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Welcome to the quinquennial (until COVID, at least) International Chopin Competition, October 2-23! Please use this thread for all posts related to the competition, including live-blogging performances.

Links
Competition Homepage: https://chopin2020.pl/en/

Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/c/chopininstitute (there's also an App on the Competition Homepage, but the prelims were at least streamed live on YT)


Competitors
https://chopin2020.pl/en/competitors

Viewers of the past few competitions will notice a few familiar names, as previous finalists and those who advanced through multiple rounds are trying again. Several winners of major competitions are also in the running:

Leonora Armellini (3rd stage in 2010)
Alexander Gadjiev (Sydney and Hamamatsu 1st prize)
Avery Gagliano (USA Competition Competition winner, automatically admitted to the 1st round)
Nikolay Khozyainov (3rd stage 2015 or 2010?)
Aimi Koybayashi (finalist in 2015)
Szymon Nehring (finalist in 2015)
Georgijs Osokins (finalist in 2015)

Even beyond this group, there are many other very strong players who are trying for the first time.


Drama
Argerich is out! Apparently Nelson Freire is having health issues, so she withdrew as a juror to be at his side. All of her appearances (solo, chamber, etc.) have been cancelled and she is being replaced by other winners of the competition: https://chopin2020.pl/en/news/artic...-argerich-in-the-jury-of-the-competition


Predictions
It's hard to say. I have doubts that a previous finalist will win the gold, but I could see Kobayashi, Nehring, or Osokins winning a top prize this time. I'm hoping for Armellini, but it's also possible that Gadjiev, with wins in previous competitions, has the stamina and nerve to win. Then again, a new competitor could totally come out of left field and blow everyone out of the water.


For Discussion
I might be in the minority opinion, but the Chopin competition is the most conservative piano competition in the world: it focuses on only one composer, doesn't commission a new work, and historically picks players that fit a strongly pre-defined interpretive mold of how Chopin should "go" (notably excluding/marking down Sultanov, Pogorelich, Bozhanov, and many others who don't fit this mold but nonetheless have a strong artistic voice or refusing to award the gold altogether). This is further compounded by the fact that the jury is typically composed of dynastic Polish teachers who rarely, if ever, perform in public (in the current jury, fewer than five still perform with any regularity, and without Argerich there it's especially galling since she still does all the heavy lifting in this regard), not to mention the scandal in 2015 about Entremont giving Cho the lowest scores of the entire competition because of an alleged squabble with Cho's teacher, Michel Beroff. In any case, it's the competition that we all love or love to hate in some form or another, and this year will likely be no different, even before factoring in COVID.

So, enjoy!

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To add to your "discussion", and since I am a huge fan of Bozhanov, for a long time a honourable chairman of the jury (or something like that) was Jan Ekier who is also an editor of Chopin works. Bozhanov, in an interview, shared his disappointment with Ekier and believed it was Ekier who opposed him and tried to influence other jury members to vote against him. Whether it's true or not, we can hardly know, however here is a recording of the ballades by Ekier:



I've rarely heard playing that is as devoid of emotion.

Last edited by CyberGene; 09/28/21 10:03 AM.

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Okay, so most people probably are familiar with the much publicized drama surrounding the 1980 competition, with Argerich quitting the jury over Pogorelich's elimination in the 3rd stage. But did you know that actually another judge (Louis Kentner) had resigned because Pogorelich made it to the 2nd stage? As the article below recaps, the Chopin competition actually has been a lightning rod for controversy from its inception, or in other words: scandal is the norm!

http://chopinreview.com/pages/issue/7

Another interesting point that the article highlights is that since 2010 the organizer has scrapped consensus in lieu of numerical point system. Under such a system, if one judge docks points off another judge's no. 1 contender, it has an indirect yet very real effect of promoting the no. 2 - and if enough of that goes around, that means nobody's favorite wins. The winner may end up being everybody's no. 2, or even no. 3.

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Originally Posted by CyberGene
To add to your "discussion", and since I am a huge fan of Bozhanov, for a long time a honourable chairman of the jury (or something like that) was Jan Ekier who is also an editor of Chopin works. Bozhanov, in an interview, shared his disappointment with Ekier and believed it was Ekier who opposed him and tried to influence other jury members to vote against him. Whether it's true or not, we can hardly know, however here is a recording of the ballades by Ekier:



I've rarely heard playing that is as devoid of emotion.
Or maybe your opinion of his playing is influenced by his not liking Bozhanov? I don't hear any lacking of emotion in the recording you posted.

