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Well, ya don't hear a Rach 3 like that every day.

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Well, Lim certainly knows how to dazzle an audience. I think he will probably win the competition, or second place at worst. He is what competitions (and audiences) are looking for - someone who can demonstrate prodigious talent and accomplishment and deliver the goods every time.

And yet, he doesn’t really speak to me. His performance seems just a little self-focused. I grew up with romantic aesthetic of projecting a singing line. There were too many passages where the accompanying figuration overwhelmed the line, as if to demonstrate that he can indeed play all the notes loud and fast. I often had to strain to pick out the melody and could only do so because I know the piece. He could play with a good dynamic balance at times, but it was inconsistent. And it seems like a constant component of his phrasing style is to build to the top of the phrase, only to pause and drop the dynamic level at the top. As I mentioned before about another competitor, when used sparingly, this can be an effective nuance, but it quickly cloys.

I found Stephenson’s performance more maturely passionate and more in the romantic tradition of big tone floated above the accompanying passagework. He seemed more warmly human to me, and that means a lot. Shmukler redeemed himself somewhat from the other night with a solid Grieg Concerto that contained some really beautiful moments.

Again, I think Lim will probably win. He knows how to thrill and impress. It’s exciting to behold, but it wouldn’t be a satisfying daily diet for me.

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I like Clayton's overall tone and musicality. For me, though, it seemed like a lot of little ensemble things (that were not entirely his fault) detracted too much from the performance. Shmukler, again, has gorgeous tone, especially in the quieter playing. But I don't think the Grieg had enough wow factor for this competition.

While I admire tonal considerations and romantic phrasing, I do tend to have ears for detail and figuration, and like such "fussy" players as Lim (though I did manage to criticize him earlier for "clipped" playing in a Mozart sonata). And Lim's concerti hooked me along, listening in real time. One can go back and dissect vids, but I'm not aware of the jury being able to do that. Also, there's a certain confidence that Lim gives to the listener that he won't screw up, so you're not constantly poised to pounce on errors. Choni has that quality too, but he did manage to have problems in the Prokofiev.

Anna should be interesting in the last group, and it will be fun to hear the Tchaikovsky, for once.


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Stephenson unfortunately had a mistimed entry at the very end of the last movement of Rach 3, it was glaring and capped of a competent but not captivating reading.

ilya Shmuckler's Grieg was his best concerto performance of the 3 he's given so far. His tempos in the opening movement were too mannered for my taste, but the cadenza was dispatched with visceral excitement and overall it was a solid reading.

As expected, young Lim delivered. Not just technically, but he had a grasp on the whole arc of the concerto and played brilliantly, despite the orchestra not being totally in synch with his conception. his was a kaleidoscope of colors, a fever pitch of excitement designed to bring the house down, which he did. Played the original cadenza, which while far less dramatic than the longer ossia cadenza, still punched the right buttons at the end. The ensuing Intermezzo was passionate, ingratiating playing. The final movement--just wow. Through it all, this youngster kept his cool amid all the visceral excitement he was generatng.

I still believe in Choni, but Lim comes in very close behind. Either one would satisfy me for the top prize. Choni by a smidgen, if only for his Mozart, which was a shade better than Lim's. But Choni has yet to play the Beethoven, so it is still up in the air.

Last edited by BeeZee4; 06/18/22 02:23 AM.

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I would be shocked if Lim doesn’t win. They are playing for second now. The live audience seems to agree.

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So, barring any major disasters today I think it's safe to make a prediction. But first, last night:

Stephenson - Man, the potential is there. He definitely has it in him to be a concert artist. The issue is that he just needs to do this a few more times in order to be on the same level as the other competitors (see below). I was surprised that he held it together pretty well (don't mean that negatively) given the orchestra and all, but there were still too many moments of insecurity both in his solo part as well as how he judged the entrances (notably at the very end when he was way early). Maybe he hasn't played this piece with orchestra before? In any case, he'll have a bright future.

Shmukler - The Grieg Concerto has a reputation for being both easy (it is not) and cheesy (it is not); it's actually quite virtuosic, is an imaginative piece, and has some amazingly beautiful melodies - that's why everyone plays it! Shmukler brought his own interpretation to the piece, bringing out the folk characteristics beautifully. The third movement was the best and he brought it to a strong finish. Will it be enough to get him into the top 3? I doubt it, but it was a good closing argument both for the piece as well as his time at the Cliburn.

Lim - God-tier competition playing, up there with Cho in the finals of the Chopin competition. Who can play this well under pressure? Not only that, but he somehow figured his way around MA and the FWSO and didn't have a single ensemble issue the entire time - incredible! There are a few videos of him playing this already, and his experience shows. The smaller cadenza was actually a treat (Hough and Argerich play it, as does Rach on his recording, personally I never liked the big one), and he absolutely slayed the last movement. The audience went insane, and rightfully so. You'll probably never hear this piece played as well in a live concert as we did last night. Is he the deepest/most profound artist? Perhaps not, but in the context of this competition (who plays the best now at this given moment), his command is undeniable.

That being said, here's my own personal ranking of the finalists (note that the last three are unranked as per the competition's awards):

Lim
Geniushene
Choni
-
Khandohi
Shmukler
Stephenson

Here's probably what will happen:

Geniushene
Lim
Stephenson
-
Khandohi
Choni
Shmukler

Anna is a finished artist, an amazing musician, and has simply been at this longer than the others. The experience counts, and it shows in her playing and musicianship.

