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Estonia Pianos
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Brendan
wish I knew Classical Music as well as you do.
I am more a Musical Theater Expert and could critique mistakes if they were playing Broadway Scores.

However, I am excited that several of my Favorites are in the finals.
I know a limited amount of Classical and can surmise when it is well played, accurately and with feeling.

I am excited for:

Dmytro Choni
Yunchan Lim
Clayton Stephenson

Yutong Sun

also
Marcel Tadokoro
Ilya Shmukler

I truly believe that Lim & Stephenson will be in the finals, at least I feel they deserve to be, so far! wink

brdwyguy


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2 jam packed hour recitals tomorrow with Yutong Sun playing Chopin F# minor Polonaise and Prokofiev's #8 War Sonata, some Albeniz and preludes by Lyatoshynsky, with which I am unfamiliar. Does anyone here know this composer?

20 year old Kamei from Japan is going finger busters with the "Waldstein", Liszt "La Campanella" and not only "Gaspard" but the piece that provoked Ravel into writing what was considered the most difficult piece in the repertoire at the time: Balakirev's "Islamey". Never heard those programmed back to back. Hope Kamei has enough stamina to finish, but he's young.


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Originally Posted by BeeZee4
20 year old Kamei from Japan is going finger busters with the "Waldstein", Liszt "La Campanella" and not only "Gaspard" but the piece that provoked Ravel into writing what was considered the most difficult piece in the repertoire at the time: Balakirev's "Islamey". Never heard those programmed back to back. Hope Kamei has enough stamina to finish, but he's young.
For me, programing the last three of those in the same recital is a poor programing choice even though I like all of them.

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Yeah, it's a little much. I heard Bronfman do a similar program in Kansas City a while ago: Beethoven 27/1, Schumann Fantasy, Gaspard, Islamey. It was tiring to listen to and I was kind of wondering what the point was, even in spite of his playing (which was quite good, even if he played everything a little under tempo).

Found a review from Seattle where he played it during the same season: https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/bronfmans-keyboard-sizzles-audience-cheers/

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Well I'm finally caught up and for the preliminary round, seven of my nine picks got through, as did five of my seven dark horses. For the quarterfinals I made six picks, five of which got through, as did my two dark horses.

If I were to guess I'd say that Yunchan Lim is the frontrunner, and while I find him remarkably poised and polished especially at his young age I also feel he lacks fresh musical insight or a personal perspective and tends to play kind of safe. Kamei is also right up there. Choni has obvious reasons that have nothing to do with piano for people to want to root for him, so it's a good thing that he is also genuinely playing well.

Musically, my favorite of the remaining crop is probably Honggi Kim, but I think that his lapses of focus may be too big an issue to award him top honors, unfortunately. I liked Linnik as well but his technical struggles became too apparent in the quarterfinals.

It is a real shame there is such a dearth of represention by women in this competition. I have a hard time believing that there weren't enough qualified pianists to choose from so I wonder what happened?

Regarding the pianos, I wonder why they cut the options this time? Was nice to hear Yamahas and Kawais to mix it up in the past.

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Here's a terrific recent article from the NY Times about the Russian and Ukrainian pianists competing in the competition:

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/07/arts/music/cliburn-piano-competition-texas-ukraine-war.html

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Listening to Sun right now. Very fine playing, but I find the piano overly bright with a somewhat harsh sound. Based on the squared-off shoulders I’m assuming it’s a New York model D. I just can’t warm up to the sound. I don’t think it is Sun, because he had a very fine sound in the prior rounds. What do others think?

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Kamei playing a beautiful, fluid, ethereal rendition of Gaspard. La Campanella was handled with ease and great control of technique and sound. The piano sounds great (Hamburg Steinway).

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Kamei's program actually worked for me (surprisingly). A whole mess of fingerbusting showpieces, but he gave them all distinct enough sound and feeling that they didn't run together.

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Yutong Sun did well. The Chopin F# minor Polonaise is his most dramatic and conflicted of the Polonaises. And programming the Ukrainian composer Lyatoshynsky was masterly in light of current events. The slow preludes were heartbreaking and very moving. His Proko #8 was likewise solid, percussive and dissonant as Proko can be. We'll see how he does in the Mozart d minor concerto.

Kamei had absolutely no fear and nailed his very ambitious program. His "Waldstein" was solid. Not a lot of risk taking, but you have to have a conservative approach in these competitions. Fluid and balanced with very good tempi. The Rondo flowed nicely in Allegretto Moderato (with a bit of grazioso as well) but the coda really should have been more Prestissimo. No octave glissandi, he opted for the regular octaves at that tempo as a result.
"La Campanella" was the usual showpiece, very bravura but his piannissimos were delicate and well contrasted with the bravura sections.
His reading of "Gaspard" was so magical that I felt he could have ditched "Islamey", which sounded like overkill after that menacing "Scarbo". Kamei certainly exhibited a lot of energy and stamina. He still has the Mozart F major concerto after this, a whole different set of challenges to convince the jury.

I don't miss the previous required chamber works the Cliburn was noted for. Not that I don't like chamber music, it just seems more realistic for a concert artist to have another concerto under one's belt, and a Mozart one at that. And most concert promoters and managers would say its easier to program a concerto with orchestra in most subscription concerts, since that's a bigger draw than a chamber event.


