Richibi’s Weblog

Just another weblog

Tag: the Tchaikovsky Competition

at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition – Bach‏

"J.S. Bach, Wohltemp. Klav. Bd. I, No. IV. (Extrait) / (Duo de Tristesse)" -  Robert Strûbin

“J.S. Bach, Wohltemp. Klav. Bd. I, No. IV. (Extrait) / (Duo de Tristesse)” (1957)

Robert Strûbin


if I’ve been getting on their backs
about their Bachs at the Tchaikovsky
, it’s that they’re playing
Bach as though he were mediocre
Beethoven, it’s like asking Duke
Ellington to be Pink Floyd, it’s just
a completely different generation,

Bach wrote for the harpsichord, a
precursor to the piano, it could not
control the volume, nor the length
of a note, the pianoforte came
along to resolve both issues

therefore before Beethoven, who
made full use of the new invention
and worked hard the pianissimos
and the fortissimos, to degrees that
often became either inappropriate
or too authoritative, indelicate or
obnoxious if you’re not in the mood
– I remember wanting to play his so
solemn 111 at my father’s funeral,
but realized late that the first
movement was not especially in
that situation warranted, nor even
parts of the transcendental, but not
always not obstreperous, adagio –
and thumbed thus his nose at the
aristocracy, who earlier, before
the citoyens had demanded their
rights and when the world had
been considered to be of a
rational, logical order, a clock,
and as regular, would never have
tolerated such impudence

Bach and Mozart do not sway
much from strict rhythm, neither
do they alter volume much at all

so that the constant display of
heartfelt Bach and passionate
Mozart becomes cloying, and
not at all what these Classical
and Baroque masters would
have approved of

nor Beethoven, nor Chopin, for
that matter, whose strict tempo
markings didn’t include much
rubato, ritardandos, which you
could think of as milking a note,
putting velvet on your canvas,
it doesn’t work, the composition
itself unaided by bathos, pathos,
delivers, check out, of course,
Glenn Gould

Andrei Korobeinikov sat me right
down the other night with his
arresting BWV868, thrilling,
followed by more dazzling
pyrotechnics, though he fizzled,
and fractured his Beethoven, the
very 111 I care so much for, I
couldn’t even finish, you don’t
need a velvet canvas behind the
111, neither cloying ritardandos,
just skill, nor tangles of notes,
for that matter


at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition – the program‏‏

"Beethoven, 1987" -  Andy Warhol

Beethoven, 1987 (1987)

Andy Warhol


you’ll probably have noted, if you’ve
been following the Tchaikovsky
, that, unlike the
Rubinstein, the selection of works
is much more constrained, though
the mighties nevertheless

after the third day and into the
fourth, only one contestant has
started with anything other than
Bach, a Tchaikovsky

but unfortunately none of them but
one had given us a Bach worthy of
his name, then followed through
with, not surprisingly, a quite
competent Mozart, the cultural
conditions being not yet all that
different, aristocrats were looking
for their own music instead of the
church’s, secular instead of
ecclesiastical, therefore a tune
rather than an oratorio, Beethoven
and the Revolution would change
all that

afterwards a sonata of Mozart,
Haydn or Beethoven, the Classical
triumvirate, after which Tchaikovsky,
appropriately at this competition,
then études, either “-tableaux”,
“transcendentales”, or plain and
simple, by Rachmaninov, Liszt, or
Chopin, that’s it, you get to hear
the “Appassionata” or the “Grandes
études de Paganini”
several times
that way, sharpening discernibly
your musical ear

one was riveting, Andrey Dubov‘s

another, Lukas Geniušas transfixed
me with his opus 2, no 3, of
Beethoven, a work I usually only
ever tolerate, sending it soaring
into the bard’s later mature, and
revelatory, period

others have been competent, even
admirable, several, however, not
ready for this trial, they’ve come
without adequate preparation for
the ball

though I’ve been watching it in
my pajamas, I should talk


Paganini’s First Violin Concerto – Akiko Suwanai‏

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - "Niccolo Paganini" (c.1819)

Niccolo Paganini (c.1819)

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres


for Apollo, who alerted me to my error

having egregiously misspelled “Akiko”
in my recent commentaries about Ms
Suwanai, since, however, corrected, I
can only heap upon her greater praise
now for again an immaculate
performance of, this time, Paganini’s
First Violin Concerto
, itself an event,
as atonement

not only does she play this thrilling
with precision and
consummate artistry, this is the
performance with which she wins
the Tchaikovsky Competition, the
one Van Cliburn had secured so
illustriously back in the late Fifties,
at the height of Soviet Communism,
she in 1990, moments only after its
fall, a full, now, 25 years ago

it astounds me that such a talent
would’ve taken so long to reach my
ears, which have been attuned to
Classical music and its
peregrinations for as long as I can

then again there was no ticker tape
parade for Ms Suwanai when she
, the world has changed,
it seems such excellence is no longer
so universally paraded, not even
much advertised

the Paganini Violin Concerto was
composed around 1818, late
Beethoven, early Chopin, Paganini
defines for the violin the Romantic
Period, what Chopin did for the piano,
Beethoven had given them the push

if you can get past your astonishment
you’ll note that the foundation of the
is Classical, tight tempi, tonality,
no discordant notes, and repetition
always of the themes, still the triple
pillars of our understanding of music,
its Trinity, despite some strong forays
into their deconstructions, see, for
instance, the haunting George Crumb

what Paganini adds to Classicism is
personality, Romanticism, same as
Beethoven did, and at about the
same time

aristocratic formality was giving way
to the voices of the crowd, some highly
articulate, representative, formidable,
as the shackles of servitude fell with
the French Revolution and human
rights became central, and