Browsing: Piano

Jan Ladislav Dussek could have been a contender if only Mozart had been born somewhere else and at another time. Dussek (1760 to 1812) has the wrong dates and the wrong skill sets. Two bars into every movement he picks a note that you know Mozart would have declined for a better choice and, while Dussek may recover quickly and deliver a passage that could pass for Clementi at his best, your ear is already tensed for the next false turn. Of the three concertos on offer here, two are contemporaneous with late Mozart in 1787 and 1791 yet have…

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Last May, 22-year-old pianist Élisabeth Pion from Otterburn Park, Quebec, won the Shean Piano Competition in Edmonton for her performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto. With this feather in her cap, she is about to embark on a Master’s at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London with Ronan O’Hora. Shortly before her departure for the U.K., Pion spoke about her world of freedom, multidisciplinarity and solitude – ingredients that seem to match her pensive look and the nonchalance of a young Martha Argerich. Talk of music quickly veers off into the autobiographical Carnets by Camus, which she is…

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At age 26, Nicolas Namoradze has had a remarkable career. He’s given recitals around the world and played with distinguished orchestras in Europe and the United States. Festivals have asked him to write works which have been played by eminent musicians. Most recently, he won first prize in the 2018 Honens Piano Competition in Calgary. Winning this competition was the stuff of dreams for Namoradze. And he thinks it came down to luck: “My teacher, Emanuel Ax, believes that competitions are like lotteries: you just have to be lucky. I certainly feel extremely lucky and I am enormously grateful.” The…

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A critic’s dilemma. The cellist Steven Isserlis is a pal. He lives around the corner and we bump into each other at local amenities. He knows I have received his latest release for review. He will be disappointed if I ignore it and grumpy if I find fault. To review or not to review? If I ruled out reviewing friends I’d have to turn down half the record output. By the same token, if I mentioned a friendship every time I reviewed, readers would switch off. So what to do? I made a rule a while back that I would…

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Amid the excitement over a rediscovered rehearsal tape of the composer playing Symphonic Dances, there arrives a new account of two concertos with Rachmaninov’s favourite orchestra and the living pianist who most resembles him. Deutsche Grammophon has titled the album Destination Rachmaninov. Departure and furnished the cover with a portrait of the soloist, Daniil Trifonov, sitting in the kind of railway compartment that went out with shellac records. Do not be distracted by these marketing tricks. Trifonov opens with C minor concerto with quiet authority, each chord darker than the one before, Rachmaninov at his most morose. If this concerto had a…

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Camille Saint-Saens was the first Frenchman to compose piano concertos. Of the five that he wrote between 1858 and 1886, only the second gets much play and one hears few claims that the rest are scandalously neglected. Some connoisseurs consider the fourth his best. Most agree that the fifth, a pastiche of tunes supposedly sung by Egyptian boatmen at Luxor, falls somewhere between embarrassing and irredeemable. The Canadian pianist Louis Lortie and the young Frenchman Bertrand Chamayou have kicked off cycles of the concertos on their respective labels. Lortie, vastly experienced, plays 1, 2 and 4 on his release, never…

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CALGARY, Canada, September 7, 2018 — Georgian pianist Nicolas Namoradze (age 26) has been named Prize Laureate of the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition. He wins the world’s largest prize for piano $100,000 (CAD) and an Artist Development Program valued at a half-million dollars.  Finalists Han Chen (Taiwan / age 26) and Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner (United States / age 21) each received Raeburn Prizes of $10,000 (CAD), and for the first time in Honens’ history an Audience Award of $5,000 (CAD) was presented to Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner. “What a wonderful thing for Honens … what a wonderful thing for Nicolas Namoradze!” says Neil Edwards, Honens’ President & CEO.…

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Calgary, Canada, September 4, 2018—The three Finalists for the top prize at the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition were announced just after midnight in Calgary, following five intense days of Semifinals. Han Chen (Taiwan / age 26), Nicolas Namoradze (Georgia / age 26), and Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner (United States / age 21), will vie for the title of Honens Prize Laureate and be awarded the world’s largest prize of its kind—$100,000 (CAD) and an Artistic Development Program valued at a half-million dollars. “The Jury had a difficult, if not nearly impossible, task before them but one that they completed with great…

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I am lucky to have been able to work at what I love around the world for almost 20 years: performing with wonderful singers and instrumentalists. I also teach master classes on this profession that might be considered “in the shadows,” since it’s not about playing a recital or being a soloist with an orchestra. However, my profession is most certainly that of a pianist. I don’t “accompany” or “collaborate.” I play the piano. Chamber music and sharing with other musicians, on stage or in studio, is a different art than that of being a soloist. Although it’s the same…

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The 30th edition of the Carrefour mondial de l’accordéon de Montmagny has been officially inaugurated. The well established event from the Chaudière Appalaches region of northern Quebec presents every year some of the best accordion players from different corners around the world. On opening night, Aug. 31, a full house was treated to a buffet of multi-ethnic sounds. Filippo Gambetta and Andrea Di Giacomo from Italy, Roman Jbanov and Alexei Brioukov from Russia, Emily Stam from Canada, Antonio Rivas, Daniel Ochoa and Jairo Gomez from Colombia, Gary Blair and Robin Hyland from Scotland, and Sylvie Pullès and Maxime Cayron from…

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