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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:23 am 
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I didn't like most of the concertos ; the orchestra seems out of it. Many mistakes, horrible tempos changes (though to be fair some of the pianists did an amazing job coping with it, adding beats for instance, by replaying a final chord, etc.).
Bozhanov's Rach2 was pretty bad in my uninformed opinion : he really overdoes his fortissimos, bangs on the keys (just the opening of the first movement where he hits the basses like mad is atrocious I thought), and he tries to bring secondary melodic lines when the primary should be calm, serene and emphasized. He lacked delicacy in many parts, just like Tsugi lacked strenght. I haven't witnessed it, but I've read the steinway was as good as dead after he played on it...

I don't understand why they all played that Bates piece, weird Debussy / Gerschwin hybrid with many register changes to sound deep... I find it boring... Especially when there was such a great hammerklavier. Was he a sponsored composer ? Trendy ? Amazing piece of misunderstood (by me) genius ? Free win ?

Overall I didn't really like that competition. The players lacked charisma... I mean, you can't help but go "woah" when you hear, say, Pogorelich at that Chopin competition. There I haven't wow'ed... (though I haven't seen everything yet).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:12 pm 
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If my memory is serving me correctly, Teddy, the reason why so many of the pianists you heard played Bates' "White Lies for Lomax" is that all semifinalists were required to play one of the four winning compositions of an affiliated composing competition. Bates' piece ended up being the favorite of the four, and he got a prize from the Cliburn Foundation for that.

I don't quite understand why Bohzanov started banging away during the finals. I don't remember much of that going on during the prelims and semis. Maybe he got so sleep-deprived that he either went into "default mode" or lost control. :? Don't know.

The pianists in this competition may not have been the best we've ever heard, but hearing so many talented young people at one time has made me wish harder than ever that I had the abilities of the least of them. I guess I've just got to practice harder! :D

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:45 am 
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Of course don't get me wrong they were all great pianist ! Just, you know, classic piano is such a demanding art I guess, only a handful make it to stardom :p

Thanks for the explanation on the Bates affair, I just couldn't fashion why they were playing that...


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:09 am 
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sarah wrote:
If my memory is serving me correctly, Teddy, the reason why so many of the pianists you heard played Bates' "White Lies for Lomax" is that all semifinalists were required to play one of the four winning compositions of an affiliated composing competition. Bates' piece ended up being the favorite of the four, and he got a prize from the Cliburn Foundation for that.

I don't quite understand why Bohzanov started banging away during the finals. I don't remember much of that going on during the prelims and semis. Maybe he got so sleep-deprived that he either went into "default mode" or lost control. :? Don't know.

The pianists in this competition may not have been the best we've ever heard, but hearing so many talented young people at one time has made me wish harder than ever that I had the abilities of the least of them. I guess I've just got to practice harder! :D


Great post, Sarah! I agree. :D

My personal theory is that Conlon's nasty habit of micromanaging the soloists to some degree or other pissed Bozhanov off.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:38 am 
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Yeah I didn't remember Bozhanov banging in the prelims/semis either (Schubert? amazing.) Have you heard the recording of Rachmaninoff himself playing it? In the beginning section that you mentioned, he actually does the same thing that Bozhanov did... I don't like it either though (is that a bad thing? not liking what the composer does with his own piece? :P)

And about the concerti... the orchestra was CLEARLY incompetent. If you watch the documentaries from '05 and before, and then look around at the orch. this year though, there are a LOT of new people, so maybe that's why? Some things were completely disgusting though (coming out of the 1st mvt cadenza in Yeol Eum Son's Prokofiev 2nd, the low brass came in way late and at like... half tempo........ or the jump forward at the beginning of Tsujii's Rach 2...)

Memory did serve you right, Sarah. And I actually liked the Bates piece... in fact, I liked it so much that I bought the score (that and the Hagen suite, which I actually wasn't too thrilled with until Lifits played it. everyone here should check out his whole semifinal recital btw... liszt sonata, hagen suite, and the best prokofiev 7th ever)

As for the pianists this year not having the "wow" factor... maybe it was just because I was actually there, but quite a few of them seemed to have that for me. So much so that I lost count of how many "passed the goosebumps test", and 4 or 5 performances even brought me to tears... Di Wu's Rach 3, and her Miroirs from the prelims, Stephen Beus DEFINITELY had the "wow" factor w/ his barber sonata and spanish rhapsody (prelims), Eduard Kunz did in a different way in his Dvorak Quintet, in which I heard a ton of melodies I didn't even know existed before that he brought out, Zuo Zhang's Fireflies Etude (prelims), Haochen Zhang's Gaspard (finals), I could list more...

The one thing that disappointed me about this year was that we didn't really hear any Hungarian Rhapsodies, or the Reminiscences de Don Juan (sp??) :(

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:47 am 
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Ahah Diminushed2nd, that's funny you mentionning the original recording by Rachmaninov himself ; I happened to watch it a few minutes after I posted here, and I was forced to hear that he too did emphasize the opening basses quite a lot. I must say I don't like it a lot, so I will blame it on the age of the recording and faulty equalizing ! However, I've heard Lugansky say that only Rachmaninov could hold his own in this concerto against the orchestra - or was he talking about the 3rd ? I can't remember, so maybe he intended to have the piano mark the basses by himself ; anyways I much prefer the orchestra doing the ground work on that... And like I said, it was far from the only glaring fault in Bozhanov's concerto (though I admit he played fine and well for the solo parts of the concert).

