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by Daniel Hathaway
Cleveland, OH — July 30, 2011
We went into this evening’s session eager to hear four pianists build on their achievements in the first round. We came away wondering what on earth had possessed them to attack their repertory so heavy-handedly.
Mr. Shinnosuke Inugai (29, Japan) led off with a promising and energetic A-Flat Prelude and Fugue (WTC I) with good cadential gestures in the prelude and clear counterpoint in the fugue. The two Chopin Scherzos (op. 39 and 54) that followed were curiously muscular rather than humorous and poetic. There were some nice touches (clear textures, poignant middle sections in the second and fine right hand passage work) but erratic tempos and aggressive drives toward climaxes obscured the architecture of the pieces. Atsuhiko Gondai’s Transient Bell (2009) was full of metallic effects and crystalline meanderings in the extreme treble as well as gratuitous piano tricks (too many full keyboard glissandi). Mr. Inugai played it enthusiastically, but the sonic effect was numbing. Read the rest of this entry »
By Daniel Hathaway
Cleveland, OH — July 27, 2011
Mr. Shinnosuke Inugai (29, Japan) immediately seized our attention with a dramatic and highly profiled performance of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata, op. 57. Violent contrasts, explosive gestures and unrelenting — well, passion — marked the first movement and inspired applause from an audience that knew they shouldn’t clap then but wanted to anyway. In the second movement, Mr. Inugai relieved the tension with playful dotted rhythms that sounded almost frivolous after what had gone before. His fleet fingerwork and skillful layering of material brought the finale to a resounding conclusion. Perhaps his reading of Chopin’s Etude in A-flat, op. 10, no. 10 was more articulate than dreamy and poetic, but the Beethoven was still in our ears and the second piece seemed almost unnecessary. Read the rest of this entry »
The winners of the 2009 Cleveland International Piano Competition:
Fourth Prize – Evgeny Brakhman
Third Prize – William Youn
Second Prize – Dmitri Levkovich
First Prize – Martina Filjak
Other prizes will be announced at the ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
Junior Jury Prize - Martina Filjak
Audience Prize – Dmitri Levkovich
Baroque Prize – Hoang Pham
Beethoven Prize – Martina Filjak
Cairns Family American Prize – Sean Chen
Chopin Prize – Soo Yeon Ham
Contemporary Prizes – Evgeny Brakhman and Martina Filjak
Mozart Prize – Evgeny Brakhman
Suppose you have something around half an hour’s time to show yourself off to an audience and jury in the best possible light. Perhaps you really have only five minutes to grab people’s attention at the beginning, then you can spend the rest of your allotment making good on that first impression. How would you organize your time?
So far, there’s been a clear demarcation between contestants who strategically managed their slots (mostly the older pianists) and those who just seemed to be filling the requirements with no particular plan. The first group treated the opportunity as though it were actually a mini-recital; the second as though they were playing for a jury in a conservatory.
Friday, July 31
1:00 pm – Anna Shelest (USA): Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E flat Minor, WTC I: 8, Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58. 1:40 pm – Hoang Pham (Australia): Beethoven’s Sonata in E flat Major, Op. 7, Chopin’s Etude in G flat Major, Op. 10, No. 5 (Black Key), Adès, Darknesse Visible (1992). 2:20 pm – Olga Kozlova (Russia): Schumann’s Fantasie in C Major, Op. 17, Ligeti’s Etude No. 13 (L’escalier du diable). 3:15 pm – Jae Weon Huh (Korea): Scarlatti’s Sonata in F Major, K. 17, Schumann’s Kreisleriana, Op. 16. 3:55 pm– Yekwon Sunwoo (Korea): Ligeti’s Etude No. 10, (Der Zauberlehrling), Brahms’s Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 5. 4:35 pm – Kyoko Soejima (Japan): Bach’s Partita No. 5 in G Major, BWV 829, Vine’s Sonata No. 1 (1990).
7:00 pm – Dmitri Levkovich (Canada): Chopin’s Barcarolle in F sharp Major, Op. 60 Scherzo No. 2 in B flat Minor, Op. 31, Vine’s Sonata No. 1 (1990). 7:40 pm – István Lajkó (Hungary): Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata, Nos. 1-3, 7-10 Etude No. 10, (Der Zauberlehrling) Chopin’s Fantasy in F Minor, Op. 49 Waltz in A flat Major, Op. 42. 8:20 pm – Maria Masycheva (Russia): Haydn’s Sonata in E Major, Hob. XVI: 31, Brahms’s Seven Fantasies, Op. 116. 9:15 pm – Sean Chen (USA): Schumann’s Kreisleriana, Op. 16, Carter’s Caténaires (2006). 9:55 pm – Chun Wang (China): Schumann’s Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17, Messiaen’s Le loriot (Catalogue d’oiseaux, Book I: 2).
Tuesday night’s draw, though determined by lottery, defied randomness and produced an interesting lineup of pianists beginning with one of the two oldest contestants, Dmitri Levkovich (30, Canada), then proceeding down the age ladder (27, 26, 20) to one of the youngest, Chun Wang (19, China). These five are people to keep an eye on during the second round, and each for different reasons.
Levkovich was a semi-finalist in Cleveland’s 2007 contest and he proceeded to completely own his 30 minute slot last night. You could tell that he was both a veteran and a candidate who was dedicated to winning this time around. Every moment of his Scarlatti (Sonatas K. 45 & 17), Beethoven (Sonata in d, op. 31, no. 2) and Chopin (‘Black Key’ Etude in G-flat, op. 10, no. 5) was planned and controlled to the last detail. Impressive.