Our New Winner

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The first of the International Chopin Piano Competition was initiated by pianist and instructor Jerzy Żurawlew, with the influence of the famous Chopin interpreter Aleksander Michałowski. Organized for the eighteenth time this year, the competition is held every five years.

Poster of the first competition held in 1927
Caricatures of 8 pianists who made it to the finals in the first competition. First Lev Oborin in the upper left.

It is possible for me to produce theses that support and oppose the competition culture, but it is not easy for me to come to a conclusion. In its simplest form, we can say that it is a positive attempt for art lovers to recognize talented performers. Because the high-culture public of high taste has more knowledgeable and educated ears for certain branches of art than the lower-culture types.

It is unthinkable that society members, who applaud wildly every pianist they see on stage, can detect the differences in nuance between the performances of the distinguished pianists participating in the competition.

If we take the matter from the other side, Adorno's culture industry We will have to address the concept. Yes, maybe this and similar competitions started with certain ideals and principles, but for the cultural products and producers that entered our lives after 1950, the first prize in the competition could well have been the harbinger of a great album sales.

After being discovered by talent scouts, inflated by the big campaigns of the studios, people form the ideal types of the new addicted middle class.

Theodor W. Adorno, Culture Industry

There may be art lovers who find my statements about “sales” strange, I would like to support this with an important visual. For the previous winner of the competition (2015), South Korean Seong-Jin Cho, the giant producer of the classical music industry Deutsche Grammophon did not miss the opportunity to make a debut album. With a little note on it…

As it seems, those who previously participated in the competition for prestige and prestige have to play the game according to the rules, perhaps still loyal to the same ideals, now in the album and promotion-priority world.

Losing is not a disadvantage for the truly talented because, as Adorno mentioned, popular culture does not always succeed in replacing the imitation with the absolute. 1-year-old Dmitry Shostakovich, who participated in the 20st competition but did not receive an award, Vladimir Ashkenazy, who was second in the 5th competition, or Mitsuko Uchida, who was the second in the 8th competition, supports this argument.

Rafał Blechacz, winner of the 2005th competition held in 15, and Seong-Jin Cho, winner of 2015, have a total of 7 albums. Chopin's weight in albums is 30%.

In the light of this information, it should not be forgotten that the International Chopin Piano Competition does not measure how talented a pianist you are, but how well you interpret Chopin's works.

The talented sit on the jury seats, not on the piano chair:

2nd competition jury: Maurice Ravel, Karol Szymanowski and others
3rd competition jury: Wilhelm Backhaus, Heinrich Neuhaus, Emil von Sauer and others

Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva, the winner of 2010, is one of my favourites. Our new winner, Bruce Xiaoyu Liu, is not a performer to be pushed aside.

For those who want to spot the 'dynamic' differences between the two names, we need a comparable performance. The clearest work that provides this is the composer's Opus Piano Concerto in E-minor, work number 11.

Bruce Xiaoyu for Liu comment Click here | For Yulianna Avdeeva comment Click here

Liu, the first part of the work Allegro maestoso slightly more stable in soft (piano) passages in its execution. He can take this to admirable levels with the trebles of the Fazioli piano. Performing the same part with the Yamaha concert piano, Avdeeva is much more lyrical, singer in the whole rather than dynamics on the basis of passage/measure.

For example, while you can hear the note Mi, which stands alone in the 146th measure but serves as an important 'comma', disperse in the air in Avdeeva's interpretation, it is hard to hear it even in Liu.

Since I have not written a detailed work and commentary review, I will leave the technical analysis here.

The Polish dance, polonaise (PolonaiseIt is quite ironic that no one was awarded in the ) category. It is difficult to say that the contestants fully assimilate Chopin and therefore Poland and their tunes. Chopin means Poland.

It seems that Deutsche Grammophon has found a new album face for itself, both with its physical appearance and its performance. Liu is truly a performer who is pleasant to listen to and far from mechanical performance. It is obvious that their first album will be Chopin works, but the market is also saturated with this composer. Avdeeva's last Bach album proved rather ineffective. For Liu, it would be a disgrace to his talent if the strategy isn't drawn correctly.

I would like to present a wonderful historical interpretation of Chopin Nocturne (Op. 9/2) to art lovers who read the article to the end. The performer is Aleksander Michałowski, the creator of the International Chopin Piano Competition in terms of inspiration and jury in the first competition.

Enjoyable listening.

Note: He is famous for the decorations he made at the 1st minute and 43rd second.

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