The Chopin Competition, ninth day: choice of programs
As the second stage of the competition progresses, I pay more attention to the possible âwhatâ and âwhyâ of program choices. Take 25-year-old Italian pianist Michelle Candotti, for example. Her segment reproduced the content and running order of the first half of her recent Ferrara recital.
Candotti was right to âtestâ these songs, so to speak, before facing a jury that heard and played it all. Experience and balance obviously influenced his ideal tempos and his ability to impart palpable form and ease to the Fantasy in F minor and the Polonaise in F sharp minor. Indeed, she nailed the central mazurka section of the latter with a wonderfully idiomatic effect. Superb readings of the Nocturne in F minor opus 55 n Â° 1 and the obligatory Waltz (the pianist chose E flat major opus 18) completed the ensemble.
Student of the 1980 Chopin Competition gold medalist and 2021 jury member Dang Thai Son, Taipei-based Kai-Min Chang also started his segment with Fantasy in F minor. Her relatively introspective and exploratory reading turned out to be less certain than Candotti’s, although it improved in the later pages. But the pianist’s waltz in F major opus 34 n Â° 3 worried me. And it takes a more carefree spirit to bring out the charming potential of the first and episodic Op 1 C major Rondo than Chang’s relatively literal approach allowed.
Federico Gad Crema was the first candidate of the second stage to combine the two pieces of Op 26 as a Polish option. But why would he have placed these pieces at the end, starting with the Polonaise-Fantasy? It certainly makes more musically sense to do the opposite.
Sticking to the minimum repertoire and the duration requirements of the second stage, Alberto Ferro proposed an exceptionally well constructed and contrasting playlist: first, the cheerful Waltz in E flat, Op 18; this was followed by the epic and complex Ballad in F minor; finally, the Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, a centerpiece through and through. But Ferro’s straightforward and uncluttered interpretations were of less interest, unlike his splendid new album Piano Classics devoted to the entirety of the Evenings of Vienna Schubert / Liszt (which my colleague Patrick Rucker commented on in the September issue of Gramophone).
The five evening competitors caught my attention in their first laps and basically confirmed their strengths. In other words, no surprises. Yasuko Furumi has been consistent and consistent, while Alexander Gadjiev continues to be an explorer and risk taker: it takes courage and nerve to end on a quiet note with Ballad Two. Avery Gagliano’s limpid touch transformed the Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante in something less heroic than what we’ve generally heard over the past few days, although his Nocturne in E major Op 62 No 2 floated and soared. If Gagliano works with pastels, MartÃn GarcÃa GarcÃa applies primary colors. Finally, Eva Gevorgyan skilfully framed the three Valses Op 34 between her expected solid crossings of the Third Ballad and the Polonaise in F sharp minor. From!
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