Summing up the second round
The last day of the second round was opened by Bryan Cheng
Lauri: Cheng walked on stage with a big smile on his face. He was the most confident player in the competition – in good and bad.
Emma: His cello was not in tune and the intonation was not logical. Cheng is a good show man for this Tšaikovski and he had a great communication with Eva Ollikainen, but sometimes he had to press too hard. He has a great cello, but he would’ve needed more time to get to know the instrument and find all the qualities of the cello.
Eero: Emma was talking about the dresses, so now I have to mention that this player had great socks and a matching pocket square. The rumour has it that in the finals we can expect some more fashion! In the fifth variation the trills were the best ones of the semifinals. I also liked the rubato in the theme.
Jonathan: For my opinion this was too mannered and there was a long line missing.
The second player of the day was Michiyaki Ueno
Eero: There was barely any contact with the conductor. The playing was as linear as the first round. Even though Ueno created a whole world with his music. Precise playing from the beginning to the end, maybe even too secure.
Emma: Clear and lively player. He took time to taste every note! Unfortunately the sound was not as big as the energy of the player.
Jonathan: Intense playing. The blackout seemed to disturb his playing, and after that he was not as he was before. He also played mostly on the fingerboard with is now – going closer to the bridge would have brought more to the sound.
Lauri: Based on the first round I expected much more. I would’ve liked to hear more depth in the sound. With orchestra he was not as his best, but I’m sure age will bring him more experience.
The third player was Leonardo Chiodo
Jonathan: The orchestra couldn’t always follow him. In the beginning I noticed he was very nervous, but with virtuoso passages his playing seemed very certain and easy. Great to see a Finnish guy in the finals!
Lauri: Nice performer and a virtuoso with personality. He seemed very genuine and he wasn’t trying to please the audience with some show. I’m glad he got into the finals.
Eero: What impressed me was the depth I mentioned in the first round. It was great to see how happy he seemed at the end. He was rushing, and especially in the fast passages it disturbed me a bit.
Emma: Strong soloistic sound was disturbed by tension. His playing sounded better than it looked – ergonomic check would be good for him and fixing the position could free the sound. Technically very skillful Chiodo was at his best in the fast passages, but the in the slower passages I would’ve liked to feel more freedom and peace. Chiodo was for sure the most polite player in the competition – in the first round he hugged the pianist Valeria Resjan on stage and now he thanked the orchestra and Eva Ollikainen with big gestures. So sweet!
The last competitor was Brannon Cho
Eero: Amazing! It was exactly that kind of of playing what I wanted for this Elgar. He really knew the piece and it felt like he played the whole orchestra. I liked especially the passage where he played with celli and bassi – he really played for them and not the audience. Such an intelligent interpretation!
Lauri: He played just as well as I expected. At first I sensed he was nervous, but as the piece went on I was more and more sure he will go to the finals. I especially wait for his Haydn. Bravo!
Jonathan: He created long lines through the piece, especially the slow passages. In the second movement I hoped the spiccatos would’ve sounded easier. Strong performance, I was not surprised he’s going to the finals.
Emma: I loved this! Sensitive, elegant, peaceful. He didn’t force anything and the cello was singing naturally. Sometimes I missed some variation for the vibrato, he didn’t keep it to the end of the notes. That would also bring even more colours to his playing, if that’s possible. The third movement of Elgar was fantastic. All in all he was a true musician, an artist!
For the whole Shadow Jury: The list of finalists left many questions among us and made us question the choices of the jury. Like all the competitions, there was a few surprise here. The jury has people from eight different nationalities and cultures, so it’s obvious all the players can’t please every member of the jury. We respect the choices the jury made and obviously we all had a few same names on our lists, but our lists looked quite different. This time the winner of the internal contest of the Shadow Jury was Emma: she guessed 5 out of 6 finalists!
We seemed to appreciate the great artistic personalities more than the jury. Even though it is clear that big personalities divides opinions in a big international jury. We all agreed we would’ve liked to hear more Kulakowski and Sendetskiy, but we’re sure we will hear them again on big stages. It is now clear that competitions are mostly for skillful, stable players and not for big personalities!