The chronic search for a standout
There were no particular sensations at the final concert of the International Piano Master Classes, but there was excellent playing.
The International Piano Master Classes, which take place every summer at Midreshet Sde Boker in the Negev (even though, for historical reasons, Tel Hai, in the north, is part of the official title ), is a prestigious institution. As in years past, dozens of gifted pianists from all over the world honed their skills under the tutelage of senior pedagogues from here and abroad.
The concluding concert, held this past weekend in Tel Aviv and broadcast live on the Voice of Music, provided an opportunity to taste a little bit of what was cooked up this summer down south: Twelve of the workshop participants, most of whom won scholarships for their outstanding playing during the classes, appeared in this concert.
It is important to note that the contemporary international arena of piano is very crowded, and the opportunities for a solo career are far fewer than the number of excellent pianists. For this and other reasons, the chronic expectation that a particularly outstanding young artist with some outstanding quality will be discovered hovered over the final concert. I admit that while I did not note any particular sensation, I think that big surprises could still emerge.
The first three in the parade - Yishai Rubin from Israel, Ksenia Plakhtiyfrom Russia, and Nadia Mukhtari from France - were charged with performing a diverse program (Schubert, Chopin and Rameau respectively ). The three provided performances worthy of further arrangement and polish. Later on in the program, the quality improved, with Jean-Paul Gasparian from France and Adi Neuhaus from Israel, both 16. Israel's Erga Kotler pleased the audience with Moshe Zurman's arrangement of Naomi Shemer's "Twelve Moons."
In terms of sound quality - that is, providing a big, pleasing, controlled sound - Nikolay Medvedev, 26, from Russia, was the clear standout (in Russia he studies with Tatiana Zelikman and chose to study with her here as well ); Jan Vojtek, 17, of the Czech Republic, showed impressive technical ability and self-assurance in the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 7 by Liszt. At the end of the concert, we heard Busoni's arrangement of Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 1 for two pianos, eight hands, played by two workshop participants from the Netherlands, Lestari Scholtes and Gwylim Jenssen, who played together with workshop instructors Tami Kanazawa and Yuval Admoni. This choice was an especially pleasing 40-finger finale to the entire event.