Friday, 31 May 2013


Every member of the audience was a 
jury member in his/her own right.
Eight of my semifinal picks made it through. 


So we’ve reached the end of the Preliminary Rounds, after a whopping 60 recitals by 30 pianists, 29 of whom I’ve liked. So it remains the onerous task of picking just 12, and disappointing 18 others. This is one competition where there are no weak participants (including the artistically wayward ones), and any of the 30 would walk into another competition and be its winner stat. Here are the 12 pianists I have chosen (in alphabetical order, and a capsule summary):

ABROSIMOV (Substitute pianist, best Prokofiev 8)
CHERNOV (Mature and solid musician)
DELJAVAN (Angst-ridden Italian, possible winner)
DONG (Passionate China doll)
DUMONT (Mature Frenchman, ready to conquer the world)
FAVORIN (Loved his offbeat repertoire, and Tannhauser)
GILLHAM (Warm-hearted and genuine Queenslander)
KHOLODENKO (Rock solid Ukrainian, best ever Petrushka)
RANA (Old soul in a young body)
SAKATA (Japanese wunderkind)
SUNWOO (Gangnam Style and panache, by way of Vienna)
ZUBER (Rock solid American, most improved of 2 rounds)  

Dark horse:
BURATTO (I’ve always love the underdog)

So there have been some changes from my last pick after Phase One of the preliminaries. The Russian wunderkind Khozyainov has dropped off because I felt he could still develop in the area of feeling and living the music, like the way his older compatriot Chernov already has. The judges might differ and crown him the winner, but will he become a true musician under the hothouse and microscope Cliburn winners have to live with?

The jury's final twelve. The absence of Francois Dumont
remains a sore point.

Here are the judges' pick (In the announcement ceremony, they were seated in the balcony, separated from the audience and participants, which was a good thing in case of lynch mobs) and my own comments of their choices:

CHEN (Excellent first recital, but after that Hammerklavier?)
DELJAVAN (Agree most definitely)
DONG (Agree)
HUANGCI (I may have underestimated her having played so early.)
KHOLODENKO (Agree, especially for that Petrushka)
KHOZYAINOV (I knew the judges would pick him)
MNDOYANTS (I almost forgot about him, so Agree)
RANA (Agree, happily so)
SAKATA (Agree, whole-heartedly)

WHAT, no Dumont?

Sadly, my journey in The Cliburn ends today, as I return to Singapore to be with my family. Seven days of intense piano playing seems all too short, and time slips away ever so imperceptibly. I have enjoyed myself  greatly in Fort Worth, made many new friends (the photos will come soon), enjoyed its warm, hearty Texan hospitality and had a whale of a time. Will I be back in 4 years time? It certainly is tempting indeed...

All 12 semi-finalists line up (roughly in alphabetical order) 
for their press photo.


Robert Hairgrove said...

"What, no Dumont?"

My sentiments exactly!

Anonymous said...

chernov and deljavan were excellent, while dong fei fei improved a lot since her debacle in chopin2010..

huangci, khozyainov and gillham should have been elimated, while dumont deserved his elimination totally.