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I believe the nature of the competitions like this does not support Sumino as a real contender for first prize. He's neither extraordinary individualist with memorable performances nor performer with this extremely settled and conservative way of playing Chopin that resonates with most of Polish people, and that includes jurors (I really hate the fact, that polish jurors are the biggest group in jury)

Still, I like the way he plays very much, and as a promotor of classical music I would really enjoy his presence in the final.

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Originally Posted by wojtanowsky
playing Chopin that resonates with most of Polish people, and that includes jurors (I really hate the fact, that polish jurors are the biggest group in jury) .

Are you really serious?
Then why not just choose with public vote that ONLY Polish people can vote, instead of forming a so-called “international“ jury?

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I think Sumino is an excellent pianist and certainly a talented young man. However I think he has reached his interpretative and expressive limits in this competition. He is not at the level where one can say he is outstanding. His mazurka had some rythmic issues here and there and generally lack refinement and vivacity. They sound like nice salon romantic pieces (which they are also) and i miss the folk dance character which best pianists can bring forward and which require more precise articulation. That said he can still move to final stage.

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Originally Posted by Hakki
Originally Posted by wojtanowsky
playing Chopin that resonates with most of Polish people, and that includes jurors (I really hate the fact, that polish jurors are the biggest group in jury) .

Are you really serious?
Then why not just choose with public vote that ONLY Polish people can vote, instead of forming a so-called “international“ jury?

You clearly missed my point - I do not claim that this is ok and fair, but support from public is definitely a factor, and you cannot ignore it, and jury also don't ignore it, even though they're are as close to be objective as possible.

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Why not make mazurkas, waltzes and polonaises mandatory too for the preliminary round so that ONLY ones that can play them the Polish way can get to the main competition?

Of course the preliminary jury should be formed by Polish jurors only.

Or better why not make the competition jury all Polish too?

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You look a little bit surprised that this competition, that takes place in Poland, is organized by Polish people, with pieces of one composer, composer that is like a mythical monument for Polish people is somehow bias toward "polish" way of looking at music. This is not a controversial statement and I'm definitely not happy that it looks this way. Believe me, after living here my whole life and being surrounded by people directly involved in this competition I can assure you, that jury is trying to be objective, but they're not, and promoting Polish people, Polish school of teaching Chopin is unfortunately part of this competition. I'd be really glad to see one day, that we're free from this martyrization, but we're not.

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Originally Posted by wojtanowsky
You look a little bit surprised that this competition, that takes place in Poland, is organized by Polish people, with pieces of one composer, composer that is like a mythical monument for Polish people is somehow bias toward "polish" way of looking at music. This is not a controversial statement and I'm definitely not happy that it looks this way. Believe me, after living here my whole life and being surrounded by people directly involved in this competition I can assure you, that jury is trying to be objective, but they're not, and promoting Polish people, Polish school of teaching Chopin is unfortunately part of this competition. I'd be really glad to see one day, that we're free from this martyrization, but we're not.

I think this is an accurate assessment of the competition. It tends to reward more limited interpretations of Chopin as opposed to originality. Even if most of the winners have bold ideas about music, it's usually toned down in this competition because of the conservatism (watch Cho's Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein performances compared to Chopin). I also agree that Sumino probably won't win gold, but has a good shot at the finals, and good for him if he makes it. He and Sorita are the discoveries of this competition for me.

That being said, I can see a finals scenario of 3 Japanese pianists, 3 Polish pianists, Armellini, Gadjiev, Khozyainov, and Hao Rao. Even though it's against the rules, I still hope that they'll amend the bylaws to allow for 2 more.

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I think many of the great pianists in history didn't have extremely original interpretations of whatever composer they played but they just played more beautifully, more persuasively, and with more charisma that other pianists. Couldn't Rubinstein, for example, be considered a very middle of the road interpreter of Chopin who avoided extreme interpretations?

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When looking back in the history of the competition, in the first 5 sessions there was a predominance of soviet union and Poland. Almost every first, second and third prize was won by one of them (soviet union 6 of which 4 first prize and Poland 8 of which 2 first prizes). Only other winner was Fou Tsong from China and one from Hungary. Of course the political situation played a large role in this situation.

Since then after 1960 it is rather open. Of the 12 first prizes, 2 non attributed, 2 Poland, 2 for soviet union / Russia and then 1 for Italy, Argentina, South Korea, US, China and Vietnam. So there is still a predominance of Russia and Poland but it is more open. It is indisputable though that Zimerman and Blechacz were by far the best in the years where they won.

