So the Chopin Competition in Warsaw has been won by a Pole for the first time since KZ carried off the prize in 1975. Bart at The Well-Tempered Blog seems distinctly underwhelmed. Rafal Blechacz, 20, looks the part in this BBC report. But since I can't get interested enough in piano competitions at the moment even to watch one online, I can't offer an opinion on whether the prize was deserved. Some extremely sobering thoughts from Solo Piano blogger Lyudmila Chudinova, who was there.
I used to enjoy watching piano competitions. I even went to Leeds once (about 7 years ago, if I've counted right) to cheer on some friends who were participating, and I heard some wonderful playing...by people who didn't make it past the second round or, sometimes, even the first. The winner, I thought later, was also terrific. I went to a concert he gave at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and loved every minute of it. I believe he moved to the States. It's so long now since I heard of him giving a concert in the UK that I can't even remember his name. Was he that much better than those I went to cheer on? They, in some cases, are struggling to keep their heads above water. Some of them are struggling to have enough to eat. And frankly, the differential wasn't huge. I'm not sure it existed.
At Leeds I was able hear for the first time a marvellous young Romanian pianistLuiza Borac, who played Liszt sounding like a young Argerich. She's recording for the redoubtable Avie now and is starting to get the recognition she deserves. Did she get into the finals? No, of course not...How do they decide these things?!? All too often the wrong people get the prizes, and the right ones are left out in the cold. No wonder things in the music world need a shake up.
I'll only say this once: CORRUPTION KILLS ART. And piano competitions are full of it.