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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heifetz competition Part I

Seems like at the last Heifetz competition I had more time to listen, to all participants of the first round. This time I listened to only six of the 26 who turned up (out of 37 who were admitted).

Of the six, two were very good - though the Russian, Maxim Kosinov, who played by far the best Bach I have ever heard in this competition, let himself down by seeming to be less engaged in the music than he could have been. That is his personal style, I suppose, but it's a shame. Clearly, though, he is a huge baroque music expert.

I don't know what is so difficult about playing Bach, apart from those technical bits - though no-one I heard played the Chaconne from the second Partita. Bach has something to say, and he says it in sentences, with full-stops. But people generally, apart from Kosinov, did not seem to notice those full-stops.

There was a modern piece, 'Threshold', by Felix Bajoras, which I am told is very difficult - not so much technically, but in terms of expression, especially since he did not add any performance instructions, including tempo. Ani Batikyan from Armenia, working in Glasgow (!), introduced some very interesting flautando effects into the piece. The funkiest performance of this, though, was by Sergey Malov, who ended it on a joke. I know who my money is on for this competition! The only Lithuanian I heard, Justina Auskelyte, showed some personality in her playing which was nice.  Malov and Auskelyte, of these six, are in the final.

After the first round decision there were some mutterings from other candidates. It's always thus, of course, and competitions are competitions. The mutterings involved comments along the lines 'they are little girls who play what the teacher tells them'. I have to admit I was surprised about one of the people in the final (who I did not hear but whose playing I know from other occasions, though these are some time ago).

Also not totally convinced about the decision to give the prizes for the best performances of individual pieces to those not in the final. Of course, it is a very kind decision and makes the prizes go around a bit further. But they are the prizes for the BEST performances. Did these people really give the BEST performances of these pieces, or are they the BEST performances BY THE NON-FINALISTS?

3 comments:

puikioji said...

It is very interesting to read your blog (even though I am so curious to reveal who is the author hiding behind violainvilnius). Looking forward to hear your comments about the final.

m-violinist said...

Really nice to hear that people appreciate my Bach. Thank you!
Sviridov had a fantastic Bach though, I have never heard it like that anywhere. As far I know they gave these special prizes for best performers non-finalists.
"to be less engaged in the music than he could have been" - how is that? Not enough "show"? I am really interested to understand that as I am feeling anything but not "unengaged" during my play. Would be very grateful to hear more from you on that...

Best wishes,

Maxim Kosinov
mkosinov@gmail.com

m-violinist said...

Really nice to hear that people appreciate my Bach. Thank you!
Sviridov had a fantastic Bach though, I have never heard it like that anywhere. As far I know they gave these special prizes for best performers non-finalists.
"to be less engaged in the music than he could have been" - how is that? Not enough "show"? I am really interested to understand that as I am feeling anything but not "unengaged" during my play. Would be very grateful to hear more from you on that...

Best wishes,

Maxim Kosinov
mkosinov@gmail.com