Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during discussions by a most distinguished jury; 12 overall, but four only for the final concert.
We the audience, had our own opinions of course, but with such a diversity of concertos: Chopin, Bartok, Rachmaninov, one would have thought that fair/comparative/well-balanced decisions would be impossible.
It was ever thus. Competitions go back to ancient times. However, reduced from 16 world-wide hopefuls (all in their twenties), three shone to create a wonderful afternoon of diversity, encouraged discreetly by conductor Michael Seal with his slightly reduced CBSO.
Even so, there were some interesting balance issues. However, one must take into account a lack of rehearsal time: professional time scales, somewhat different to endless hours of personal practice.
Russian Natalia Sikolovskaya came out tops with the audience, but only third in the professionals’ decision. We were treated however, to her mind-blowing performance of Rachmaninov’s 3rd concerto, regarded as one of the most difficult challenges in the repertoire. A hair-raising performance.
Chopin No 1 came second. A long-winded creation, but beautifully played with lovely phrasing by Japan’s Marina Koka after an endless orchestral introduction.
Spikey, sparky Bartok (No 3) triumphed as No 1, with poignancy and gypsy whirling from London born Mishka Rushdie Momen.