Zhang Aidi (No.3)
Began with a totally competent reading of Chopin’s Scherzo No.2, with a variety of colour and much poise. Ravel’s Jeux d’eau further confirmed a superior technique, in a performance that was evocative, gorgeously shaped and full of nuance and imagination. Having missed the balance of her programme, the First Prize awarded to her was deserving based on the strength of these pieces.
This close-cropped and lanky young lady meant business, as she ripped through Prokofiev’s Suggestion Diabolique (Op.4 No.4) with ease. Balancing her programme with a very nicely shaded Mozart’s Adagio in B minor (K.540) was a very wise choice, showing a poetic side and certain maturity.
Soh Ser Yee (No.20)
My top choice of the quarter finals. Her view of Mendelssohn’s Andante and Rondo Capriccioso (Op.14) was as close to a dream performance; sheer beauty in the slow introduction and elfin lightness in the ensuing rondo. If only she did not make those Lang Lang-like grimaces and facial expressions. A wholly concert-worthy Granados Allegro de Concierto – full of colour and movement – capped a fine outing. She finished a commendable Second.
There were several other pianists who stood out for reasons other than technical excellence, which were worthy of mention:
One young man had the chutzpah of even attempting Liszt’s La Campanella, blithely non-cognizant of his technical limitations. At least he was entertaining. Preceding him was another young man, who barnstormed skittishly through Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm but got totally exposed in the subtleties of Beethoven’s late Sonata in E minor (Op.90). Nice tries, lads, but do ask your teachers some serious questions.