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Adrian Demian

Queen Elisabeth Finals - rush of passion, well practiced steadiness and fatigue this fourth evening

May 24, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Andrey Baranov made some real music today. His Prokofiev was mostly solid (less some bow control issues in the second movement) and he seemed in command during the Kenji piece.
His first movement of the Shostakovitch was also very musical. I liked the way he listened and played with and from the sound of the orchestra. Something I heard for the first time in these finals. On the other hand I would have liked better tuning for the double stops.
Unfortunately, the second movement was a disaster waiting to happen at every corner. Andrey pushed the tempo in the first measures but it was obvious the initial tempo chosen by maestro Varga was the correct one when Andrey started struggling with the theme a few measures later. At times, it was quite hard to recognize what was going on.
The Passacaille showed again Andrey's musicality but also the results of fatigue. Again, playing at, or even beyond his own tempo limits in the Burlesque, while it did bring the standing ovations of the audience, I am not sure scored him high points with the jury. At least I hope not.
Dami Kim's Bartok sonata didn't do anything for me. Her well practiced, extremely exact way of playing did not go together with Bartok's passionate music. There was none of the emotion, earthiness and relentless passion one would expect to hear in such a piece.
In Kenji's concerto, Kim's only concern seemed to be to play all the notes and the signs. I could hear none of Baranov's colors or Narita's drive, clarity and sense of articulation. Quite a bland performance in which the orchestra almost ate her alive.
With Narita's brilliant Paganini from Tuesday on one side, and Andrey's passionate playing earlier today on the other side, Kim's Paganini had the flavor of a school performance: a brilliant school mind you, but a school level performance nevertheless.Well rehearsed, her performance lacked originality and the few attempts she made to bring a musical aspect to the music seemed pasted on and unconvincing. She, as others before her, fell victim to fatigue. Being such a victim while playing Paganini did not help at all. I felt quite sorry for her tonight.

From Parth Doshi
Posted on May 25, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Thank you for this post. It shows a great insight for the what the judges must be thinking/looking for. I've always wondered how judges chose a winner for the competition, when there are so many great performers. Maybe that's why the 1,2,3... prizes are so close in value.
From Simon Streuff
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 1:02 PM
have you heard shishkov? i didnt make it and still not online. Nancy Zhuo was sometimes good, but she seemed very stressed out..
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 2:09 PM
Simon, you can still watch their final performance, intro and interview here (just click the right panel drop down list):

From Simon Streuff
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 2:32 PM
THX! I am listening now, Its now up on official site. Shishkov played amazing brahms and the commissioned piece. Struggled a little in tshaik first, still amazing places! I am now into 2. mvt.
From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 2:40 PM
@ Simon
Artiom was so tired today! I am still to listen to his sonata - due to computer problems - but the rest of his program was not brilliant by all means. The Kenji was a forced jumble and the Tchaikovsky, while full of very musical moments, was also full of little blemishes (especially in the first movement) which seemed to annoy even Artiom himself. His playing was uncomfortable during the second movement (which he chose to play muted). The orchestra tried its best not to cover him but he still had to apply quite a bit of pressure with negative effect on his sound quality. His third movement was a bit too fast to be musical. Such a pity.
Nancy Zhou delivered the second good Kenji in the finals. I could understand the rhythm, the structure of the music and I could make out some of its formal features even. Her sound had no issue soaring over the orchestra, and the ensemble felt comfortable playing with her.
Nancy's Prokofiev shined the most in the second and last movements. Her huge sound and relentless energy were quite suited for these two movements, and Mr. Vitaud, the pianist, was a fantastic partner. The first and third movement showed that Nancy still has some growing up to do. She lacked the subtlety and sound palette needed for these two jewels.
What a pity that maestro Varga was not more in control of the winds in the coda of the first movement of Sibelius! Nancy caught up with the rushing clarinets and flutes like a well seasoned soloist though. As in Prokofiev, in Sibelius she shined most on on very energetic passages, but her playing fell short on anything that required soulful involvement.
Nancy is a great competitor. She is solid, mentally strong and hard to beat. Is she an artist yet? Does she have in her that something that will attract audiences outside of the competition world? I think it is too early to know this. How does one judge her playing? How to decide to start her on a career without knowing whether she will grow to be a true artist or not? Right now I see a great violinist with huge potential, but not an artist.
From Simon Streuff
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 2:58 PM
I am not sure about the flute place in Nancys sibelius, I had the impression she started the coda very fast and slowed down during arpeggios.
Yes, Shishkov was tired in Tschaik. but listen to his Brahms, it was two classes better. His Kenji piece I liked. but maybe I am biased because I like his style. But I think he did the same fault like others. he overpowered the kenji and destroyed his feeling and technical brilliance needed minutes later in the tschaik. He had many out of tune notes in unnecessary places, in other difficult places he excelled in my opinion and his sound in some places was the best i heard so far in competition. (for example the end of 2. movement tschaik, when it goes up). I am sure he will take no price, but I am happy to finally listen to him in a big concert again... after 6 years. He is always totally worth listening to. And I am still impressed that he mastered the tempo of the third mvt. tschaik in that shape he was in. I wish him good regeneration and hopefully some nice invitations to concerts.
From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 3:26 PM
Simon, I would only pay to go and listen live to Artiom and Narita. They are true artists! Artiom's sound at the beginning of the third movement of Brahms almost made me cry it was so beautiful. I am sorry he was so tired and he seemed annoyed with the coughing audience during Brahms. He missed to many upward shifts due to fatigue.
I have to admit, I am playing a game. I am trying to listen with a judging ear and to comment likewise. I am trying to leave my personal preferences as much out of the picture as I can. I do like Shishkov as much as I detest Baranov as a continuator of the Repin tradition of brainless bear-style Russian playing which I find completely unmusical and offensive to any sense of good taste.
I am still waiting and rooting for Tseng today. His performance in the semi finals was just outstanding. I am curios how he will be able to stay on top of the Brahms concerto at the end of such a taxing competition.
From Simon Streuff
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 4:03 PM
glad you enoyed the brahms of artiom. It was good he made the coughers shut up. I dont know why people dont get the idea of "silence!!!" between the movements. Very uncultivated and unmusical.
Artioms sound in Brahms even surprised me. At that point I thought he could make a place in the third tree. it was just awesome.
Yes, its hard to seperate between professional objective judging and personal taste and sympathy. I am very interested how the jury decides. As far as my experience goes in competition the first three will be Spacek, Bouchkow and some asian. Of course I am not really thinking that, but I will never be surprised anymore of jurys decisions in big competitions.
From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 4:13 PM
Simon, If Bouchkov makes it on the podium it is going to be a sad day for violinists everywhere. He is so average it is painful! Su's Sibelius on Tuesday was much better than Spacek's.
From Simon Streuff
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 5:15 PM
I was just joking ;) I mean, sometimes it seems very random to me... hoping the best still

