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International Piano – September/October issue

International Piano september october 2017

A new issue of the magazine International Piano is out!

Boris Giltburg explores how his Russian roots have deeply influenced his cultural and artistic outlook, and explains why the music of Rachmaninov never fails to move him; we catch up with pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy as he celebrates his 80th birthday; and the development of piano music and pianism in Russia in the turbulent years leading up to the October Revolution of 1917.

Also, Sam Haywood on quintessential English piano repertoire; the top university and conservatoire courses for pianists in the UK and US; how to improve rapid repeated note technique; reports from the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; and free sheet music of Franz Behr’s Turtle Dove Polka.

Piano Street Gold members have instant online access to the digital version of the magazine.


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Ode to Joy at the Proms 2017

Hear Igor Levit’s encore at First Night of the Proms 2017. Liszt’s piano solo version of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Beethoven theme transcribed by Liszt

Piano score to download and print:
Extract, page 45-47: Beethoven/Liszt – Theme from Symphony 9

The 9 Symphonies Transcribed by Liszt

For those interested in Liszt’s transcriptions of all nine Beethoven symphonies might also find thrill in the 19th century practices on ways to experience orchestral music without attending a symphony concert, years before the invention of recordings and piano rolls. With this in mind inspiring recordings of the Liszt versions of the symphonies have been spotted utilizing a variety of historical keyboards and performance styles. Liszt had produced a superb two-piano transcription of the Ninth, a work he often conducted. Despite his publisher Breitkopf & Härtel’s appeals, Liszt maintained that distilling the universe of Beethoven’s last symphony for one player at one instrument was impossible. In 1865 however, living in seclusion at a monastery on the Monte Mario, Liszt wrote a translation of the symphony medium to solo piano with immense craft and inspiration. The opening of the finale to the ‘Ode to Joy’ is stunningly affecting. But it is a stint preparation for the combination of rhythm, colour, pacing and unyielding musical will, describing the sublime exaltation of Beethoven’s incitement.

“Of the major Romantics, Liszt alone had a personal connection with Beethoven. A case could be made that this first-hand association would prove to be the defining event of his life. Even in old age, he continued to refer to Beethoven as his great ideal, the lodestar of his artistic universe. Liszt’s advocacy of Beethoven’s music, at a time when many of his contemporaries were either unfamiliar with or baffled by the late-period works, is a matter of historical record.
Before the earliest attempts at sound reproduction, Liszt drew on every means at his disposal to create an accurate replica, a facsimile, of works he recognised as uniquely powerful, in order that others might better know and understand an artistic legacy he loved and valued above all.”
— Patrick Rucker, Gramophone

Hear full recordings of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony transcribed by Liszt:

NEW! Click the album covers to listen to the complete albums:

(This is a new feature available for Gold members of pianostreet.com)

Read more in Piano Forum:
Have you heard the Beethoven / Liszt Symphonies (Transcriptions)
Beethoven Symphonies – Which one would you play?


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International Piano – July/August Issue

International Piano july-june 2017

A new issue of the magazine International Piano is out!

Canadian virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin shares his passion for rare repertoire and explains why it’s important to understand the mechanics of music; celebrating the achievements of pianist-composers; Andrew Brownell introduces his new edition of Hummel’s Concerto in A minor; and Beethoven’s mighty Hammerklavier on disc.

Plus, how to practice scales and make it enjoyable; the new technology changing the art of piano tuning; London Piano Festival marks the centenary of Russia’s 1917 revolution; why audiences are unwilling to explore unusual repertoire; and free sheet music from Christopher Norton’s Pacific Preludes.

Piano Street Gold members have instant online access to the digital version of the magazine.


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Mozart Can Tell the Difference

For the first time in the history of The Cliburn Competition, semifinalists were required to perform a Mozart concerto. This was not only based on the fact that the Cliburn Foundation’s CEO Jacques Marquis is a classical concerto fan, but rather from the aim of judging how competitors show musical maturity and the delicate world of the Austrian master.


As Dallas News writer Scott Cantrell puts it: “Mozart concertos aren’t pianistic showpieces. But they’re like microscopes focusing on fine details: rhythmic steadiness and spring, shapely phrasing, a keen ear for coordinating with the orchestra and a sense for when the piano is a foreground soloist, and when it’s texture filling.”

As the final round includes the bombasms of the great romantic concertos of composers such as Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, the Mozart aspect along with the chamber music (Piano Quartet) momentum allows the jury to get a much more diversified picture of each finalist.