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^ Well, emotion is not a measurable thing, so my opinion is as subjective as yours. You may be right that I am biased against Ekier. And by extension, you may be biased against me (or not personally, but just wanting to argue with people on the forum, for instance) which would influence your opinion on whether that performance really lacks (or not) emotion smile


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I think that the artistic standard at the Chopin is the highest of the big competitions. Fast banging won't get you anywhere in Warsaw. 🤣

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The letter has been picked -

this time it's "M".

Stage 1 schedule: https://chopin2020.pl/en/calendar


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Which Steinway, (no. 300 or no. 479) would you choose if you were to perform there?

I would go with the 300, because of the more clear and defined sound.

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Watched some of the first session. Lots of etude flubs and mostly careful playing from the majority of the contestants. The only one who broke that mold was Osokins, who is clearly going for a Pogorelich vibe both in mannerisms and playing style, yet it somehow seems artificial. He was objectively the best of the session, but I want to hear some of the others. Nehring was extremely cautious and certainly playing to the jury, IMO.

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I’m surprised that Osokins played the same (Ballade #3) piece for prelim and the 1st stage. I did not know it was allowed.

Last edited by FarmGirl; 10/03/21 12:14 PM.
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I listened to parts of Nehring and Osokins. I found Nehring rather disappointing. A little too reasonable, his etudes lacked brilliancy and the nocturnes, i had issues with his phrasing. All in all it is good performance but a little too uniform and smooth. Not his best performance.

Osokins has definitely more personality. Sometimes a bit mannered but he is able to bring fine nuances. The nocturne was really nicely played. In 10/12 though i find he lacked fluidity in the left hand but the whole piece was well architected. The issue with Osokins is that in the previous session he used to take some liberties with the text. I did not look at the score this time but that could be an issue with the jury.

Did not listen to the other ones.

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Originally Posted by FarmGirl
I’m surprised that Osokins played the same (Ballade #3) piece for prelim and the 1st stage. I did not know it was allowed.

https://en.chopin.nifc.pl/=files/attachment/5/4051/regulamin_konkursu_2020_ang..pdf
The Competition repertoire includes solely works by Fryderyk Chopin. Competitors may play pieces they presented on the video recording enclosed with the application. They can also play pieces they performed in the Preliminary Round ‒ except for the Etudes from groups a) and b). However, the same piece cannot be played in the different stages of the Competition.

The Preliminary Round repertoire includes solely works by Fryderyk Chopin:
- two Etudes, one from each group (a, b) indicated below:
a) in C major, Op. 10 No. 1
in C sharp minor, Op. 10 No. 4
in G flat major, Op. 10 No. 5
in F major, Op. 10 No. 8
in C minor, Op. 10 No. 12
in A minor, Op. 25 No. 11
b) in A minor, Op. 10 No. 2
in C major Op. 10 No. 7
in A flat major, Op. 10 No. 10
in E flat major, Op. 10 No. 11
in A minor, Op. 25 No. 4
in E minor, Op. 25 No. 5
in G sharp minor, Op. 25 No. 6
in B minor, Op. 25 No. 10
- one of the following pieces:
Nocturne in B major, Op. 9 No. 3
Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1
Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27 No. 2
Nocturne in G major, Op. 37 No. 2
Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1
Nocturne in F sharp minor, Op. 48 No. 2
Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 55 No. 2
Nocturne in B major, Op. 62 No. 1
Nocturne in E major, Op. 62 No. 2
Etude in E major, Op. 10 No. 3
Etude in E flat minor, Op. 10 No. 6
Etude in C sharp minor, Op. 25 No. 7
- one of the following pieces:
Ballade in G minor, Op. 23
Ballade in F major, Op. 38
Ballade in A flat major, Op. 47
Ballade in F minor, Op. 52
Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60
Fantasy in F minor, Op. 49
- two Mazurkas chosen from the following opuses:
17, 24, 30, 33, 41, 50, 56, 59


