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Finally our two Hungarian visitors, Agnes Kallay and Katalin Czillagh from Budapest, stood before us -- already at 25 both of them distinguished graduates of the Franz Liszt Academy. Agnes, who in 2004 won First Prize in the 12th Alps Adria International Cello Competition in Gorizia, now studies at the Cologne Hochschule für Musik while Katalin, who played her own compositions aged ten in the Great Hall of the Liszt Academy and in 1999 won the EPTA UK Piano Competition, is on a DAAD Scholarship at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Despite their many solo engagements and competitions, they have never once ceased playing chamber music together and in 2004 were among the top ten in the Maria Canals Competition in Barcelona. Theirs was a repeat of the Op 102 No 2 heard earlier but now with a professionalism and steely control that had been wanting previously, never more so than in the often bumpy writing of the fugue which they fused into a cumulative hierarchy of overarching phrase-shapes.

First prizewinners and jury. Photo © 2007 Fiona Clarey
First prizewinners and jury. Photo © 2007 Fiona Clarey

As Martin passed me on his way to give his verdict, he said, as if in joke: 'Who should we choose?' and I, never failing with an answer, replied: 'How can you doubt -- the two all-female duos who, between them, summed up the best of duo-playing from early to late Beethoven!' Never did I think that a casual remark of mine would be confirmed by the Jury's decision -- only that, rather than first and second prizes, the First Prize would be shared, a wise move since each Duo was 'sans pareil'. So, to general jubilation, ended the 2007 best-ever Beethoven Chamber Music Masterclass and Competition -- now all that remains is for the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe to find recital dates for the two first-prize winning duos: one date is already in the bag for the Kallay/Csillagh Duo at the Hungarian Cultural Institute on 8 October 2007 while that for the Ishizuka/Si Chen Duo will be announced shortly.

Copyright © 5 June 2007 Malcolm Troup, London UK



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