From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 5:30 PM
Simon, phew, :) You scared me! Yes, let's hope for the best!

From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 6:35 PM
Esther's Mendelssohn sonata was the best! Amazingly good choice and great, youthful energy!
From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 8:54 PM
Another brilliant Kenji from Yu-Chien! So in command of tone, rhtym, dynamics, and with a sense of humor on top. He is my idol!

From Marina Akimova
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Anybody? any news?
Here in Moscow we don't have a word of it. The site of QE seems to be fallen.
From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 11:34 PM
2Tatsuki Narita
3Yun Su Shin
4Esther Yoo
5Yu-Chien Tseng
6Artiom Shishkov
From Marina Akimova
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Thank you, Adrian!
It's a pity that Shishkov is only the 6th...
From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I agree with the names of the first six. I think the selection was spot on! I am not sosure about the order. I think Esther Yoo did better than Yun Su Shin, and Yu-Chien better than both girls.
As for Baranov winning, it is hard to say anything. I dislike his music making but that doesn't mean what he does is not valid. I can see why they gave him the first prize - even past the politics involved.
From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 26, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I agree Marina. Shishkov is a true musician. He was amazing in the Brahms sonata and had some of the most exquisite sound in the whole competition.
From Simon Streuff
Posted on May 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I agree with you adrian about Baranov, I also somehow dislike his always very wide vibrato and flattering sound. But I think he deserves it. I disagree with you about chien, because I found his finals more on the secure side. If he can play like that with some more expression and risk, I think he was better then the other asian girls. But most places I thought he played like an etude, very good, but still with his thoughts at the technique.
I like that the jury gave hyun su shin the third. Her recital was amazing and her sibelius also very musical and secure.
I haven't watched Yoos finale yet. I will see tomorrow.
I am happy that Artiom Shishkov got a price! Even if its only the 6th price. He made an impression to people, thats more important. Reading his name here in comments and that people care about him especially makes me believe in hope. I always hoped that he will return after he didnt come into finals in hannover. I feared that he was about to give up about his carreer. It will still be tough, but a 6th price in QE competition is a good start and a strong reference.
If I should decide between Baranov and Shishkov, Shishkov is the decisiv winner. But I really don't care about the order of 2nd.-5th places. I only think Narita Tatsuki was way more amazing than Baranov.
From Adrian Demian
Posted on May 27, 2012 at 12:50 AM
It is a great pleasure to read everything you write. I agree with you said. I liked Chien's performance of the Kenji concerto and he seemed in command throughout the program. He did seem tired toward the end of the Brahms but fought to the end. This being said, I still agree with you about his performance.
I also liked Su Shin's Sibelius. I just don't like her undifferentiated vibrato.
I hope Shishkov will have a great career ahead. He so deserves it!
And, yes! Narita was the real winner. What a Paganini!
I still have to watch Esther's Beethoven concerto but I liked her sonata choice and the way she delivered it.
From Simon Streuff
Posted on May 27, 2012 at 8:35 AM
Thank you too for sharing your thoughts and informations. It has been a pleasure for me!
From Joyce Lin
Posted on May 27, 2012 at 8:55 PM
I'm of course not a sophisticated critique, but as an audience, some passages in Yu-Chien's Brahms made me teary-eyed. Judging from that he also won audience awards from both RTBF and VRT, I'm not alone. Having been keeping an eye on his development for several years, it's amazing how much he has grown as a musician in such a short time - the difference between his Brahms last year at the Isang Yun Competition and this one is already night and day. He is my idol too. :)

I also appreciate Artiom's musicality.

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