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For those of you who can judge this far better than me, would it be correct to say that compared to most of the other Cliburn competition pianists (and great pianists not playing in the competition) Lim handled the technical difficulties of the Rach 3 and Liszt Etudes with an almost effortless ease? Or is it just his his very undemonstrative movements that make it appear easier compared to other pianists? It almost seems like he might as well be playing Bach's Minuet in G.

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Brendan, I agree with Lim, Anna, Choni as top three, barring any disasters later today. Whether the jury agrees...

Beethoven 3 can come across as ponderous and dull, at least in the first mvt., and I hope that doesn't bite Choni.

Gold can't tie, but what of the other medals? You-know-who is the tiebreaker.

Not to debate health issues, but I found the sudden appearance of orchestral masks, except for winds, to be strange unless some test came back positive. I hope it wasn't because I said some of the first violins in long shots behind the pianists looked constipated because of what's happening on the podium. laugh


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
For those of you who can judge this far better than me, would it be correct to say that compared to most of the other Cliburn competition pianists (and great pianists not playing in the competition) Lim handled the technical difficulties of the Rach 3 and Liszt Etudes with an almost effortless ease? Or is it just his his very undemonstrative movements that make it appear easier compared to other pianists? It almost seems like he might as well be playing Bach's Minuet in G.

I often wonder how good Liszt really was by modern standards. But if it is possible to play as effortlessly as Lim does, then surely Liszt did. So it is thrilling to witness the realized possibility of superhuman capability. Fingers like guided missiles! And Lim can get "worked-up" interpretively and demonstratively, when need be.


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Originally Posted by Brendan
That being said, here's my own personal ranking of the finalists (note that the last three are unranked as per the competition's awards):

Lim
Geniushene
Choni
-
Khandohi
Shmukler
Stephenson

Here's probably what will happen:

Geniushene
Lim
Stephenson
-
Khandohi
Choni
Shmukler
Can you explain more why what you think will happen is different from your personal ranking?

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Mostly because this competition routinely comes up with weird results that don't always reflect the quality of the contestants or, in some cases, objective reality. There have already been a few instances in this edition: Tanin out in the first round and Kamei denied a spot in the finals.

I think the other big competitions (Chopin and Tchaik in particular) are usually more on point with their winners in recent years - Cho, Kantorow, Trifinov, etc. clearly being the best.

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Lim for gold, bet your house on it.


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Lim is going to win. I thought he played the Rach 3 superbly a piece I've known well for 40 years. All the performers are extremely talented and have my upmost respect but Lim has shown to be even more extraordinarily and is only 18! I've really enjoyed this competition and presentation. It's such a joy to watch live and review performances again if you want. In the old days you just had to go with what reporters would write belatedly and perhaps biasedly. Now you have the option to witness live in the comfort and convenience of your home.

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I wonder if the NY Times will have an article about the competition when it's over. There was an article near the beginning of the competition but that was mostly about the Ukrainian and Russian pianists in the competition:
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/07/...-ukraine-war.html?searchResultPosition=1

The last article before that one, based on a search of NY Times articles, was in 1996.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/18/22 04:55 PM.
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So Lim will be the youngest gold medalist since the late Alexei Sultanov. I remember how many viewed Sultanov's result as a scandal (I didn't). Lim seems to be less divisive.


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Geniushene gave a thrilling performance of the Tchaikovsky. Very solid and strong performance. She has gotten better over the course of the competition and this was a great way to end it.

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A few thoughts before the announcement:

Choni - Now THAT was a Beethoven 3rd! Fiery, dramatic, and high intensity from start to finish (aside from the 2nd movement, which was stunningly beautiful). I would love to hear him live and I think he boosted his standing considerably. As a side note, he didn't fake or rearrange a single note in the 3rd movement coda, and I've never seen anyone do that aside from Michaelangeli. Hoping he gets at least silver.

Khandohi - Confident and assured performance, but I honestly wasn't feeling it. I think with the Chopin competition in my relatively recent memory, it didn't quite hold up to the likes of Sorita, Gadjiev, etc. His finale was lightning quick and as clean as could be, but I missed the warmth and simplicity of the music throughout. Probably a finalist award.

Geniushene - Same thing as Khandohi. I don't think that she "threw" her performance, but it wasn't enough to put her ahead of Lim last night. Overall, everyone sounded and looked tired, and aside from a few interesting rubato moments I didn't hear the compelling Tchaik 1 that I was hoping for. Granted, she plays it at an extremely high level (and mostly maintained her composure under pressure).

Final ranking:

Lim
Choni
Geniushene

Finalist awards:
Stephenson
Khandohi
Shmukler

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I agree with Brendan, but would put Shmukler ahead of Khandohi.

Choni's Beethoven 3 and Lim's Rach3 were highlights of the last round for me. And, oddly enough, Shmukler's Grieg. He may upset the medal applecart by placing higher than I predicted.


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Agree with Brendan. Choni was the best performance tonight. Overall he still remains No. 1 in my book, despite Lim's virtuoso wow factor. He seems more musically mature, not to discount Lim, who despite his youth does show mature chops. But doens't appear as seasoned as Dymytro.
Anna is a seasoned veteran, but her Tchaikovky was lacking, not pedestrian but very safe, didn't take off for me.

Should win: Choni, Lim, Anna
Will win: Lim, Anna, Choni


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Can someone please give a link to the awards ceremony? I've tried on YouTube where I watched the performances and don't see it there or at medici.tv.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/18/22 07:57 PM.
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