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by Daniel Hathaway

CIPC-Four-BowsThe laureates of most international piano competitions vanish into the ether once the medals are bestowed and prizes awarded. Not so with the Cleveland International Piano Competition, whose leadership has sought new ways to keep its prizewinners in the local public eye and ear.

On Saturday afternoon, August 23, CIPC organized a reunion of its four top winners from 2013, one year and two weeks after the final round when they played concertos in Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra. Last year they faced off as competitors, but on Sunday in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art, they paired up collaboratively to play J.S. Bach double keyboard concertos with Apollo’s Fire and, in the second half of the 4:00 pm concert, swapped partners to play two-piano works by Mozart, Milhaud and Rachmaninoff. A gala dinner for patrons followed the performance in the museum’s Atrium. Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hathaway

CIPC-Severance-SteinwayRoger Mastroianni’s photo captured the mood of expectation as the final four pianists in the Cleveland International Piano Competition waited their turns to perform concertos with Stefan Sanderling and The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall on Friday and Saturday evenings — the last stop on the way to the top.

Two of the contestants chose Tchaikovsky’s first concerto, performances which were wisely distributed between the two evenings. François Dumont was up first on Friday, Jiayan Sun first on Saturday, and if cataloging the differences between their interpretations didn’t amount to comparing apples to oranges, it was at least an exercise in distinguishing between McIntoshes and Galas. Both performers brought abundant technique, fine musicianship and a clear game plan to their tasks. Choosing between them was a matter of taste, and a task we were happy to leave to the jury.

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by Guytano Parks

CIPC-Medalists-081013Everything must gel at that one moment…a culmination and balance of mind, heart and soul.” That bit of wisdom was shared by HaeSun Paik of Korea, one of the jurors of the Cleveland International Piano Competition during the Jury Roundtable Festival Conversation on August 5. All twenty-eight of the extremely talented contestants certainly had their moments, but several stood out from the rest and they were recognized and rewarded for their outstanding performances in the 2013 CIPC on Sunday, August 11 during the Awards Ceremony at Severance Hall.

Serving as host for the event was WCLV’s program director Bill O’Connell who welcomed, greeted and thanked all forces involved in making the 2013 CIPC a splendid and exciting success, in addition to remarks by Piano International Association of Northern Ohio president Teresa Good and Pierre van der Westhuizen, Executive Director of CIPC. Generous individuals and foundations provided special cash awards which ranged from $1,500 to $2,500 and presented them to the pianists who were all present except for one. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Telin speaks with Cleveland International Piano Competition finalist François Dumont the day after he played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto at Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under Stefan Sanderling (August 10, 2013).

by Mike Telin

Francois-ArsenyClevelandClassical had the opportunity to interview all four CIPC finalists in pairs on Thursday in Reinberger Chamber Hall at Severance Hall before the final rounds on Friday and Saturday. We talked first with 28-year-old François Dumont from France and 20-year-old Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev from Russia. Though they had never met before coming to Cleveland, they sounded like long-time friends during our wide-ranging conversation that covered such topics as family background, how they decided on careers in music, their concerto choices and experiences during the Cleveland Competition and where they’re headed next. And of course we talked about food — always a prime topic among musicians.

Both pianists encountered music at an early age. “I don’t come from a musical family,” François noted, “but they always loved music and brought me to concerts and there was always a lot of classical music in the house.” Arseny, on the other hand, has some distinguished performers in his family tree. “We always had a lot of recordings in the house so I listened to them since I was two years old and I just loved it,” he told us. “So around four years old my mom started to teach me in a playful way.” Read the rest of this entry »

Francois-ArsenyMike Telin talks with two of the four Cleveland International Piano Competition finalists. François Dumont (28, France) and Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev (20, Russia) will perform Tchaikovsky’s first concerto and Rachmaninoff’s second concerto with Stefan Sanderling and The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall on Friday evening, August 9, 2013.

by Daniel Hathaway

C13 Treutler-AnnikaOn Wednesday, with the moment of decision only hours away, the last four pianists in the semi-final round stepped up to the Hamburg Steinway in Gartner Auditorium to vie for a slot in the final round with The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday and Saturday night.

Annika Treutler (23, Germany) assembled a program of Haydn, Hindemith, Scriabin, Chopin and Liszt for the afternoon’s opening set. Her elegant phrasing, graceful but forceful technique and fine sense of musical line and architecture touched everything she played. Only subtle shadings of color and dynamics differentiated each of Haydn’s f-minor variations from the other. Hindemith’s Suite “1922”, a piece parodying popular dances of the era — which the composer later advised his publisher not to bother to reprint — was far more eventful as Treutler navigated her way through its Marsch, its gloomy, atonal Shimmy, its thick-textured but later sparkling Nachtstück, its waltzy and rhetorical Boston and its uptime Rag, which sported a huge ending. Scriabin’s op. 13 Preludes were by turns rumbling, wistful, ornate and powerful. Treutler played Liszt’s reworkings of Schumann’s songs, Widmung and Frühlingsnacht with grace and agility, and Liszt’s own Hungarian Rhapsody No. 8 with characteristic spirit. The audience enthusiastically applauded after each item in the set. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

CIPC-ButterflyThe final four contestants rolled around for a second hearing on Monday evening, beginning with a clever program devised and played by Cahill Smith, who followed a beautifully shaped reading of Scarlatti’s K. 466 sonata — in which he pointed up important harmonic details — with Sebastian Currier’s 1996 Scarlatti Cadences, a series of dreamy riffs on snippets of the composer’s works. The competition’s ‘first sighting of Chopin’s Winter Wind etude (op. 25/11) was well organized in Smith’s hands but perhaps not as wild as the composer had in mind. The left-hand themes rang out handsomely. In Brahms’s Vier Klavierstücke, op. 11, Smith created stylistically true performances on a Brahmsian scale that would in some cases have benefited from longer melodic lines. One tiny glitch and one more noticeable memory flub were minor blemishes on the surface of a satisfying set. Read the rest of this entry »

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