Curiously many countries never won or only rarely, France, Spain, UK, Netherlands, Germany, .......this year i dont think any pianist from Germany even made stage 1.

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Who taught Miyu Shindo to play the piano like it's an all-body gymnastic exercise? Yes, there is a respected school of piano playing that emphasizes weight, allowing the fingers to fall to the keyboard, rather than punching the keys with your fingers to produce a tone. Ms. Shindo can certainly produce wonderful tones, and she knows how to shape a phrase to create musical loveliness. But weight technique is supposed to be the art of letting the arm, wrist and fingers drop effortlessly to the keyboard to create controlled, pleasing sounds. When did it become necessary to employ the upper arm and shoulder into piano playing? Ms. Shindo has both arms floating high in the air, dropping down slowly to the keyboard, and then - after the key is struck - the entire hand balls up into a fist and curls under and away from the keyboard. What possible benefit does this provide the pianist, technically or musically?

Ms. Shindo reminds me of those Olympic figure skaters who add all sorts of superfluous balletic motions to their routine before launching into their next Axel jump. I suspect she envies these athletes, because like them, Ms. Shindo feels her whole body must be in constant motion. Not just her fingers, hands and arms are involved. She is a devotee of the Lang Lang school of emotive facial distortions as a necessary aspect of her piano playing. Her default facial emotion is the grimcace, reminding us either that it is very hard to play what she is playing, or that she is suffering emotional torments from the sheer beauty of her playing.

At least Lang Lang stays put at the piano. Ms. Shindo can't sit still - literally. She is constantly rising from the bench. If she had her way, she'd go full Jerry Lee Lewis and dispense with the bench altogether, but the judges - who put up with a lot of bodily distortions from competitors these days - probably would frown on that as a step too far. Since Ms. Shindo has to stay rooted to some degree to her piano bench, she compensates by bringing her feet into motion. Her left foot isn't there just to operate the una corda pedal; it's designed to hover in the air and move in harmony with the excessive motions of her left hand. Similarly, her right leg spends half of the time managing the dampers, and the other half beating the tempo on the floor. Ms. Shindo has the benefit of hiding a lot of this useless motion under a long skirt, but if you want to see another competitor who has a bad case of pianistic Restless Leg Syndrome, watch Canadian competitor Bruce Liu in action.

I suppose all of these distractions could be overlooked if Ms. Shindo had a meaningful musical message to deliver. A lot of people, after all, close their eyes during a Lang Lang concert to avoid watching his distorted physical movements, and concentrate instead on his musicality. You can't make that argument with Ms. Shindo. With her delicate touch, she is a mistress of the delicious musical phrase. But that's all there is to her piano playing. She presents an incessant stream of lush musical phrases, which all end with an extended ritard, disconnecting each phrase from the next. If you want to hear this in action, listen to her Third Sonata Op. 58 performance - particularly the Largo, where she loses all control of the tempo and drowns poor Chopin in a pool of honeyed sentimentality that lacks any sense of structural coherence.

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From Shindo's page on the competition website:

Quote
Born on 26 April 2002 in Japan. She is studying at the Central Music School in Moscow with Valery Piassetsky.

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Originally Posted by Numerian
Who taught Miyu Shindo to play the piano like it's an all-body gymnastic exercise? Yes, there is a respected school of piano playing that emphasizes weight, allowing the fingers to fall to the keyboard, rather than punching the keys with your fingers to produce a tone. Ms. Shindo can certainly produce wonderful tones, and she knows how to shape a phrase to create musical loveliness. But weight technique is supposed to be the art of letting the arm, wrist and fingers drop effortlessly to the keyboard to create controlled, pleasing sounds. When did it become necessary to employ the upper arm and shoulder into piano playing? Ms. Shindo has both arms floating high in the air, dropping down slowly to the keyboard, and then - after the key is struck - the entire hand balls up into a fist and curls under and away from the keyboard. What possible benefit does this provide the pianist, technically or musically?

Ms. Shindo reminds me of those Olympic figure skaters who add all sorts of superfluous balletic motions to their routine before launching into their next Axel jump. I suspect she envies these athletes, because like them, Ms. Shindo feels her whole body must be in constant motion. Not just her fingers, hands and arms are involved. She is a devotee of the Lang Lang school of emotive facial distortions as a necessary aspect of her piano playing. Her default facial emotion is the grimcace, reminding us either that it is very hard to play what she is playing, or that she is suffering emotional torments from the sheer beauty of her playing.

