Greetings from the first round of Paulo International Cello Competition!
The shadow jury today is conductor Eero Lehtimäki, cellist Lauri Rantamoijanen and violinist Emma Mali.
This morning we heard Zlatomir Fung, Jérémy Garbarg, Johannes Gray, Irena Josifoska & Minji Kim.
Zlatomir Fung opened the whole competition.
Lauri: Strong opening! I thought it would be a challenge to play first in a competition, but this guy didn’t seem to mind. I almost forgot I was listening a competition, because it felt more like a concert.
Emma: Strong opening indeed! Based on this I believe the level will be really high.
Lauri: The repertoire was really versatile and I think this kind of playing you can hear in the finals.
Emma: I think the piece by Salonen was very good. Fung played all the effects and atmospheres really well.
Lauri: I also think that was a good choice especially after Schumann, it was a good contrast. Schumann and Chopin really touched me.
Emma: Naoko Ichihashi did a fantastic job! I felt like Fung could’ve done more chamber music, but they played together really well and I’m sure Naoko was a great support for him.
Lauri: The winner of last Paulo Cello Competition, Kian Soltani, played the same Schnittke back then with Naoko Ichihashi. I remember that was one of the best interpretation. This was strong as well, but maybe a bit academic.
Emma: That is true. I missed a bit of presence from this young virtuoso. He’s such a great player, but with time and age I think he will be more versatile and sensitive as a musician.
The second competitor was Jérémy Garbarg.
Lauri: I liked his Debussy, french music fits him well.
Emma: I liked how he took time, I got the feeling he’s already quite mature a musician. He also played pianissimos quiet enough, and that’s pretty rare in competitions.
Lauri: I would’ve liked to hear more colors and courage. From Debussy I found some, but Brahms was a bit tame.
Emma: Debussy was definetely the best of him. Brahms was a bit too neutral for me too.
Lauri: It’s too bad he didn’t have a virtuoso piece, I would love to hear something completely different from him!
Johannes Gray was the third player of the competition.
Emma: When he started to play, my first thought was: “Wow, what a sound!”
Lauri: Mine too. His sound filled the whole space, and his interpretation was original.
Emma: I think he had a great balance between colors, elegance and power. Grey was also a great chamber musician! He listened, reacted and was very sensitive for the colors of the pianist, and they succeed to make really great moments.
Lauri: Sometimes the intonation was a bit too high, but luckily it was not chronical. The Encore was a playful, charming virtuoso piece, and I could see his artistic personality from that.
Emma: And what a tempo! I was delighted he was able to make music in a tempo that fast. Such a radiant and natural musician.
The fourth player was Irena Josifoska.
Emma: Her Schubert and Boccherini were light and elegant.
Lauri: It was light, briljant and easy. I just felt like it didn’t quite fill the room, but I would blame the instrument for that.
Emma: I got the same feeling. The cello didn’t give enough, so it was a bit small.
Lauri: She did have some temper, which I liked. She tried to get the sound out of the cello, but she had to try a bit too much.
Emma: I was so glad there was one piece I have played, Zigeunerweisen! This was a very original interpretation, very different from what I’m used to with violinists. It was mostly refreshing, but sometimes I would
like to let the music speak for itself.
Lauri: After all she had the soul in her playing, too bad the cello didn’t give her as much as she would have needed.
The last player of the morning was Minji Kim.
Emma: What a beautiful dress!!!
Lauri: She was here in the semifinals four years ago. I think she made some great progress since that.
Emma: That was so confident and convincing I almost got nothing to say.
Lauri: It was amazing how she nailed every note from the beginning to the end.
Emma: She really did. I kinda missed taking some risks, she played so perfectly. But she was great, and really seemed to enjoy the playing.
Lauri: Paganini-variations was a perfect choice for her. Amazing playing, bravo!
Emma: RESPECT for the staccato, she was able to play it both ways. You go girl!
Thank you everybody, we can’t wait for the next ones!