Stage I
- two Etudes, one from each group (a, b) indicated below:
a) in C major, Op. 10 No. 1
in C sharp minor, Op. 10 No. 4
in G flat major, Op. 10 No. 5
in F major, Op. 10 No. 8
in C minor, Op. 10 No. 12
in A minor, Op. 25 No. 11
b) in A minor, Op. 10 No. 2
in C major Op. 10 No. 7
in A flat major, Op. 10 No. 10
in E flat major, Op. 10 No. 11
in A minor, Op. 25 No. 4
in E minor, Op. 25 No. 5
in G sharp minor, Op. 25 No. 6
in B minor, Op. 25 No. 10
- one of the following pieces:
Nocturne in B major, Op. 9 No. 3
Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1
Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27 No. 2
Nocturne in G major, Op. 37 No. 2
Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1
Nocturne in F sharp minor, Op. 48 No. 2
Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 55 No. 2
Nocturne in B major, Op. 62 No. 1
Nocturne in E major, Op. 62 No. 2
Etude in E major, Op. 10 No. 3
Etude in E flat minor, Op. 10 No. 6
Etude in C sharp minor, Op. 25 No. 7
- one of the following pieces:
Ballade in G minor, Op. 23
Ballade in F major, Op. 38
Ballade in A flat major, Op. 47
Ballade in F minor, Op. 52
Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60
Fantasy in F minor, Op. 49
Scherzo in B minor, Op. 20
Scherzo in B flat minor, Op. 31
Scherzo in C sharp minor, Op. 39
Scherzo in E major, Op. 54

Last edited by mandan; 10/03/21 10:39 PM.
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I wonder if Nehring chose a cautious approach because he did not want to overplay the Etudes (esp. the C Major) in the middle of his program?

I watched most of the evening session live. Sohgo Sawada and Aristo Sham were quite impressive.


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(Khozyainov was a finalist in 2010.) He certainly has an uphill battle here, but his Ballade op. 52 in the July prelims was fantastic. One of the best I've ever heard. It starts at 28:46 here:



Sorry, I don't know if there's a way to insert the link without the entire screen.

Osokins was so mannered. More so than in the prelims in July. Not my taste. Although he did throw caution to the wind, it seemed. Several (e.g. Yupeng Mei) are impressing me less in this round than they did in the prelims, maybe they're suddenly becoming cautious?

Nehring's playing nearly put me to sleep. It was so staid.

Sohgo Sawada and Aristo Sham were very good out of today's bunch.

Leonardo Pierdomenico is always interesting to listen to, with the maturity of a veteran.

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Mandan, thank you. I understand now.

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Tried to listen to as many as I could, or at least catch the highlights. Some ones I liked:

Hao Rao - extremely beautiful nocturne, and a strong Scherzo 2 (he got a big reaction from the audience).
Kyohei Sorita - brains and fingers to burn. He probably resonated with me the most so far.
Aleksandra Swigut - very sensitive.
Sarah Tuan - distinctive ideas, has her own artistic vision, and a bold move starting with the Etudes (which most people avoid). Definitely American style pianism, which the jury may or may not go for (a reflection on them rather than her).
Sohgo Sawada - extremely solid, and convincing musicality too.
Talon Smith - the potential is certainly there.

Based on where they started in the alphabet, it made me realize that the strongest players (Armellini, Khozyainov, Gadjiev, etc.) are yet to come. In the meantime, I'm surprised by lots of the other participants.

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Really enjoying what I have seen so far, thinking this competition will be very close! Very interesting hearing the differences between the two Steinway D-274's, the Fazioli F308 and the Yamaha CFX. All (IMO) sound quite different to me and but personally I loved Aleksandra Swigut's performance and sound the most so far. That Steinway 479 is a beauty though...looking forward to more Chopin!

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Zi Xu | Yuanfan Yang - I do not see them in 2nd round. Barcarolle of the first one was weird, the second one I am listening now and I just have some hmmmm....

Szymon Nehring in renowned pianist already and he was not satisfied with his performance.

Talon Smith good but very delicate.

Two last yesterday competitors were good, but there was a bit mess in Ballade and Etudes in them.

And - please do not remember that 90% of those pianists are playing there under horrible pressure, especially those young ones. Usually competition was allowed till 25 years, not it's till 30, wonder why. So we have new emerging pianists and already established ones who just want to have additional career boost.

take in mind also that most of the finalists were 18-25 when they won. After that age you either are already established pianist or you're not at the level to perform internationally (in case of Chopin competition this mean best world's orchestras and conductors).

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Ok, so Talon Smith got in. I had a chance to skim through the prelims, and I thought some of the Op. 10/1 were not at pro level, which is strange considering they could have chosen other more accessible etudes. Smith played the Op 10/1 out of character as if it were a lyric piece, with inaccuracies to boot. But I guess the judges wanted to see more of him.

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I found Swigut very musical. A lot of personality and both nice touch and nuances and phrasing. A real sense of architecture. The 10/8 was really good, one of the best I have listened to.

Sumino was solid technically but I dont find him to have any particular personality. Musicaly I did not connect with his way of playing.

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