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George Fu played Ravel's Le gibet in the semi-final.

George Fu played Ravel’s Le Gibet in the semi-final.

Six battle through to reach piano finals

It was cold outside but plenty of heat was being generated in the auditorium of the White Rock Theatre by the semi-finalists in the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition. HOT correspondent Heidi de Winter watched and listened, drinking in the atmosphere and the music, as the remaining 11 contestants were whittled down to six. Photos by Bob Mazzer.

The semi-final recital stage of the HIPCC took place on Wednesday 28th as 11 successful candidates, winnowed down from the original 36, had an opportunity to wow us with their flair and individuality.

Their chosen recital programmes tested their skill in composing a musically coherent playlist, given that they also had to include a compulsory composer. The majority opted for Haydn as their overture, with a smattering of Beethoven, Scarlatti and Mozart.

The theatre stage had fresh flowers and the Yamaha piano was sensitively amplified for the occasion.

Fanya Lin made it to the finals on the basis of her rendiytion of

Fanya Lin made it to the finals on the basis of her rendition of Barber’s Op 26.

Roman Kosyakov and Fanya Lin both chose the Barner Opus 26, so we heard it played consecutively, once by a muscular Russian man and then by an ethereal Taiwanese woman whose ruffled dress made her resemble a delicate black swan.

Kosyakov would win a tug-of-war between them with one hand tied behind his back but Lin can create a fortissimo just as effectively as he can. In the previous round, playing Rachmaninov, it appeared as though a tornado had touched down through her body and lifted her, feathers fluttering, from the piano stool as she weighed into the keys.

We heard the usual showstoppers – Ravel’s fiendish La Valse, some more finger-defying Prokofiev, several evocative Debussy stories and a personal favorite of mine, Le Gibet by Ravel. I first heard this piece in the haunting film The Hunger, where an impossibly beautiful Catherine Deneuve plays a classy vampire and the repeated octave peals of the swinging gibbet signal the tragedy of her immortality. It’s a wonderful film and what a joy to hear the music live in the White Rock Theatre, rendered by George Fu.

Thanks are also due to Jean-Michel Kim who played the only Chopin of the day – a lyrical polonaise after all the discordant Prokofiev.

There was a sizeable audience in the theatre. Kosyakov elicited a spontaneous eruption of applause after playing the Rachmaninov Sonata No 1. Pianists playing music by composers from their native countries are always appealing. Joon Yoon is developing an attractive hint of swagger when he takes the stage, but we have seen the last of him for now.

The six finalists are: Gen Li, who will play Prokofiev in the final, Kyoungsun Park (Beethoven), Rixiang Huang (Liszt), Su Yeon Kim (Rachmaninov), Roman Kosyakov (Tchaikovsky) and Fanya Lin (Prokofiev).


The finals take place at White Rock Theatre on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 March starting at 7pm. Tickets – £26 or £16 for either night, or £42 for both (booking fee included) – are available through the White Rock Theatre website, by phone from the theatre booking office (01424 462288) or on the door, if still available.

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Posted 18:31 Thursday, Mar 1, 2018 In: Music & Sound

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