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Mandaktuja Dorj, from the Junior Royal Academy, is a young pianist very caught up in the physical delight of playing. I found her movements rather distracting, and I was not sure how much they were really helping her, but there was no mistaking her commitment and musicality (if occasional untidiness) in the Bagatelle. She elected to play the 32 Variations in C minor rather than a sonata. In a way it's even harder to make a convincing structural entity of Beethoven's variation sets than of his sonatas, where, as it were, he has done so much of the work for us. Mandaktuja didn't quite have the mastery to pull them together, but she is certainly a dramatic and personal performer.

Dominic Konieczny, from Junior London College, may yet become such a performer; he has good hands and his Bagatelle was unpretentious and quite musical. But an incomplete Les Adieux Sonata showed him not yet ready for the fray. The same has to be said of Kirsty Traynor, from Junior Royal Scottish Academy, who offered only the first movement of the Pathétique (nevertheless in good tempo and with sound rhythmic grasp).

From the Junior Royal Northern College, Lin Yang offered a fluent Bagatelle a little lacking in personal commitment, followed by an account of the E flat Sonata Op 31 No 3 that was well-nigh perfect in terms of the actual notes (with an enviably cool cross-hands coda to the finale -- a passage where I've sometimes wished I were somewhere else!). If her playing lacks Beethovenian humour and vigour as yet (indeed it was somewhat Mozartean), it's certainly full of promise and already realised technical accomplishment.

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Copyright © 14 April 2007 Julian Jacobson, London UK


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