At least Lang Lang stays put at the piano. Ms. Shindo can't sit still - literally. She is constantly rising from the bench. If she had her way, she'd go full Jerry Lee Lewis and dispense with the bench altogether, but the judges - who put up with a lot of bodily distortions from competitors these days - probably would frown on that as a step too far. Since Ms. Shindo has to stay rooted to some degree to her piano bench, she compensates by bringing her feet into motion. Her left foot isn't there just to operate the una corda pedal; it's designed to hover in the air and move in harmony with the excessive motions of her left hand. Similarly, her right leg spends half of the time managing the dampers, and the other half beating the tempo on the floor. Ms. Shindo has the benefit of hiding a lot of this useless motion under a long skirt, but if you want to see another competitor who has a bad case of pianistic Restless Leg Syndrome, watch Canadian competitor Bruce Liu in action.

I suppose all of these distractions could be overlooked if Ms. Shindo had a meaningful musical message to deliver. A lot of people, after all, close their eyes during a Lang Lang concert to avoid watching his distorted physical movements, and concentrate instead on his musicality. You can't make that argument with Ms. Shindo. With her delicate touch, she is a mistress of the delicious musical phrase. But that's all there is to her piano playing. She presents an incessant stream of lush musical phrases, which all end with an extended ritard, disconnecting each phrase from the next. If you want to hear this in action, listen to her Third Sonata Op. 58 performance - particularly the Largo, where she loses all control of the tempo and drowns poor Chopin in a pool of honeyed sentimentality that lacks any sense of structural coherence.
So...did you like her playing?

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Originally Posted by Numerian
Who taught Miyu Shindo to play the piano like it's an all-body gymnastic exercise? Yes, there is a respected school of piano playing that emphasizes weight, allowing the fingers to fall to the keyboard, rather than punching the keys with your fingers to produce a tone. Ms. Shindo can certainly produce wonderful tones, and she knows how to shape a phrase to create musical loveliness. But weight technique is supposed to be the art of letting the arm, wrist and fingers drop effortlessly to the keyboard to create controlled, pleasing sounds. When did it become necessary to employ the upper arm and shoulder into piano playing? Ms. Shindo has both arms floating high in the air, dropping down slowly to the keyboard, and then - after the key is struck - the entire hand balls up into a fist and curls under and away from the keyboard. What possible benefit does this provide the pianist, technically or musically?

Ms. Shindo reminds me of those Olympic figure skaters who add all sorts of superfluous balletic motions to their routine before launching into their next Axel jump. I suspect she envies these athletes, because like them, Ms. Shindo feels her whole body must be in constant motion. Not just her fingers, hands and arms are involved. She is a devotee of the Lang Lang school of emotive facial distortions as a necessary aspect of her piano playing. Her default facial emotion is the grimcace, reminding us either that it is very hard to play what she is playing, or that she is suffering emotional torments from the sheer beauty of her playing.

At least Lang Lang stays put at the piano. Ms. Shindo can't sit still - literally. She is constantly rising from the bench. If she had her way, she'd go full Jerry Lee Lewis and dispense with the bench altogether, but the judges - who put up with a lot of bodily distortions from competitors these days - probably would frown on that as a step too far. Since Ms. Shindo has to stay rooted to some degree to her piano bench, she compensates by bringing her feet into motion. Her left foot isn't there just to operate the una corda pedal; it's designed to hover in the air and move in harmony with the excessive motions of her left hand. Similarly, her right leg spends half of the time managing the dampers, and the other half beating the tempo on the floor. Ms. Shindo has the benefit of hiding a lot of this useless motion under a long skirt, but if you want to see another competitor who has a bad case of pianistic Restless Leg Syndrome, watch Canadian competitor Bruce Liu in action.

I suppose all of these distractions could be overlooked if Ms. Shindo had a meaningful musical message to deliver. A lot of people, after all, close their eyes during a Lang Lang concert to avoid watching his distorted physical movements, and concentrate instead on his musicality. You can't make that argument with Ms. Shindo. With her delicate touch, she is a mistress of the delicious musical phrase. But that's all there is to her piano playing. She presents an incessant stream of lush musical phrases, which all end with an extended ritard, disconnecting each phrase from the next. If you want to hear this in action, listen to her Third Sonata Op. 58 performance - particularly the Largo, where she loses all control of the tempo and drowns poor Chopin in a pool of honeyed sentimentality that lacks any sense of structural coherence.
Although I find her movements distracting, I think this post is extremely nasty and mean spirited. Just to get into this competition she needs to play better than most conservatory grads. She has made it to the third stage so the jury clearly disagrees with you.

