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In defence of Eugene.

May 28, 2007 at 10:58 PM

I wrote this blog to give prominence to what I felt was an unfair response to Eugenes enjoyable commentary on the Sendai competition.

With all due respect to the four who sent it, I thought the following was lacking in thought and somewhat impolite.
>From four of the Sendai International Music Competition contestants: Are you a musician?

It is quite obvious from his writing that Eugene is a musician or at least, that he knows his music.

>In order to judge honestly and fairly you need to speek from the perspective of a contestant of any major violin competition

Utter nonsense!
First of all, Eugene`s comments are completely honest and fair as far as the medium allows. There is nothing destructive or impolite about what he wrote. If the four of you can`t take that level of commentary then you won`t survive in the music business for long. Then, why does he have to speak from the perspective of a contestant? I challenge you to think a little more carefully about that.
It is you who are standing up on stage and offering your talent and gifts for the enjoyment of others from -their- perspective, and if the message recieved is one of boredom, albeit through a limited medium, then that is your problem and it is worth taking home as a lesson in either how to change things so that you come across better or accept that some things cannot be changed and learn to live with it. It is not up to you to tell people how to receive your message.
Rather it is for you to accept this is how someone reacted and move on from there because that is all we can hope for in any medium of human communciation.It actually takes some humbleness.

Full marks to Eugene. Keep it up!

From Maura Gerety
Posted on May 28, 2007 at 11:05 PM
Bravo Buri, I completely agree.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on May 28, 2007 at 11:38 PM
I agree.

I don't think four of the contestants actually said something. I think the writer was taking license, as if he was prefacing something financial with "From your banker:". Eugene had written about four contestants.

Their stream is lousy, but the audio is still better than anything anybody recorded to prior to the '80s. It bugs me that they're using a proprietary format which doesn't buffer on your drive, but I'm reading that it's a common one in Asian countries.

From Eugene Chan
Posted on May 29, 2007 at 1:06 AM
Thanks for the kind words and defense, Buri.

I'm reminded of a story from the 2005 Cliburn piano competition. As many of you probably know, the Cliburn is in the top tier of international competitions on the piano side of things: the grand prize includes three years of concert management and about 300 engagements over those three years. Anyway, the Cliburn is a very well-run competition, and was covered quite extensively, at least as far as coverage of music competitions usually go, by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which can hardly be described as a small newspaper, and by a running blog, set up by the Cliburn Foundation and written by a previous participant in the Cliburn amateur competition.

Now, it so happened that both the blogger and the Star-Telegram were particularly hard on one candidate who had reached the finals of the competition. Both complained that the pianist's playing came from the school of "let the music speak for itself": it was "flawless but arctic" (which is a description with which I don't disagree entirely, either).

Somewhere in the middle of the finals, one of the commenters on the blog noted that the Star-Telegram was pulling quotes from the blog to use in the paper. In the ensuing discussion, it was learnt that this pianist apparently read every word printed in the Star-Telegram. A minor debate followed, in which a very important point arose: any competitor who touches a newspaper or reads coverage of the competition during the competition is at least partially crazy. And if it affects his playing, he's not ready for 300 concerts in three years. At the very least, he certainly doesn't deserve the gold medal.

But the pianist was Alexander Kobrin, and if his reading about himself in the paper was affecting him at all, it certainly wasn't affecting his playing. He ended up winning the competition, and it just goes to show you what amateur critics like me know. :-)

As I've said before, anybody can feel free to call me an idiot for what I write. The only right I reserve is to actually write it.

P.S. @Jim, a friend of mine and I (both of us are computer science majors at UBC) tried to take apart the format they're using yesterday. We ended up determining that it was some bastardized format of VSSH.264 over AVI, but after about two or three hours of trying to figure out the exact format, we gave up. It's a shame, too, because all they're just going to do is take it down after a few months.

From Eugene Chan
Posted on May 29, 2007 at 2:50 AM
By the way, if I may please apologize for the hurried and disorganized prose. I just had a substantial amount of blood withdrawn for tests this afternoon, and I'm pretty sure it's hampering my ability to proofread what I'm writing. Suffice it to say, I hardly feel strong enough to listen to another three Prokofievs and a Bartók, so I'll probably write something more tomorrow.
From Maura Gerety
Posted on May 29, 2007 at 1:12 PM
I kind of liked Kobrin's playing, actually. I can see how people considered it "flawless but arctic", but to me it came across as the best possible kind of that playing. To me he just sounded very intellectual and scholarly, not necessarily detached or unemotional. But what do I know about piano playing? I can hardly play three bars of Liszt. :)
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on May 29, 2007 at 4:03 PM
"but after about two or three hours of trying to figure out the exact format, we gave up."

This is for kids. By which I mean I don't have the energy to do it anymore. I'll just save my yens up and buy the offical dvd with a copy of the program and official tear-stained pillow :)

From Eugene Chan
Posted on May 29, 2007 at 5:05 PM
Maura, you're bang-on with your evaluation, I think. It was very much the best possible performance from the "Pollini school" of piano. It just so happens that some people hate that style of playing. Personally, I think it works better for some things than for others; in my opinion, Pollini has the definitive recording of Pétrouchka, for example.

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