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The Chopin show
Pianist

The Chopin show

Posted Thursday, December 3, 2015   |   4450 views   |   Music   |   Comments (0) There were 17 judges with 17 different opinions, plus an audience with its own views, but everyone was happy with the final results at the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition. Erica Worth attended the concerto finals

Music history was made in the early hours of 21 October when 21-year-old Seong-Jin Cho became the first South Korean in the history of the Chopin Piano Competition to take the gold medal. The 17-person jury’s verdict was read out in the foyer of Warsaw’s Filharmonia Narodowa to a jam-packed crowd, and I shared in the excitement, having heard all nine E minor Concertos and one F minor during the three nights of the finals.

The impressive jury included previous winners of the competition such as Adam Harasiewicz (1955), Martha Argerich (1965), Garrick Ohlsson (1970) and Yundi Li (2000); distinguished Chopin players such as Nelson Goerner and Piotr Paleczny and Chopin expert John Rink. I agreed with the jury that Seong-Jin Cho (pictured above) deserved his victory, not least for his poetic, noble and moving account of the E minor Concerto. There were points in his performance when I might have liked a bit more daring and and at other times more left-hand power (possibly the fault of the orchestra, which
was a little overpowering at times), but Cho’s opening of the Romance slow movement overshadowed all of this. His playing was utterly sincere and well-shaped, bringing out an exquisite tone from the instrument. Cho’s runs were crystal clear and always rounded off beautifully. The Rondo third movement was full of witty exuberance. All in all, fine playing, with tight collaboration with conductor Jacek Kaspszyk and the Warsaw Philharmonic. Cho also won the Fryderyk Chopin Society Prize for best performance of a polonaise.

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