Leeds International Piano Competition 2012
The Leeds, as it as has become affectionately known, is one of the most prestigious piano competitions staged anywhere in the world. The first winner was crowned back in 1963 and since then the tournament has grown in stature year upon year to become of the world’s most renowned classical music prizes. The orchestral accompaniment for this year’s edition has been supplied by the wonderful Halle Orchestra from Manchester and the level of sheer ability on display has been simply breathtaking. Here are some of our reviews and videos from the competition.
Our Finalist Reviews
This year’s youngest performer was China’s Jiayan Sun, 22 years old might not seem all that young but when you consider the level of musician that we are witnessing and when you consider that some of the other performers are 5 years older than him, it starts to seem a fairly juvenile age. To compound things further, Jiayan has chosen one of the most difficult pieces in the modern piano repertoire. Some would consider Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 2 a bit of a risky choice for The Leeds but as the following video demonstrates, this young man has a great deal of talent indeed. Judge for yourself by watching the video below of the opening movement and remember to let us know what you think with a comment at the bottom of this page.
Australian pianist Jayson Gillham chose Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, subtitled The Emperor, a macho and bold choice indeed. The composer poses one major question with this piece, “can the heroism and nobility of one person change our world for the better”, it’s one man versus the orchestra and one lone voice against the world. Jayson’s playing was very lyrical and beautiful in it’s presentation and it was noticeable that the orchestra were enjoying the performance as much as the audience. However, something of a “swagger” was perhaps missing from this performance, something which may actually suit this work, but perhaps not the best choice for a competition which features this level of pianist. More fireworks and drama are required to properly answer the above question in my opinion. Watch the short video below of the opening refrains and decide for yourselves.
Twenty four year old Louis Schwizgebel from Switzerland selected Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Number 4 for his performance in the final. A bit of a theme is developing which you might have already noticed as Beethoven really is a favourite of the concert pianist. This piece is no exception with an exposed opening which does away with the idea of a big orchestral overture. Louis was quoted in his pre-performance interview as saying that he wasn’t that interesting in winning the contest and was much more concerned with putting on a rousing show. Again though, his rendition lacked a certain amount of energy which is required to stand out from the crowd and he certainly looked nervous on stage until the last movement. Louis was faithful to the score in many respects and this sort of musicianship goes a long way but perhaps will not be enough to win him the title. Judge for yourself by watching the video below which features the opening of the concerto from the final.