Young people battle it out at the Paloma O’Shea International Piano Competition

The Paloma O’Shea Competition, one of the most famous, strongest and best organized events of its kind on the planet, has just completed its 20th edition. This time there were more than 300 applications. A record for when, after 50 successful years, the founder may no longer appear at the head of the ship. It was left up in the air, after the speech preceding the awards ceremony, whether the competition will continue.

What was clear was that the three winners of the major trophies were the best in the opinion of the signatory and that of the other colleagues. And, of course, the jury, chaired again by the eminent and veteran pianist Joaquin Achucarro. Also to the public, who thanked the winner of the biggest prize, the Canadian Jaeden Izik-Dzurko23 years old, who exhibited himself in the second session playing faultlessly, with an obvious constructive will, a work as difficult and complex, as discursive at times, as is the Concerto No. 3 in D minor op. 30 by Rachmaninoff.

The young pianist showed very clear ideas, which he developed with very careful technique, attack security, dock sound, firm octaves and infallible pedal, bringing color, life and clarity to the most complex passages. At the awards ceremony, he offered two very different pieces from Medtner.

Izik-Dzurco greets Paloma O'Shea, the event director.

Izik-Dzurco greets Paloma O’Shea, the event director.

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The second prize went to the Chinese Xiaolu Zangof the same age, who served the most famous Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor op. 23 of Tchaikovsky; and he did it with poise – yes, youthful – and phenomenal speed and flight. With courage and determination. It was appreciated from the start, in the way of singing the famous opening theme, with its embellishments and its comments (and which, as we know, does not reappear throughout the work).

Then he distributes his forces well and had gas for everything. The final touch of the composition, with this cascade of octaves at full pressure in permanent struggle with the all, it was wonderful. During the closing ceremony, he played the last movement of one of the best known Sonatas of Prokofiev.

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Franco-Japanese Marcel Tadokoroa bit older (29), does a good job, nimble, picky, filigree, fiery Concerto No. 3 in C major op. 26 by Prokofiev himself. He showed surprising ease and flexibility, apparently without a single fault; and he let himself be carried away with a good sense of rubato in the most lyrical moments of the Andantino with variations. He knew how to reveal the irresistible spirit, of the continuous restless flight of dazzling Cheerful but not too much closing. Revealed an unusual ability to concentrate. During the final ceremony, he played a small work by Rameau and the first of three pieces by Petrushka by Stravinsky.

The other three finalists were the Japanese Yu Nitahara31, who played the Concerto No. 1 in D minor op. fifteen of Brahms in an irregular and somewhat hazy way, with sometimes a lack of precision; Czech Matyas Novak, of 24 springs, which revealed in the same work of the expressive manners of high flight and a very interesting control of the dynamics; and Hungarian Domonkos Csabayentered the selection at the age of 32 by the hair (this is the maximum age) and who revealed musicality, elegance and presence in the interpretation of another Concert n°3that of Bartók, who played well, but without grace, in a somewhat innocuous way, without emphasizing all that is wild and popular that the work shelters.

To all, in a titanic work, he accompanied them the symphony orchestra of RTVE, which was in great shape under the effective command of its motionless leader Paul Gonzalezwho once again knew how to articulate, manage the dynamics with an expressive sense, adapt to the ways and means of the soloists and give the appropriate coloring and rhythm to each composition.

After the award ceremony, which was presented with her knowledge and usual gallantry by Eva Sandoval, and broadcast on radio and television, the Orchestra and the director offered a performance scheduled in the program of the Festival of Santander music. Asian polo shirt revealed his courage, intonation and expressiveness in cello concerto of Dvorák and the baton his clear way of unfolding and projecting the timbres of the Madrid group in the Photos from an exhibition by Musorgsky/Ravel.

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