During the semifinals the 2017 Cliburn winner, 28-year-old Sunwoo Yekwon had chosen the Mozart concerto No. 21 in C major K. 467, and was praised for his “bold, vividly characterized” interpretation which included the quality of “taking liberties with unaccompanied passages, but he always worked back into the orchestra’s tempo”. The performance held a strong personal stamp.

Sunwoo Yekwon honored his late teacher, Seymour Lipkin, by performing a cadenza that his teacher wrote. He had asked permission years earlier to play the cadenza and said he was glad he was able to play it during the Cliburn competition.

“People seemed to enjoy it, I’m not sure about the jury members but the audience members enjoyed it and that matters a lot”, said Sunwoo after his performance with Nicholas McGegan conducting the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

Given a choice of nine concertos, the 12 semifinalists had just chosen four; Nos. 20, 21, 23 and 25, all composed during Mozart’s so-called Don Giovanni period.

Hear Sunwoo Yekwon perform Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto in C major K. 467:


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What’s New in The Cliburn 2017?

The final round of quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition kicked off on Monday. This year, there have been a few changes in the competition. There was and will be, of course, plenty of aggressive and loud playing. There will be technical brilliance and a certain flair. One might hope that there would also be some introspective greatness, too, but “lots of notes” win competitions, not emotional development. In other words, there is a ton of Liszt and not much Schubert. One of the new developments this year was the addition of a quarterfinal round. In previous years, there were just the preliminaries, the semifinals, and the finals.

The competition has moved into the 21st century. There are simulcasts on the competition’s website and the French classical music website medici.tv. The proceedings are translated into French, Russian, and Mandarin, and the live coverage reaches into previously unexplored corners of Asia. Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe host the festivities.


In the past, the contest was terrifically grueling and seemed to reward sheer stamina rather than musicianship or eloquence. This new lineup looked better all the way around for the competitors.The CEO of the Cliburn Foundation, Jacques Marquis, said he is a big fan of classical concertos. Particularly with Mozart, there is no place to hide, he maintained. Beethoven concertos were judged to be romantic rather than classical, so they were limited to the final rounds. When it comes to the chamber music, its small and intimate collection of partnerships showcase a competitor’s musical maturity beyond sheer bombast. Besides, the “big guns” will invariably come out in the Finals. The usual suspects of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev are bound to be showcased. Another change from previous years is that the judges were almost all new. In the past, the judges would be nearly the same as the last time. Only Joseph Kalichstein remained from the 2013 panel. A fresh perspective led the competition in exciting directions where others had feared to tread. This year’s jury includes: Joseph Kalichstein, Marc-André Hamelin, Amaldo Cohen, Anne-Marie McDermott, Alexander Toradze, Christopher Elton, Mari Kodama and Erik T. Tawaststjerna. These judges encompass the world because their homelands range from Japan to Finland. It is of significance that Yoheved Kaplinsky was not on this year’s panel. Her students have won multiple prizes in Cliburn competitions past, which gave rise to whispers about conspiracies worthy of Russian figure-skating judges. Although nothing was ever proven, this year’s organizers wanted no appearance of impropriety.

New Exposures

The medal winners receive something greater than a mere monetary prizes. Each of the top three will have access to career management services for three years. They will also have concerts booked for them, and for the first time, their performances will be released on CDs produced by Universal Music Group. The second and third-place winners will go on American tours while the grand prize winner will also tour Europe and Asia.


Georgy Tchaidze (Russia)
Kenneth Broberg (United States)
Daniel Hsu (United States)
Rachel Cheung (Hong Kong)
Yury Favorin (Russia)
Yekwon Sunwoo (South Korea)

cliburn finalists 2017

Here’s a breakdown of the new 2017 Cliburn:

Preliminary Round (May 25-28):

• 45-minute recital from each competitor
• Must include a newly commissioned work by composer Marc-André Hamelin
• 20 quarterfinalists chosen

Quarterfinal Round (May 29 and 30):

• Second 45-minute recital
• No piece requirements
• 12 semifinalists chosen

Semifinal Round (June 1-5):

• 60-minute recital
• Mozart concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas McGegan.
• Piano quintet no longer required

Final Round (June 7-10):

• Piano quartet with the Brentano String Quartet
• Any piano concerto of the competitor’s choice
• Fort Worth Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin this time

Live Webcast

Enjoy the Replay Archive

Further reading:
Leonard Slatkin: Should music be a competition?
Meet The Cliburn CEO, Jacques Marquis


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