Bo Hao China

Yeonmin Park South Korea

Yeonmin Park South Korea

Posted 01:33 Friday, Feb 26, 2016 In: Piano Concerto Competition diary


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