By now, we know the winners of the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition: the piano competition was won by Daniil Trifonov, an admirable pianist, who played consistently well throughout the competition.
Before the results were announced in the evening at the Award ceremony, three finalists still had to perform in the afternoon. Trifonov played Chopin #1. Last year October, he had already been a prize winner of the famous Chopin Competition in Warsaw, and he had also played this concerto at the recent Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv (and who knows how many more times in between), so he has ample experience with this concerto. However, to play Chopin in Warsaw or at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow truly makes a difference. As Trifonov must have noticed (and must have known, being Russian), it is more in the blood of these orchestra players to play Russian music. And, to be honest, I also found that Trifonov can play Chopin better than he did yesterday. His performance was pianistically very good, but his approach and touch were quite direct and not very romantic. The lyrical parts of the concerto could have sounded rounder and warmer. The final chord of the concerto was perfect: soloist and orchestra were perfectly together.
After Trifonov, Yeol Eum Son (25) from Korea played Tchaikovsky. For this, she had chosen the Yamaha CFX grand piano. Her sound was strong and bright. Quite frequently during her performance, she stands half up. It probably helps her in placing stronger accents and creating a bigger sound, but I thought that it would also be extra tiring.
Outside, the weather was hot and inside the Great Hall, it was not much cooler. The audience felt sorry for Alexey Chernov, who had chosen to play Brahms #1. Very courageous! Contestants are always concerned about the right choice of repertoire. When they ask me, I always advise them to play what they feel most comfortable with. However, listening to Chernov's 50-minute Brahms, I thought he was a bit unfortunate having chosen this.
In the evening, Chernov received the 5th prize, and he was clearly not happy with that. Yeol Eum got 2nd, and her compatriot Cho 3rd. The award ceremony at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall started one hour late, due to the delayed arrival of jury and contestants (singers and violinists) from St. Petersburg. There were many great and famous musicians. Van Cliburn gave a touching speech, and Valery Gergiev thanked everybody. Special tribute was given to 1970 Tchaikovsky winner Vladimir Krainev who had recently passed away. Very many of us had known him and this was an emotional moment. A special Vladimir Krainev Award - for the best interpretation of a Rachmaninov concerto - went to Alexander Romanovsky, in addition to his 4th prize.
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