Jaques Samuel- Fazioli Intercollegiate Piano Competition-Wigmore Hall

Jaques Samuel Fazioli Intercollegiate Piano Competition – Wigmore Hall
Jaques Samuel Intercollegiate Piano Competition at the Wigmore Hall today…….winner Jonathan Ferrucci from the Guildhall .
Sorry to have arrived too late to hear only the last piece of the first competitor who was in fact the winner . A beautiful performance of the set piece “The poet speaks ” from Schumann’s Kinderszenen.
Working from the bass upwards with a solid sense of structure as one would expect from a student of Joan Havill .I was sorry to have missed his Bach Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, Franck’s Prelude choral and fugue and the Bartok Sonata especially as I heard from a jury member afterwards what an intelligent musician he was as was evident even in the little set piece by Schumann.
James Guan from the RAM gave a very musicianly performance of Mozart’s Sonata K.333 and a virtuoso performance of Rachmaninoff’s Moments musicaux op 16 .Hampered by not really coming to terms with a bright Fazioli piano (Fazioli was one of the main sponsors)he produced some rather hard rather than full sounds especially in the sumptuous sound world that Rachmaninoff creates.
However this not easy piano could be tamed as Ilya Kondratiev showed us all in a really great performance of the Liszt Sonata . Not impeccable but with a sweep and passion allied to an intelligence that one has come to expect from a student of Vanessa Latarche at the RCM .He could,maybe , have taken a little more time in certain moments to allow us to savour the overall picture that he had so magically created and also he himself could have savoured the silences more ,but those are only small details in such a remarkable performance.Some really beautiful sounds not easily found on this piano made us realise what a truly grand piano this Fazioli could be in the right hands.His Schumann too played with a simple musicality that allowed the music to speak for itself as the title decrees .His Beethoven played with great character but here he too had not quite judged yet the real voice of the piano before him.
Oda Voltersvik also showed us what beautiful sounds there were in this piano in the right hands.Never a harsh or shrill sound or a moments doubt in a very difficult Shostakovich Second Sonata that I had not heard since Gilels played it at the Festival Hall in a sparsely frequented Schubert and Shostakovich recital……and I well remember the master getting completely lost in this very complex sonata.Never a moments doubt for her though either musically or in any other way in a refreshingly beautifully shaped Ballade in G minor by Grieg. Her Schumann a little too fussy to allow the music to speak for itself but some really beautiful sounds from this student of Trinity Laban Conservatoire.
All in all some remarkable performances from all four colleges and it must have been very difficult to judge an outright winner but in the end a very distinguished jury decided on Jonathan Ferrucci .A jury consisting of Hamish Milne,Ruth Nye,Peter Uppard,Peter Tuite ,Stuart Mitchell and of course last but certainly not least inspired by the indefatigable Terence Lewis managing director of Jaques Samuel’s Pianos ever ready to help young talents find and audience .
Very nice to speak to Peter Uppard ,after all these years. We were both students of Gordon Green at the RAM and I still remember Peter’s remarkable Wigmore debut with Beethoven op 109 and the Liszt Sonata which he tells me has just been reissued on CD . Hats off to all four colleges for sustaining and encouraging such remarkable talent .

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