Zoltán Fejérvári — Concours musical international de Montréal
by Xenia Hanusiak
The 2017 competition of the Concours musical international de Montréal (CMIM) has been won by Zoltán Fejérvári, a 30-year-old pianist from Hungary. Outperforming 300 other contestants — a 120% increase from the previous piano edition held in 2014 — Fejérvári takes home the $30,000 first prize from the City of Montreal and the $50,000 Joseph Rouleau Career Development Grant from by the Azrieli Foundation.
The CIMM holds the honour of being the only international music competition in North America to hold a contest every year. Its 2018 edition will be dedicated to voice and its 2019 competition to the violin.
Unlike many competitors, Fejérvári is not a serial contestant, and the CMIM represents Fejérvári’s first major prize. In 2010 he earned second prize at the James Mottram International Piano Competition held in Manchester and in 2014 he received a Junior Prima Award. Presently he is the holder of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship.
Fejérvári’s competition reticence may have something to do with the pianist’s passion for chamber music. Not only has Fejérvári been teaching in the chamber music department of the Liszt Academy of Music since 2014, but his past and future recital and recording profile is almost exclusively devoted to chamber music. He has collaborated with both the Keller and Kodály Quartets and has worked with such chamber musicians as Gary Hoffman, Joseph Lin, Cristoph Richter, András Keller, Ivan Monighetti, and Steven Isserlis. He has been a participant in Kronberg’s “Chamber Music Connects the World” program, Prussia Cove’s “Open Chamber Music”, Lisztomania in Chateauroux, the Tiszadob Piano Festival, and Encuentro de Música in Santander. At the invitation of Mitsuko Uchida, he participated in the Marlboro Music Festival during the summers of 2014–2016.
Fejérvári says that “The balance between chamber music and solo recitals has become somewhat different since winning in Montreal. Before, I’d played more chamber music. I absolutely enjoy chamber music, but I have always had a need and a desire to do more solo work, which I also love.” If Fejérvári had a dream gig, he says, he would choose a Mozart or Beethoven Concerto with John Eliot Gardiner.
Fejérvári chose the CMIM competition because of “its flexibility regarding repertoire. I could play the pieces I felt very close to,” he says. These pieces included his attention-grabbing interpretation of Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in the finals, and his solo and chamber music performances of Janáček, Scriabin, Beethoven and Bach in the earlier solo rounds.
Fejérvári says he also chose the competition because, he says, “I really like Canada.” Fejérvári’s love for Canada is being rewarded in the MIMC engagement package. He has already given a recital in the Quebec borough of Lachine. “Then there’s a west coast tour, a concerto performance, and an engagement at the prestigious Napa Festival. The amazing Banff Center is also providing a two weeks residency — where I’m going to record my debut CD.”