Before we begin, Eero Lehtimäki wants to point out that he was sitting all morning writing notes about the performances in his notebook – first in the hall and later remotely via the wonderful Yle Areena live stream. However, because he missed the discussion with the scoundrels Emma and Lauri, all of his opinions were left unnoticed. Eero has already gotten over this tragedy.
The evening set of the first day was opened by Maciej Kułakowski.
Eero: The program was versatile and also very well built. It had such a common thread – I think this was a sign of an experienced competitor. I also paid attention to the ends of the pieces, Kułakowski held the silence with style.
Lauri: Penderecki was quite some performance! It really had feeling of madness.
Eero: It was such a one-man circus – and I mean this only in the positive sense!
Jonathan: The only con was that the piece itself was too long
Lauri: This Schnittke was my favourite of the day.
Eero: Kułakowski knew how to pick the important out of the overlapping lines, which formed fine polyphony
Jonathan: Occasionally, I longed for stronger playing and bigger sound in it.
Eero: Schumann was colourful but still natural – not a bit artificially superimposed
Lauri: Absolutely. Influential and enjoyable.
Jonathan: Sarasate had good gypsy action.
Eero: I would have liked to hear even cruder playing! At first, I was afraid how the Gypsy Airs would work after the Penderecki show, but it turned out to be a very good ending for the program.
Lauri: Kułakowski played seamlessly together with pianist Anna Nareto.
The seventh competitor was Christine Lee.
Lauri: Me and Jonathan both noticed that Lee felt a bit tense. But the Strad was truly singing in Dvořák!
Jonathan: She did have cellism at its top. High quality playing from all aspects
Eero: Very clean intonation and, in a positive way, simple playing. In Schubert, Lee’s style of keeping many long notes senza vibrato for a while before starting the vibrato was clearly present. It fit Schubert well but when she kept doing the same thing in Dvořák, it began to feel a bit like a mannerism. I would have liked to hear some hardcore contemporary music in her program, too.
The eighth competitor was Gabriel Martins.
Emma: The best Bach in the whole competition! Rarely stylish playing for a cellist, although, I would have expected a bit more baroque knowledge from the only Bach in the competition. It was a bold choice and I greatly appreciate this kind of elegant Bach playing.
Jonathan: Clear and clean – didn’t need any deodorant
Eero: I would have wanted to have more “check points” in the second movement, Allemande – the line was occasionally a bit too long for this genre. And the final movement, Gigue, could have been more dance like.
Lauri: The intonation was excellent. All in all, a very good and stylish Bach
Eero: Myself, I probably would not have started with two subsequent solo pieces but Hindemith had a nice robust sound. The pulsation was too thick for me in Schumann’s Adagio – on the contrary to Bach. But the Allegro took wing!
Jonathan: In Schumann, in the left hand there was some stiffness which wasn’t there at all in Bach. I longed for some more latin action in Ginastera but the cello sounded powerfully and largely.