The Week in Reviews, Op. 134: Ayana Tsuji and Montreal Competition Finalists; Robert McDuffie, Leila Josefowicz

June 7, 2016, 12:05 PM · In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Ayana Tsuji performed the Sibelius in winning the Montreal International Violin Competition, with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

Montreal 2016 Finalists
Top Three Prizewinners in the Montreal International Violin Competition 2016: Bomsori Kim (2nd); Ayana Tsuji (1st) and Minami Yoshida (3rd). Photo by Tam Lan Truong, courtesy of CMIM.

Robert McDuffie performed the Glass Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Leila Josefowicz performed the Salonen with the National Symphony Orchestra.

The Interlochen Center for the Arts high school students performed with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center for the NY Phil Biennial.

Augustin Hadelich performed the Beethoven with the San Antonio Symphony.

Pekka Kuusisto performed the Nielsen with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Martin Riseley performed the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

Please support music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

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June 7, 2016 at 07:49 PM · The Strings review was the biggest load of B/S I've read in the last 10 years!

Listen to what she does, it's an AURALl art, her facial expressions and movements are irrelevant. She was very fine.

This is the problem in our visual age, the reviewers are totally deaf. (At least this one is).

June 7, 2016 at 08:43 PM · Hi,

Here is what Le Devoir said about Tsuji’s performance in its review (translated as best as possible - the language used is quite colourful and idiomatically French):

“And the music in all of this? There is none, as the largely boring evening on Tuesday revealed. The Japonese Ayana Tsuji, 18 years of age, impresses: she threw herself into a sort of painting of the Sibelius Concerto with saturated colours. In the long run, it gets boring: how do we do justice to a marking “con tutta forza” by Sibelius when everything is gorged with sound and extracted with forceps?

In essence, Tsuji is almost the violinistic clone of Mayuko Kamio (30 years old) who had won the Tchaikovsky in 2007, but flopped (5th prize only) the year before in Montréal, to the frustration of her Russian teachers, who, having failed to influences their colleagues on the jury, then left Montréal with their candidate boycotting the Gala. Ayana Tsuji has the profile of a competition winner. Elsewhere, I hope…

In the Sibelius, the last page of the second movement said it all. She seemed inconspicuous, because she is not a virtuoso, but it is there that, in the intimate moment, we have to create interesting sonorities. In comparison with Yoshida, Tsuji was in this passage, totally uninteresting.”

Really harsh. Don't know if I should have translated that, but there is a lot more than the first kind of strange opening to the review.

June 7, 2016 at 09:32 PM · I would have picked Petteri Livonen. His playing consistently made the most sense to my ears. I wasn't hugely wowed with Bomsori Kim, and there were some players that didn't make it to the final that I was surprised at. Then again, the level was so high and there was a sense of sameness that I felt like I was making such minute and pedantic comparisons. Solid field of candidates, in any case.

I wonder if more unknown names have to make a greater case for themselves than people more established from other competitions.

June 8, 2016 at 05:32 PM · Christian, thank you for the translation. The French review is almost comically catty; he wrote several reviews of this type and it caused a bit of a stir among those assembled in Montreal!

June 8, 2016 at 06:31 PM · Laurie- please share. ... Links to other reviews.... If there is a pattern, it would help to expose this critic.

June 9, 2016 at 03:36 AM · Well anyone can read his work and decide for themselves; some might prefer his style of frank assessment. It's not my style personally, nor did it ring true as far as what I saw, which were very fine performances by enormously hardworking young musicians. Here is a list of his stories and then here is another about Montréal.

June 9, 2016 at 06:59 PM · Hi Laurie,

You're welcome and thanks for the insight into the reviewer. I am not surprised that it would cause quite a stir from what I read.



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