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KELLY FERJUTZ was at the
Cleveland International Piano Competition


It wasn't quite planned this way, but in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, 30 pianists were featured. Originally, from a field of more than 200 applicants, 35 musicians from 17 countries were invited to compete. Travel difficulties then winnowed the field to the total of 30 who were finally heard. What a marvelous array of talent was on display from 27 July through 7 August 2005 in Cleveland.

The preliminary rounds were very different this year from previous competitions -- here or elsewhere. The contestants each played through two rounds before any eliminations occurred.

A first round of up to 30 minutes was followed three days later by a second round of up to 35 minutes. At the contestant's discretion as to order, music was to include: one work or group of works by a baroque composer; one Chopin étude; one work of contestant's choice; one sonata by a classical composer other than Schubert; and one work or group of works by Chopin, Brahms or Schumann.

Only then was the first judging selection announced, and from 30, the field was reduced to eight. This round was up to 60 minutes in length, and was to consist of: one work or group of works by a 20th or 21st century composer (excluding Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Busoni, Debussy and Ravel); one work or group of works by a French impressionist composer and one work or group of works by a romantic composer.

At this point the eight became four, for the final, concerto round. The first three rounds had been held in the Bolton Theater of the Cleveland Play House, located about one mile west of Severance Hall, home of The Cleveland Orchestra. The two Steinway concert grands -- one from Hamburg, one from New York -- were accordingly moved along with the contestants, for two evenings of concertos accompanied by the world-class orchestra, conducted by Jahja Ling, now Music Director of the San Diego Symphony, but for 17 years, Resident Conductor of the orchestra. Mr Ling is a renowned concert pianist in his own right, providing an extra benefit to the young pianists.

An additional bonus for the audience (and orchestra musicians, to be sure) was that four different concertos would be heard. As it happened, there was Beethoven and a Russian concerto featured both nights. The 'final four' contestants, and their choice of concerto were: Spencer Myer, age 26, from the United States, playing the Beethoven 4th, and Sergey Kuznetsov, 27, from Russia, and the Prokofiev 3rd, both heard on Friday evening. On Saturday, Chu-Fang Huang, 23, of China, performed the Beethoven 2nd and was followed by the 21-year-old Stanislav Khristenko, also of Russia, playing the Rachmaninoff 3rd.

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Copyright © 8 August 2005 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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