Second Round of Classic Piano 2024 Gets Underway
Following the conclusion of the first phase, the second round of the 2024 Classic Piano International Competition has now begun, with the first group of pianists from amongst the 35-participant cohort taking to the stage of the Zabeel Theatre at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel in Dubai.
Over the next few days, each of the competitors will be presenting a number of works from the competition's expansive repertoire. With performances required to last anywhere between 45 to 50 minutes, the pianists will need to present a complete piano sonata by either Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, or Franz Schubert; at least one composition from Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Cesar Franck, or Modest Mussorgsky, and a composition written after 1900.
Judging each of the performers will be the competition’s 15-member jury board, which is composed of Ashley Wass (UK), Zhe Tang (China), Hüseyin Sermet (Turkey), Marios Papadopoulos (UK), Giuliano Mazzoccante (Italy), Hae-Young Kim (South Korea), Stanislav Ioudenitch (USA), Eleanor Hope (Austria), François-Frédéric Guy (France), Pavel Gililov (Austria), Peter Donohoe (UK), Kirsten Dawes (South Africa/Germany), Epifanio Comis (Italy), Massimiliano Caldi (Italy), and Gisèle Ben-Dor (USA/Israel).
“The experience here has been all very positive so far”, said Papadopoulos. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for a lot of young pianists who will want to pursue a career. A competition of course is a pathway towards achieving that. We’ve heard some wonderful pianists and it’s a magnificent place to gather everybody here in Dubai, and yeah, we’re very much enjoying it. The level, I think, is as would be expected. There are a lot of very fine talents from all over the world, which is of course, very gratifying to witness.”
Donohoe, his colleague on the jury, agreed, remarking that “I’ve done a lot of competitions and this is unusually long, and very, very well planned and very carefully worked out, and it’s very impressive, I think it’s extremely impressive. It’s the first time I've ever been to Dubai, and it’s a crazy experience to see that and to actually experience the atmosphere. I can’t really comment on the level, I shouldn’t say anything at this point, but I think it’s always much higher level generally these days than it was maybe 40 years ago when I was competing, because what tended to happen then was rather interesting that people were rather on an extremely high level or on rather a low level, so there wasn't much in the middle, whereas now I have to say the majority are in the middle. So it’s quite difficult to see the very highs and the very lows, but you know, the level is fantastic.”
Following the conclusion of this phase, the jury will be drawing up the list of successful applicants who will be progressing to the next stage, which, unlike the first two phases, will not be a recital but will see the pianists performing alongside an orchestra. Here, the young musicians will be presenting a total of two concertos – the Piano concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Suite for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 ‘From My Bookshelf’ from Alexey Shor and Mikhail Pletnev.
The next round with the orchestra will be very important,” Donohoe continued, “because when they [the participants] play alone, they're not being tested on their experience really. Musical experience of course but not practical experience. At this stage quite a lot of people don't have any experience. Of course I don't know which ones they will be because I can't tell. You really can't tell from the solo playing how that will be, but apart from anything else how you rehearse it with an orchestra, the technique of rehearsal and that sort of thing, it starts to show, and of course that's a big learning curve. I think it's great that it's not just the final that is all about that. I think that's very important because with so many competitions you just have solo stuff until the very last round, and then suddenly it all changes because there's an orchestra there and it's a completely different set of priorities. So that makes it very hard. To have it twice and involving different repertoire and earlier on in the competition is really great. It's a very good idea.”