Yes, the orchestra was horrible in many parts (I mean, if I heard many mistakes in the orchestra with my poor orchestral skills, that must mean something !). I guess such a competition is tiring, not only for the pianists, but also for the accompaniment. I wish they could find some kind of solution, because I find the concerto, which indubitably weighted HEAVILY in the final verdict, were somewhat meaningless because of those mistakes.

Regarding the "wow" factor, I'll admit it was probably due to the repertoire ; I've heard the concertos so much lately they don't do me much, and most of the other works (except the hammerklavier) I never appreciated much anyway (impressionism...) - but I must have missed that Prokoviev 7th (though I'm quite picky on that one, after the second it must be my favorite sonata by him) since I mostly listened to the concertos (bad idea uh...). Sure I've also heard voices I didn't know were there, but that's not what makes a good performance I think ; it's the way they help construct the piece that matter. Many piece have secondary lines you hardly hear, some that really are beautiful and make you warm and fuzzy inside when you discover them (really !) ; but bringing them out detracts from the overall meaning. Bozhanov rach2 to me was really a fitting example of that ; sure he did many weird and novel things, but it just messed with the calm beauty of the overall melody.
I'd never ever play that Bates piece... I might have heard it five or six times, each I dozed off in the middle of the piece thinking about how I'd rather play some Rach myself (still it sounded like an impressionist work to me, so I must be to blame again...).


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:25 pm 
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I agree with everything on Bozhanov, and with the strange things he did. The artist must always ask not if the idea is just "new and exciting", but whether or not it will also work well. Anything can be done, but not everything is effective. I found Bozhanov's ideas in the rach 2 definitely not effective, but I really enjoyed Kunz's ideas in the Dvorak quintet (which sadly isn't archived :( )

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:38 pm 
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diminished2nd wrote:
And about the concerti... the orchestra was CLEARLY incompetent. If you watch the documentaries from '05 and before, and then look around at the orch. this year though, there are a LOT of new people, so maybe that's why? Some things were completely disgusting though (coming out of the 1st mvt cadenza in Yeol Eum Son's Prokofiev 2nd, the low brass came in way late and at like... half tempo........ or the jump forward at the beginning of Tsujii's Rach 2...)


Yeah, something was amiss with the orchestra for sure. That's a good observation about there being so many new members. I respect Conlon a lot as a conductor (having done some conducting myself - on a much, much smaller scale!); he is definitely amazing at what he does, but one can only do so much with a struggling ensemble. For the orchestra to learn a gazillion concerti accompaniments on split-second notice with brand-new folks who aren't used to the system is something like a death sentence, I feel sure. And, just so you know, the FWSO has had problems in the past with high turnover rates and quibbling orchestra members. Or so I hear. :wink:

diminished2nd wrote:
Memory did serve you right, Sarah. And I actually liked the Bates piece... in fact, I liked it so much that I bought the score (that and the Hagen suite, which I actually wasn't too thrilled with until Lifits played it. everyone here should check out his whole semifinal recital btw... liszt sonata, hagen suite, and the best prokofiev 7th ever)


If you ever record the Bates, do post it! That would be fun. :D And I'll have to listen to Lifits' semis performance - I missed that. Only heard his prelims.

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:39 pm 
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diminished2nd wrote:
I agree with everything on Bozhanov, and with the strange things he did. The artist must always ask not if the idea is just "new and exciting", but whether or not it will also work well. Anything can be done, but not everything is effective. I found Bozhanov's ideas in the rach 2 definitely not effective, but I really enjoyed Kunz's ideas in the Dvorak quintet (which sadly isn't archived :( )


It wasn't archived? What's wrong with them? :shock:

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:15 am 
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I know right? there are only 6 quintets archived I think, but they aren't the 6 finalists (andrea lam's is one of them... which I'm happy about! :D) so it's really random

IF I ever learn the Bates, it's gonna be a looooong time from now. The score looks like.. *paint splatter*. :P It really seems extremely complicated to _learn_ because of the rhythms. If I do though, I'm totally snapping my fingers at the end like Eduard did :D

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:20 pm 
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diminished2nd wrote:
I know right? there are only 6 quintets archived I think, but they aren't the 6 finalists (andrea lam's is one of them... which I'm happy about! :D) so it's really random


Oh, that's different. I was under the impression that everything was going to be archived. So much for that! :roll:

diminished2nd wrote:
IF I ever learn the Bates, it's gonna be a looooong time from now. The score looks like.. *paint splatter*. :P It really seems extremely complicated to _learn_ because of the rhythms. If I do though, I'm totally snapping my fingers at the end like Eduard did :D


:lol: :lol: I heartily believe you. I really like the "snapping fingers" business, though! :D

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:20 pm 
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I can't remember if this has been said yet or not, and don't feel like going back to see, but...

EVERYONE should listen to Bozhanov's Schubert sonata D. 960. He played it in the semifinal round, and it starts at around 25:00 into the recital. Or, if you want, you can listen to the whole recital, which was really all great. I love his Beethoven too! But his Schubert is really a must hear for anybody who loves good music :P

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