HONGKONG INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION 2011
Finals Day 3 (Sunday, 30 October 2011)
ANN SOO JUNG (South Korea)
Appearing in a stunning orange gown, the pretty young Korean is an artist who can also make heads turn in many ways than one. In my humble opinion, she gave the most beautiful account of Bake’s Speech. Even playing with a score, her conception of the work as a nocturne was breathtaking, delighting in its lyrical beauty yet revelling in its turbulence. In fact she combined the best qualities of the earlier readings in a sumptuous whole which bears repeated listening.
Her Rach 3 was to be totally different from Chen’s. While the young man was happy to go along with the flow, Ann seemed to dictate the pace and proceedings. She had better sound projection and articulation, and one could sense her going for broke even at an early stage. Although always conscious of making a beautiful sound, the risk-taking had its drawbacks, the number of lapses and flurry of wrong notes was to dog the performance, most notably in the opening movement. Like Chen, she played the shorter mercurial cadenza, even though she might have succeeded with the bigger-boned one. Perhaps it was a case of damage limitation.
The second movement worked much better for her, and it was sheer delight through its rapturous pages, and the ensuing rush into the hectic finale. One has to feel for her as not all the notes were there for the Alla breve finale, and there was an uneasy sense of an accident waiting to happen. However she delivered the big melody well, on both occasions, as the performance worked to a heady conclusion. Here she gave her best shot, and even if this was not to be her day, it was an admirable effort. Her conception and view of the music and its trajectory was close to perfect, it was the execution which fell short.
My verdict: A very musical if flawed account of Rach 3 may have put paid to her chances of a top three finish. Would still definitely want to hear her again.
Having not heard the earlier rounds, I hazard to make any predictions of the final placings, lest one gets egg splattered on the face. However based on the showings in the concerto finals, my choices were as follows:
Winner (Numero Uno): Giuseppe Andaloro
Most raw potential: Tsai Min Hao
Best performance of Blake: Ann Soo Jung