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<<<  <<  -- 4 --  Julian Jacobson    BEETHOVEN'S SUPREMACY

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It so happened that the two most sophisticated and assured performances came at the end. Walid El Yafi, from Chetham's School, gave by some margin the most interesting and personal account of the Bagatelle, treating the opening as a second violin solo in a string quartet and indeed making me hear it in a way I had never previously considered, yet an entirely valid way (no pun intended). His Appassionata had plenty going for it too, with good sound and technical grasp. Was it 'appassionato'? I found some of it a little facile, as if he were afraid to enter into Beethoven's almost terrifying drama and urgency. Perhaps that's asking too much of a young player. Yet in the more Apollonian canvas of the Waldstein, the final pianist, David Secchi, from Wells Cathedral School, did not hold back from extreme statements, for instance in a daringly slow but wonderfully sustained account of the slow introduction to the finale -- one of Beethoven's most visionary passages, and he played it, as well as the magical opening of the rondo finale itself, with a real sense of vision and of its mysterious poetry. When he can trust himself to really fill out all of Beethoven's space, and keep an even tighter hold on rhythm, he will enter the realm of great Beethoven playing. This for me was the day's finest performance.

Ratimir Martinovic (left) and Alberto Portugheis. Photo © 2007 Julian Jacobson
Ratimir Martinovic (left) and Alberto Portugheis. Photo © 2007 Julian Jacobson

In recent articles in Gramophone magazine, musicians such as Haitink, Osmo Vänskä and David Zinman reasserted Beethoven's supremacy and relevance in a troubled world. On balance our young players seem to have got the message after all, despite the powerful claims of other composers (not only Mozart!) who enjoyed less prestige fifty years ago. The distinguished and experienced panel of judges, comprising Noretta Conci-Leech, Alberto Portugheis and Ratimir Martinovic, had no hesitation in awarding joint first prize to Walid El Yafi and David Secchi, dividing the second prize between Mandaktuja Dorj and Lin Yang while Fumi Sakuma was awarded third prize.

First prize winners Walid El Yafi (left) and David Secchi. Photo © 2007 Julian Jacobson
First prize winners Walid El Yafi (left) and David Secchi. Photo © 2007 Julian Jacobson

 

Copyright © 14 April 2007 Julian Jacobson, London UK

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MALCOLM MILLER REPORTS ON THE 2005 COMPETITION

HIDE AND SEEK - FINDING MOZART IN HIS IMAGE

REJECTED REVIEWS OR WORKS THAT GOT AWAY - BEETHOVEN

BEETHOVEN PIANO SOCIETY OF EUROPE

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