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MOZART AND SCHUBERT LEAD OFF THE HONENS FINALS IN CALGARY: ILLIA OVCHARENKO PLAYS SUPERBLY
There have been ten semi-finalists after which three finalists on the Honens Piano Competitors in Calgary. Final night time, within the Bella Live performance Corridor on the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, Mount Royal College, the three surviving contestants performed Mozart and Schubert within the first of two evenings to resolve the winner. Every pianist was required to play one of many lesser Mozart concertos with a string quintet, then accompany a singer in a set of three Schubert Lieder. Tonight, within the concluding live performance they may every play an enormous Romantic concerto with the Calgary Philharmonic.
American pianist Rachel Breen led off the night taking part in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A significant Ok. 414 with the Viano String Quartet and bassist Sam Loeck. However earlier than a notice was performed Breen had irritated the viewers by endlessly fussing together with her piano bench. First she lowered it then she raised it. Then she had the bench eliminated and changed with one other one. Nevertheless it was discovered wanting too and required extra elevating and decreasing. Lastly, we heard some music. And it wasn’t excellent. This was faceless Mozart taking part in. Then got here extra Glenn Gouldian histrionics with Breen conducting together with her left hand when it was not required on the keyboard.
The finalists had to decide on one or different of a set of three Schubert songs. Breen select a bunch which included Gretchen am Spinnrade, Nacht und Träume, and Die junge Nonne. Once more, we heard extra routine piano accompaniments. Sadly, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó didn’t sound in any respect comfy together with her task.
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After a brief intermission, one other American pianist, Sasha Kasman Laude, took the stage to play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 in E flat main Ok. 449. Nearly instantly it turned clear that Laude had a much better grasp of what’s required in Mozart. There was extra power within the taking part in and far more rubato within the phrasing. Laude selected the identical Schubert group as Breen and once more introduced far more character to her accompaniments.
However the very best taking part in of the night was certainly by the Ukrainian Illia Ovcharenko. Like Breen Ovcharenko performed Mozart’s Ok. 414 however in his palms it was like a unique piece. There was pleasure within the taking part in, sparkle within the runs, and brilliance within the cadenzas. Ovcharenko additionally caught the playfulness of the final motion much better than Breen.
Then got here the Schubert. Ovcharenko selected a unique set of songs: Die Forelle, Du Bist die Ruh and Der Erkönig. In every of those songs one marvelled at what Ovcharenko was doing. One hardly wanted a textual content to think about trout leaping out of the water in Die Forelle, and a extra thrilling Erlkönig one might hardly think about. And Krisztina Szabó had not sounded this good all night time. Apparently, the chemistry between Szabó and Ovcharenko introduced out the very best in her. Ovcharenko is already an distinctive artist and clearly has the within observe heading into the ultimate part of the competitors.
All through the night the Viano String Quartet, co-winners on the 2019 Banff Worldwide String Quartet Competitors, and bass Sam Loeck had been exemplary companions for the three finalists within the Mozart concertos. And a particular shout-out for bassist Sam Loeck, principal bassist of the Calgary Philharmonic. This was world-class bass taking part in. I’ve not heard something prefer it for years. This younger man produces nearly probably the most lovely sound I’ve ever heard from a string bass, he has outstanding approach, and his phrasing is pure magic. I’m afraid that Calgary goes to have a troublesome time hanging on to Sam Loeck.