Preliminary Rounds (Phase Two)
Day 5 Recital One (11 am)
Tuesday 28 May 2013
The programme NIKITA MNDOYANTS (Russia) chose for his second recital did not appear immediately attractive on paper but proved otherwise in practice. His mastery of counterpoint in Bach’s less familiar Toccata in F sharp minor (BWV.910) was close to perfection, a nice introduction to Haydn’s attractive little Sonata in G major (Hob.XVI:6), which sounded pretty like much of the Haydn we’ve heard to date. His true metier came in Taneyev’s mine-laden Prelude & Fugue in G sharp minor (Op.29), which like the Bach before, revelled in fugal complexities besides being a notorious finger-buster. He succeeded with great aplomb, and continued with Armenian composer Arno Babadjanian’s Six Pictures, dissonant mini tone-poems, some of which are folk-influenced. These too were very impressively performed. Standometer: **
My view: Has improved his chances by several leaps.
My dark horse for the competition, LUCA BURATTO (Italy), appears far better groomed today despite his crumpled white shirt. Gone is the extreme facial grimacing from the earlier phase, a relief which allowed everyone including himself to focus wholly on the music. His Bach Toccata in C minor (BWV.911) was a joy to behold, its fugue leaping into fulsome life. There was much drama in the two Schumann Novelettes from Op.21 (Nos.2 & 8, longer essays than their titles suggested), but he could have done with less pedalling. He closed his recital with Bartok’s Sonata, where a rhythmic exuberance gave its percussive abrasiveness an added sheen. Standometer: **1/2
My view: Would like to see him progress, but the powers that be might (and will) differ.
GIUSEPPE GRECO (Italy) is, as always, impeccable in his deportment, also keenly reflected in his playing. His Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie (Op.61) had more fire than the one played by Mndoyants earlier, and was more direct in its rhythmic thrust. For the Prokofiev Eighth Sonata in B flat major (Op.84), it was technically very accurate, ticking off all the boxes on how one should approach such a complex and note-laden work. Somehow it felt curiously uninvolving, as if note-for-note proficiency and accuracy had become sort of blasé. Standometer: ***
My view: He plays everything almost perfectly, but why does he not move me today?