Facial expressions should generally be ignored because very few in the audience would have the close up face to face view the camera shows. Trifonov certainly makes faces.

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I love Khozhyainov, but I thought he seemed strangely off his game this morning. Or is this just me? I started to notice it in the final section of Op. 48 No. 1: thumpy and lacking the yearning, almost tragic lyricism that I really thing needs to be there. Most surprising of all, mistakes! I thought his technique was impregnable. I still love him though. The tempo and execution of the 2nd movement of the sonata was perfection.


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Originally Posted by SiFi
I love Khozhyainov, but I thought he seemed strangely off his game this morning. Or is this just me? I started to notice it in the final section of Op. 48 No. 1: thumpy and lacking the yearning, almost tragic lyricism that I really thing needs to be there. Most surprising of all, mistakes! I thought his technique was impregnable. I still love him though. The tempo and execution of the 2nd movement of the sonata was perfection.

Yes he made several mistakes in the nocturne. I thought his interpretation was quite personal though I personally did not like the rushed ending.

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I disagree. The facial contortions and bodily swaying got out of hand with Lang Lang, and have become more than a nuisance on the concert stage ever since. Even if you are sitting out in the hall and not able to see the facial expressions well, you can't ignore all the other extraneous motions going on. This was not an issue twenty or thirty years ago. It's something either promoted by teachers or tolerated by them. These competitions are about the only place to put a stop to this, by not promoting competitors who have been taught to play the instrument with their whole body. I do agree with you on Trifonov, though in his case he is a very gifted communicator through his music. You just have to close your eyes sometimes when he is playing. BTW, isn't the fact that we live in an age of extremely close facial views by the camera a reason to get rid of all the unnecessary emoting?

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I love Shindo’s music. I don’t know where she learned the body movement. One of her teachers from her childhood is the same one as Kobayashi had when she was a child. Their teacher lived in US for a long time and known to discourage students from unnecessary body movements. Shindo went to Russia at the tender age of 15. Speaking of determination, I admire her. For that matter everyone else in the competition too. Thinking of sacrifice they made on top of hours of practice, I wish I could give prizes to all the contestants.

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The standalone Prelude Op. 45 was the best part of Khozhyainov's program for me. The Nocturne was a bit pedestrian.

Notwithstanding the competition rules, I too would like to see the number of finalists bumped up by a few above 10. I do wonder whether ALL past competitors at Stage 3 would advance to the Final. It seems that we have many of them this time (at Stage 3), correct? I did a very quick search on the 2015 Finalists and it seems that Aljoša Jurinić was also in the 2010 edition, though he was cut after Stage 1. He was in the 2015 Final, but did not place. They did cut Osokins after Stage 2 this time.


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Originally Posted by Numerian
I disagree. The facial contortions and bodily swaying got out of hand with Lang Lang, and have become more than a nuisance on the concert stage ever since. Even if you are sitting out in the hall and not able to see the facial expressions well, you can't ignore all the other extraneous motions going on...You just have to close your eyes sometimes when he is playing. BTW, isn't the fact that we live in an age of extremely close facial views by the camera a reason to get rid of all the unnecessary emoting?
If you read my post I was careful to say that the facial expressions(but not body movements which are visible to most of the audience) should basically be ignored for the reasons I gave. A significant percentage of pianists, both past and present, when viewed straight on from a few feet away, make faces. Most pianists who make faces would have great difficulty learning to play without making them. If they were that serious a problem, more teachers would be actively discouraging them.

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I think teachers should discourage them, and they can do so at these competitions, since most of the jurors are eminent teachers. The phenomenon is, without doubt, relatively new, and it's not that close-up camera shots are new. There is plenty of television video coverage of recitals to show what performance standards were like in the previous century. You can find any number of television broadcasts of Artur Rubenstein to compare. I had first row seats on stage for a Horowitz recital, and sat about 20 feet away from him. His expressions were perfectly normal - no pursing of lips, furrowing of the brows, bulging eyes, sideway glances off to the distance, or staring at the ceiling. No four to five minute delays before performing pieces while he fiddled with his handkerchief, calmed his nerves, focused his attention, and communed with St. Cecilia for inspiration. All of these behaviors are learned affectations that are indulged in by the teachers or even taught by them.

Here's Georgy Cziffra warming up for a televised recital, and then the full recital, in 1962. He didn't need any artificial body or facial movements to establish his virtuosity or the high quality of his musical standards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTAfCTcsZq8&ab_channel=ClassicalPianoRarities%F0%9F%8E%B9

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