Публикация о конкурсе 14 конкурс им. Чайковского. Cello | Raymond Stults, 24 June

  • Автор темы Мария Холкина
  • Дата начала

Мария Холкина

The five finalists in cello emerged last night from the semi-final group of eight, causing no serious surprises, but undoubtedly great disappointment both to the three left out and to Russia’s Ministry of Culture.

Last year, the Ministry organized a rather lavish “All-Russia” musical competition, conducted in 10 cities throughout the country. One of its purposes was apparently to provide a sort of training ground for the Tchaikovsky Competition. When it came to selecting cellists for the Tchaikovsky, both the “All-Russia” first-prize winner, Alexander Ramm, and second-prize winner, Alexei Zhilin, made the grade -- indeed, as the only Russians to do so -- and both progressed to the second part of Round II. In the end, however, neither was picked as a finalist or even as recipient of one of the jury’s special prizes. (Interestingly enough, it appears that none of Russia’s other three instrumental finalists announced last night – two in piano, one in violin – even took part in last year’s competition.)

Two straight evenings of Joseph Haydn’s C-major Cello Concerto, as performed by the each of the eight semi-finalists, proved an enlightening experience. Listening carefully to eight diverse interpretations of the same piece in close succession, I ended up receiving what seemed a comprehensive lesson in the art of cello playing.

Based on that lesson, what would I judge to have separated the eventual finalists from those who failed to make the cut? All eight displayed a very high degree of technical proficiency and beauty of tone; all coped well with the various musical styles found in their first and second round repertoires; and all left their own interpretive mark on the music played.

While the judges no doubt picked the finalists in part for reasons incomprehensible to a non-cellist, I can’t help but believe that a major element in their choice was the musicians’ ability to communicate with an audience. Taking the Haydn concerto, in particular, the two Russians seemed to be playing almost entirely for their own benefit, as, to a somewhat lesser extent, did Matthew Zalkind, the American who lost out.

Contrast that with the performances of the other five, each of whom, in his own way, could be felt reaching out to his listeners. Best of all in that respect was Italian Umberto Clerici, whose cello constantly “sang” to the audience, a quality mastered only a degree or so less well by Armenian Narek Hakhnazaryan and Belorussian Ivan Karzina. Frenchman Edgar Moreau and German Norbert Anger adopted a more reserved approach, but one which never failed to include their respective listeners.

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