Lively debate after Russian Avdeeva's Chopin victory

21st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Lively debate erupted Thursday in Poland the day after Russian Yulianna Avdeeva won the XVIth International Chopin Piano Competition, marking the bicentennial of the composer's birth, in Warsaw.

"This is the biggest surprise in the history of this competition," launched in 1927, marvelled musicologist and journalist Adam Rozlach.

"This is the Chopin Competition. So far the jury's decisions reflected the importance, above all, of fidelity to the soul of Chopin. But this year, we chose not Chopin, but Avdeeva, the pianist," he said, quoted by PAP news agency.

Avdeeva, 25, was the first woman to win in 45 years and the sixth Russian in the history of the competition. The prestigious event takes place once every five years and is dedicated to the 19th century Franco-Polish composer and pianist who was born in Zelazowa Wola, near the Polish capital.

She takes home a gold medal with a cheque for 30,000 euros (42,000 dollars) and will also have the honour of playing with the New York Philharmonic and Tokyo's NHK Symphony Orchestra.

"The verdict is shocking," Poland's broadsheet Rzeczpospolita daily said Thursday in a full-page review of the competition results.

"Avdeeva is one of those pianists accustomed to contests, who plays confidently, without the smallest difficulty, but is lamentably predictable," the commentary said.

"She's a very good pianist, but lacks the divine spark," observed Bogdan Kulakowski, the rector of the Academy of Music in Poland's Baltic Sea port city of Gdansk, quoted by PAP news agency.

"She's a pianists who intrigues pianists and we must remember that this time the jury was dominated by great pianists," Poland's Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski said.

Unlike previous editions, this year's competition jury was not made up of a majority of piano teachers, but of great pianists the likes of Martha Argerich, Dang Thai Son, Fou Ts'ong and Philippe Entremont.

Most commentators criticizing Avdeeva's style of piano preferred Austrian Ingolf Wunder, 25, and Russo-Lithuanian Lukas Geniusus, 20, who tied for second prize, and the lyrical Russian Daniil Trifonov, 19, who took third prize.

© 2010 AFP

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