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Laurie Niles

2013 Montreal International Musical Competition: Finals, Day 1

May 15, 2013 at 4:03 PM

The sun appeared in Montreal Tuesday; it was actually setting as I walked over to the Place des Artes for the Montreal International Musical Competition finals, in which six young violinists will play their final concerto with orchestra, over the course of two days.

Place des Arts

Tuesday performances featured Chi Li, 19, of Taiwan; Ji Young Lim, 18, of South Korea; and Marc Bouchkov, 22, of Belgium. You can listen to those performances on the CBC website, where tonight's performances also will be webcast, beginning at 7:30 ET. Tonight's performances will include Zeyu Victor Li, 16, of China; Fédor Roudine, 20, of France; and Stephen Waarts, 16, of the United States. All the candidates will play with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, with guest conductor Maxim Vengerov.

Here are some highlights from Tuesday's performances, which took place at Montreal's Maison symphonique ("Symphony House") against the backdrop of 13 flags, representing the countries of the 24 candidates who participated in the Montreal International Musical Competition:

Maison symphonique

* * *
First on Tuesday night was Chi Li, 19, of Taiwan, who played the Tchaikovsky Concerto, with a very appealing vibrato and well-calculated sense of timing:

Chi Li

* * *

Next, Ji Young Lim, 18, of South Korea played the Brahms Violin Concerto, her performance picking up energy and momentum as she went along. The first movement ended with beautiful poignance, and if I could personally give her a prize for "string-crossing technique," I would. Also, hats off to the Orchestre symphonique's oboist, whose beautiful solo opened the second movement.


* * *

As happens in competitions, we will be hearing a lot of the same concerto: four Tchaikovsky concertos and two Brahms! Tonight was a two-Tchaikovsky night: Marc Bouchkov, 22, of Belgium closed the evening with a playful and competent performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto. His awareness of and involvement in the orchestra part gave off a feeling of happy camaraderie and music-making, as he channeled the drama by nodding to this section or that, showing how the violin was answering the cellos section's question, or playing along in parts of the orchestral tuttis.

Marc Bouchkov

Again, here are all those performances on the CBC website. Happy listening!

* * *

And on a different note, I'm really enjoying Montreal, and I'm attempting to speak more French. Here are a few pictures from my adventures. First, Les tulipes:

Spring in Montreal

And many thanks to longtime member Christian Vachon, for leading me to perhaps the best coffee in North America, at Pikolo Café. I'm holding a ristretto latte, they call it a "Pikolo latte." Très bien!

Cafe Pikolo

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on May 15, 2013 at 9:37 PM
Hi, again thank you very much for this nice review and beautiful pictures! I'm very anxious to see who they will choose... Must be a very difficult choice.

I had to smile at your Pikolo picture as it reminded me souvenirs. Actually the building I used to live in is in the picture... I do not live there anymore so I do not mind saying :) I had a view on Mount Royal, which was my absolute favorite place to go! (a beautiful green space in the city)

If you can go on Mount Royal (just behind these towers), the view of Montreal on the top of this mountain is very beautiful and the walking paths are very user friendly. You can have access to the mountain by many streets.

If you love nature, the Botanical Garden and Biodôme (various animals living inside what was the bycicle indoors tracks during the Montreal Olympics) are a must! But they are a little further East and not Downtown like Mount Royal and Place de Arts...

Good finals!

From Christian Vachon
Posted on May 16, 2013 at 10:53 AM
Hi Laurie,

Thanks and you're welcome! I am really glad that you enjoyed the Café Pikolo! I love that place, and make a special detour to go there anytime I am in or near Montréal!

Cheers and thanks for all the great reporting about the competition!

From Christina C.
Posted on May 16, 2013 at 2:35 PM
forgot to mention this before, but the Montreal Chamber Music Festival is going on right now. I'm only making it to 2 concerts this year, but they've got great stuff.

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