The dragons come home to roost
The Axe has fallen and 21 of the 39 competitors are out. I felt that the Jury Chairman, Frank Wibaut, handled it extremely well, and am confident that none of them felt failures as a result of this rather brutal end, particularly when so many of them had come from America and Asia. And of course none of them were failures, writes HOT’s David Pullen.
So, for me, the gratifying thing was that my six favourite players are all in the remaining 18 – but that is the limit of my wisdom, as 11 of the eighteen played Prokofiev, and five of them played the impossible second concerto. Clearly I have a very particular idea about these works which meant that I condemned the majority who tackled them as not powerful and angular enough to do the music justice.
Fortunately I love both works and relished hearing both so often : but it leaves the next stage wide open, because now the pianists have to tackle Mozart and Beethoven. Prodigious finger work (and memory!) are not the main ingredients there, and I shall be fascinated to hear how my top favourites acquit themselves on Monday and Tuesday.
The standard really was high and I’m glad to report that the audience was bigger this year, but still puny given how unique is the opportunity available to people. Apparently the organizers have been in touch with local schools and music centres and offered free entry, and yet no one came! And as another audience member said – how come the many piano teachers around are not bringing or urging their pupils to come along and see what other young people are achieving ? Where are all these aspirational parents and their ambitious children we are always being told about ?Maybe young footballers don’t go along to a profesional game either – but I don’t suppose they are cheap,
whereas this offers a lot for a very little.
Whilst there is still a week to go, I suspect the audience for the final stages will be quite different from those of us who have witnessed Stage 1. But that still leaves two days of Mozart and Beethoven on Monday and Tuesday to drop into for a Fiver session, and everyone from staff, audience, players and jury will give you a warm welcome – we are not a load of Piano fetishists talking about peddling or how to play transitional passages. In fact at 30 or so in the audience we aren’t exactly a load of anything. But we’re having a great time, and are keen to share it with others.
My friend who gallantly offered to accompany me has even asked me to recommend a good recording of the Prokofiev – after God knows how many performances
he’s beginning to really like it! Whereas I found I’d marked down anyone foolish enough to do Rachmaninov, but enjoyed nearly everyone who had a bash at the Tchaikovsky. And I couldn’t cope with the savage cutting of the Brahms 1st or Beethoven’s 5th, but that didn’t worry the jury.
If Hastings Football Team was on the fringes of the Premier League the local press and population would be all over them with support and pride.
Give it just a few more years and people will gasp to hear that the first three days of this International event used to be attended by a handful of locals. Get behind it before it moves elsewhere!
Stage Two Monday 29 February-Tuesday 1 March: Mozart and Beethoven concerti.
Contestants select two concerti from a list of eight, one from each composer. First movement only of each concerto, to be completed with cadenzas.
Morning session 10:00, afternoon session 13:15, evening session 18:00.
Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition: 25 February-5 March at the White Rock Theatre, White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JX.
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