Thursday, September 28

Jaeden Izik-Dzurko prevails in a piano final in WhatsApp times


The Canadian wins the 20th Santander Piano Competition, the last with Paloma O’Shea as president, and certifies the end of an era dominated by the cult of virtuosity and the excesses of rivalry

Marcel Takodoro, Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, Xiaolu Zang, Matyá Novák, Yu Nitahara, and Domonkos CsabayCrooked Elena.

Only one of the six finalists of the Santander Piano Competition was born when it premiered shine (1996), film adaptation of the stormy biography of David Helfgott, a child prodigy who suffered the worst rigors of musical authoritarianism, including beatings from his father. Since then the “Helfgott effect”, who suffered a nervous breakdown after interpreting the Concert No. 3 by Rachmaninoffhas fueled certain prejudices about the rarities inherent in piano geniuses, but has also served as a warning about the dangers of overexposure to the instrument.

Here, in Santander, the film is very different. We find the proof not in the concerts that have been held in the Sala Argenta, but in the previous moments. “There are many reasons that make this contest unique, starting with the level of the jury and continuing with the support we receive from the organization,” said the Chinese candidate Xiaolu Zang. «But, beyond that, I was surprised by the climate of camaraderie and collaboration between the contestants, who We even have a common WhatsApp chat where we have been exchanging impressions, doubts and even encouragement.».

The Hungarian Domonkos Csabay, who even before offering his reading of the Concert No. 3 de Bartók felt lucky. «The age limit for this contest ended on the eve of my birthday. So whatever I can get out of this experience, I take it as a gift.». It had even been speculated that the Canadian Jaeden Izik-Dzurko would have been late for one of the press conferences due to excessive perfectionism glenngouldian. But no: she had missed the hour while he was leisurely strolling along the bay…

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It is worth such a preamble to certify the end of a piano era dominated by the excessive cult of virtuosity, the geopolitical rivalry between the great musical powers (Russia, China and the United States) and the commercial interference that, in many cases, ended up tipping the balance of the juries. What is valued here is “excellence in its broadest spectrum” (in the words of Paloma O’Shea, founder of the Contest that, 50 years later, still bears her name), “that something special that we usually call magic” (holds Joaquín Achúcarro, president of the jury) or «a voice of its own and different from the others» (according to Josep Colom, the first winner in the national edition of 1972).

All of these attributes fit perfectly into the personality, talent and performance of Izik-Dzurko, who won the first prize (also for chamber music and for the audience) with his energetic version of the tricky Third by Rachmaninov at the head of the RTVE Symphony led by maestro Pablo González. “It is an initiation work with which I have been growing and that requires great preparation”, he was honest as soon as his name was announced at the closing gala. «You have to project the sound of the piano above the orchestral mass, and even fight a duel with it».

Beyond the international recognition and the financial prize (about 90,000 euros to be distributed among the different categories), the Santander Piano Competition offers the winner and the finalists (the Chinese Xiaolu Zang and the Franco-Japanese Marcel Tadokoro, second and third , respectively) a concert tour and the recording of an album released by the Naxos label. “Spain has become an absolutely inspiring destination”, assured Izik-Dzurko, who in April also won the final of the Maria Canals Award in Barcelona. “Here I have learned that there is no valid Helfgott effect. I want to continue playing better than yesterday, but without stopping enjoying it like the first day».

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