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Category: the 14th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition

the Tonys, 1976, ’77‏

the Tony Award Medallion

the Tony Award Medallion


the Tonys have become for me what
the Rubinstein Competition was
spring, or was it summer, an addiction

in ’76 “A Chorus Line” essentially won
, the closest thing to it was
“Chicago”, which, if I remember, got
nothing, undeservedly, but how do
you top a titan, A Chorus Line has
never been bested, you came out

it’s ’77 though, now, and Lily Tomlin
gets a special Tony
for a show that
couldn’t be called either a play or a
musical, Appearing Nitely was a

watch Lily Tomlin receive her award,
you’ll see what I mean

just click


my reply to BookInhabiter, a.k.a. Brain

a reader writes

“Hello Richard,
Recently I’ve been watching up on many dance competitions. I knew of the existence of piano competitions but never thought that they would be filmed. I must listen to the top contenders. How did you hear about this competition?”

here is my, admittedly extended, answer, with pertinent links



I haven’t missed So You Think You
Can Dance
Brain, for 11 years, so
we’ve probably been watching the
same “many dance competitions”

“piano competitions” aren’t much
different, just another art, judged
here by professionals throughout,
rather than entire publics

the competitions are fierce, to a
person the competitors are world

the music is often sublime, utterly
transcendent, though more rigorously
intellectual than popcorn – pace
Mozart – this puts some people off

much as you probably find covers of
songs you like, I go out looking for
sonatas, string quartets, concerti I
already know of and admire, I check
out the big names, Chopin, Beethoven,
Rachmaninov, see what might be up

the Internet abounds with nearly
anything you might want to find, the
only obstacle is the quality

the Van Cliburn competition, from
Houston, was dreadful, enough to
put me off it, but looking for musical
counterparts to pieces of interest, I
found the Rubinstein one in Tel
offering sterling performances

I quickly flew across the globe,
virtually, of course, speaking

the experience has been well worth
it, I heard miracles of music, haven’t
had so much fun since reading Proust,
in French of course, but you must
understand I’m an inveterate egghead,
totally chronic

this week I started Edward Gibbon’s
The Decline and Fall of the Roman
, text and, to my delight,
audiotape, its reader is extraordinary

check out the Chopin Competition
for, up to this point anyway in my
investigation, only Chopin, but he’ll
do for a significant while, his music
is consistently breathtaking

I’ll also check out the Russian
Tchaikovsky Competition, which Van
Cliburn made famous for us in the late
, by winning it, despite the rancours
of the Cold War, with a still paramount
rendition of Tchaikovsky’s own
monumental First Concerto

wow, I’ve been hooked ever since

thanks for stopping by my blog, Brain,
you’ll find, incidentally, a lot of excellent
performances highlighted there, several
of the best, in fact, from the most recent
Rubinstein Competition
, none of which,
to my utter consternation, managed to

other recommendations follow, check
it out

I think your blog is wonderful, keep
it up


Maria Mazo‏

if Mozart had written nothing other
than his piano concerto no 21 in C
, he would have still been
famous, its adagio is resplendent,
written even in our DNA, time stops,
one enters an epiphany

Maria Mazo could win the Rubinstein
for her interpretation of
this iconic piece


watch, just click


Steven Lin

we’ve reached the finals at the Arthur
Rubinstein International Piano Master
, the 6 remaining of the 16
contestants, after a second piano solo
round, were, none of them, ones I
would’ve selected, to my profound

a friend expressed such disgust after
Germany beat her favoured Brazil in
a recent soccer match

will you keep on watching, I asked,
she’d already been watching

I opted to also do the same

it‘s like soccer, I suggested, but for
nerds, for her to get my picture

with his second performance, of
Beethoven’s exhilarating 1st Piano
, after a rousing Brahms
Piano and Strings Quartet, his opus
, during the first of the Finals
round, Steven Lin knocks the ball,
I think, right out of the ballpark

and into the very ages, watch, I
predict, this guy outright fly


Ji Yong Kim

as far as technical ability is concerned,
can it get any better, Ji Yong Kim knocks
it right out of the ball park

watch him render also transcendent, at
the Rubinstein International Piano Master
, a commanding, a riveting,



Ran Dank

Mount  Everest

Mount Everest


though I’d only just listened to a full
recital at the Rubinstein Piano
, a peek at the next
performer’s program, left me unable
to not watch another, Ran Dank would
be playing, along with four pieces of
Chopin, three mazurkas and his A flat
major Polonaise, itself a towering
musical monument, Beethoven’s
“Hammerklavier”, the very pinnacle
of piano music, nothing surpasses in
majesty and stature the
“Hammerklavier”, the Mt. Everest of
music, a competent reading will
change your life, it is that good

Ran Dank doesn’t disappoint, I left
the planet


Natalia Sokolovskaya

though there have been gems among
the performances presented during
Stage l of the 14th Arthur Rubinstein
International Piano Master Competition
in Stage ll each contestant has been for
me outstanding, I’ve now seen six of
the 16 remaining contenders out of the
original 36, 20 are gone, cast away by
the 7 judges

Natalia Sokolovskaya had mightily
impressed me at Stage l with,
especially, her own 8 Variations
on a Theme of Paganini
” (at 15:00
minutes on the tape)
, you’ll remember

Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on the
same theme, but for entire orchestra,
Sokolovskaya writes hers for piano
alone, the original theme, from
Paganini’s 24th Caprice, had been
of course for violin

at Stage ll her Rachmaninov First
Sonata (at 20:00 minutes)

transcendent, surely definitive, this
is the one I’m going to remember

her Spanish pieces (at 10:00), a
couple of compositions by Albéniz

are a wonderful break from the often
very abstract other works on offer,
with their immediately captivating,
beguiling, indeed seductive, rhythms

she even makes the very trite
“Reflections on Love” (at 00:00)
, a

condition of the competition, credible,
by spacing its interchangeable
movements, pausing between them,
letting them breathe, in order to
separate the varied “Reflections”,
instead of stringing them all together
as a continuous, rather than discrete
elements of a, considered whole, as
all the other performers have to date
reflexively done

no one has written anything pertinent
about love, musically, since Chopin,
with the exception of often enough
Rachmaninov, to presume to
significantly comment on love is, to
my mind, pretentious, calling for a
fall, this composer is no exception,
her thoughts are to be expected, love
is atonal, arhytmic, loud, soft, tender,
tempestuous, strident, placating

but everyone already knew that

Sokolovskaya gives the “Reflections”
dignity nevertheless despite their
overt pretensions

a recital to write home about


“L’escalier du diable” – György Ligeti‏

one of the benefits of watching a piano
competition, or any recital, or concert,
for that matter, is in finding gems you
wouldn’t otherwise have heard of

at the 14th Arthur Rubinstein International
Piano Master Competition
held only last
month, May, Sun Yutong delivered a
riveting Ligeti, “L’escalier du diable”,“The
Devil’s Staircase”,
great, incidentally, title

here’s Sean Chen doing the same piece, if
you don’t have time for the extraneous
elements of a competition, however
meritorious this exhilarating presentation
might’ve been



psst: find Yutong doing the Ligeti at 28:00