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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

Khristenko-Fantasies-CDUkrainian-born pianist Stanislav Khristenko won the most recent Cleveland International Piano Competition in 2013, sealing his victory with a magisterial performance of Brahms’s first concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall.

Khristenko’s new recording on the Steinway & Sons label — a venture launched in October of 2010 — captures him in a different musical mood, but one that still expresses itself partly through the music of Brahms. Fantasies, recorded in February of this year, concludes with the Fantasien, op. 116, a set of capriccios and intermezzos that distill a lifetime of Brahms’s harmonic and rhythmic innovations into seven relatively small works. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Khristenko-at-pianoIt’s one thing to win a major international piano competition by a pleasing a panel of jurors, and quite another to go on to make a successful career by enthralling audiences with your playing. Stanislav Khristenko, who took first place in the Cleveland International Piano Competition in 2013, left no doubt in his Carnegie Hall preview recital on Sunday evening, May 11 in CIM’s Kulas Hall that he has all the right stuff to thrive on the international concert circuit.

On Sunday evening, Khristenko was on a mission. While some pianists serve up little hors d’oeuvres — a few Scarlatti sonatas or some pre-prandial Haydn or Mozart just to get the digestive juices flowing — the Ukrainian-born artist plunged headlong into Béla Bartók’s Sonata before even bothering to fasten his seat belt. Rhythmically incisive and explosive with accents, his opening salvos took hold of the crowd and probably nobody did much breathing until the three-movement work ended in a riotous dance. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

C13 Khristenko-StanislavHas winning the 2013 Cleveland International Piano Competition changed Stanislav Khristenko’s life? “It definitely has,” the 29-year-old Khristenko said en-thusiastically during a recent telephone conversation. “At this point I feel very happy that I am able to do what I always wanted to do — and that is to play concerts.”

On Sunday, May 11 beginning at 8:00 pm in Kulas Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Stanislav Khristenko will perform a recital that includes works by Chopin, Prokofiev, Bartók, Liszt, Zemlinsky and Ernst Krenek.

Khristenko points out that Sunday’s program centers around musical topics that are of interest to him. “One of my thematic interests is fantasies, which is also the title of my new CD. Alexander Zemlinsky’s Fantasies on Poems by Richard Dehmel is considered by many to be the composer’s most imposing piano work. Chopin’s Fantasy in F Minor fits into the fantasy theme as well.” 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

by Mike Telin

Jiayan-StanislavWhile waiting to meet with conductor Stefan Sanderling on Thursday to discuss their Saturday evening concertos with The Cleveland Orchestra, finalists Jiayan Sun (23, China) and Stanislav Khristenko (29, Russia) spoke with ClevelandClassical about their experiences with the Cleveland International Piano Competition until now and about the pieces they chose for their final round performances.

Stanislav earned his artist diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music, while Jiayan did his professional training at the Juilliard School. Like the two finalists we interviewed earlier, Jiayan and Stanislav conversed with each other like friends who hadn’t spoken in a long time. They have some things in common — both live in New York, and both happened to choose the Schumann C Major Fantasie for their semi-final round program (just as our two earlier finalists both chose Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit.) They also agree that CIPC’s policy of allowing every contestant to play two rounds is one of the greatest virtues of this competition, but that waiting to hear from the jury can be nerve-wracking. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Telin speaks with Cleveland International Piano Competition finalist Stanislav Khristenko the day before he plays Brahms’s First Piano Concerto at Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under Stefan Sanderling (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-ButterflyStanislav Khristenko displayed his gentle and expressive side at the opening of Monday afternoon’s session with elegant, characterful playing in Beethoven’s op. 2 sonata. Light, moody and colorful, the sonata was a delight — delicate in the scherzo, impetuous yet graceful in the rondo. His reading of Chopin’s “Torrent” etude (Op. 10/4) was nicely layered; he tossed its ending off with a dismissive musical nod. He ended his set with Montsalvatge’s witty Sonatina para Yvette from 1962, playing the opening toccata moodily, creating an eloquent “beauty and the beast” dialogue in the second movement, and stylishly molding its finale, another toccata, scampery this time, out of which twinkled the surprise of a well-known nursery rhyme (Mozart knew it by its French title). Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway


Friday afternoon’s opening set by 22-year-old Taiwanese pianist Meng-Sheng Shen was a bit puzzling. He gave undue emphasis to the bass line in J.S. Bach’s b-flat Prelude and punched out the subject in the fugue. Ebbs and flows in tempo and inconsistent articulation gave an unsettled quality to Chopin’s A-flat Etude (op. 10/10). In Beethoven’s opus 110 sonata, over-pedaling, exaggerated bass lines and an emphasis on secondary details visited the first two movements. In the finale, Shen held the sustaining pedal through chord changes and seemed not to know what to do with the spate of right hand repeated notes. Though the fugue was nicely voiced, an enormous bass line nearly overpowered everything else at the end.

29-year-old Russian pianist Stanislav Khristenko opened with a weighty account of Bach’s c minor prelude (WTC I). Read the rest of this entry »

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