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Kamei's performance of Campanella and Islamey were among the very best I have ever heard. When I first saw the announcement of this program I thought putting both those on the same recital was not a good choice, but his playing was so terrific I changed my mind. I've only heard the opening of Ondine so far and thought this was also sensational. He seemed to play the opening LH melody much softer than most other performers but I thought it was tremendously effective. It was almost shocking how he handled all the technical difficulties of his program with so much apparent ease.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/09/22 07:44 AM.
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Sun - not his best, but still at a high level. I wasn't convinced by the program; the Albeniz has never really grabbed me as a piece (Iberia as a whole is less interesting than Goyescas, IMO) and the Chopin seemed bangy and unfocused. I liked the two preludes that followed, but coupled with the long and heavy Prokofiev, the second half felt oppressive to listen to. I'll give him props for not faking the parts that people usually have to (the coda of the outer movements).

Kamei - unreal! I wasn't expecting to enjoy a "hits" program as much as I did. The Waldstein was a little tame in the first movement, but he let loose as it went. As for the showpieces that followed (Campanella, Gaspard, and Islamey), all I can say is that you'll probably never hear them played better in a live concert, or possibly even on recordings. The control of the soft dynamics in Campanella was god-tier, Ravel had all the color and subtleties of the best of the pianists of the French school, and Islamey...well, I'll just say that he made me like the piece! Looking ahead, he has some very smart programming choices with his concerti - Mozart, Saint-Saens, and Rach. Incredible variety.

On another note, all three of the previous entrants (Sun, Shmukler, and Kim) have made it to the semis again. I think at least one of them will make it to the finals.

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I have not heard too much of a competition, but I wonder why the live stream and studio on youtube channels looks like recording from Chopin Competition in Warsaw from 1980? I am refering to that clip:


The only thing that looks good is interview with Elisabeth Roes.
Studio with Jon Nakamatsu is clear both in design and quality 40 years back.

Why they cannot do this properly in 2022?

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Very impressed with Clayton Stephensen this afternoon!

The Liebermann and Brahms were stunning.

The Beethoven had lovely contrasts and "glow," two very slight oops moments, and other little things that would not be everybody's cup of tea... which made it interesting. grin

What are your Waldsteinian thoughts?

Surely he should be in the final!


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Hm I don’t agree, Clayton’s a good pianist (of course), but his playing sounds far less mature and refined than the other competitors IMO. I’m actually very surprised he got this far

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Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
Very impressed with Clayton Stephensen this afternoon!

The Liebermann and Brahms were stunning.

The Beethoven had lovely contrasts and "glow," two very slight oops moments, and other little things that would not be everybody's cup of tea... which made it interesting. grin

What are your Waldsteinian thoughts?

Surely he should be in the final!

I think he suffered playing in close proximity and in similar rep to Kamei, who outclassed him on the Waldstein. There were lots of tiny slips in each piece (granted, everyone is under tremendous pressure), but it added up after a while and unfortunately detracted from the performance. Same thing with the outer movements of the Liebermann, the fingery moments got away from him. His technique is better suited to big chords/octaves/wrist attacks than it is to precise finger work. The Brahms had a lot of majesty and power to it, and he seemed most comfortable with this.

Shin - poor repertoire choice with the Schumann. Why do people play this horrible piece? It's inferior to Schumann's other sets and is musically unsatisfying in so many ways (not to mention technically awkward, even for Schumann). He gave a great performance, but I'm not sure it was the right idea to dedicate half your recital to it in a competition setting. The Bach was good (sometimes the articulation was too clipped for my tastes) and he was comfortable onstage with it. Prokofiev went well; the first movement had the right tempo and he brought tension to the second movement and the right amount of drive to the finale, again not going crazy fast.

So, as of now I'd say Kamei is still light years ahead of everyone else.

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Clayton's Waldstein was more in the vein of Igor Levit: fast paced, dynamic and forward. The Rondo flowed well and the coda was prestissimo as Ludwig indicated. And he executed the octave glissandi well. Kamei's was less propulsive but also fine (except for the Rondo coda). I enjoyed Kamei's 1st movement of Waldstein, but preferred Clayton's 2nd and 3rd movement. The Brahms was very orchestral, majestic and massive. Executed very well. Looking forward to his rendition of the "Elvira Madigan" Concerto of Mozart.

Shin fared best in the Prokoviev. Biting, incisive and percussive. His Bach was articulate and executed well, but was not memorable. And I agree about Humoreske. A difficult piece to pull off, composed of very disparate movements and to hold them all together and create a compelling cycle takes a magical effort. And to me it wasn't there. This was the 2nd time Humoreske has been played here and it still doesn't work. Kreisleriana, the Fantasy, even Faschingsschwank aus Wien might have been better.


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Maybe I was just in the right mood for it, but I like Shin's Humoreske a lot.

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I enjoyed his Humoresque as well. It's a piece that I find has a tendency to ramble badly in the wrong hands, and he gave the individual movements enough character to keep that from happening for me.

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Concerti tonight!

Kim - beautiful, together with the orchestra, and solid. A fairly standard interpretation that was maybe too heavy in places, but he didn't do any damage to his standing in the competition with this performance (it could be also said that he didn't take a huge leap ahead).

Tadokoro - on another level completely and one of the most creative performances we've had so far. He's getting better and better each round, and this was like a professional performance and didn't sound like he was in a competition. The ornaments in the finale were amazing, as was his overall integration/dialogue with the orchestra. I also just noticed that he has the same teacher as Alexander Kantorow, who just won the last Tchaikovsky competition - I don't know what she's telling them in lessons, but man it does it work.

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