Mastering the piano

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A performance from the 2017 Hastings Piano Concerto Competition

Being a serial personal mis-manager, I missed the 2018 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition completely. This almost happened with this year’s event, but turning up at the White Rock last Thursday, the last day of February, hoping to hear some solo recitals gave me one of the most fascinating and enlightening musical experiences I’ve had.

The recitals had finished the day before, but on this evening the finalists were involved in public Master Classes with members of the Competition’s distinguished international jury. I heard the first session with four of the young pianists, each of whom was mentored by a different jurist of a different nationality.

The first class was taken by the  English Martin Roscoe, well known to Rye Arts Festival patrons, the second by Mamiko Suda from Japan followed by Wolfgang Manz from Germany, with the last coming from the United States, Robert Palmer, who is the Competition’s representative in that country.

All are very significant pianists in their own right and each has a very different style of conducting a class with a young and much less experienced performer, some would say demonstrating in their methods the existence of genuine national characteristics.

Nevertheless, it was remarkable how each mentor demonstrated vividly the crucial value of thorough, thoughtful preparation to eventual performance. Each of the young finalists is clearly a very gifted musician, giving the lie to the stereotype of feckless youth in their complete dedication to their vocation of mastering the most formidable of instruments.

The wisdom passed on by their seniors at this and future master classes will prove invaluable to them. Which of them was destined to triumph in the Competition after the concerto section on Friday and Saturday can be discovered on the HIPCC website; whoever you discover it to be will have been a worthy winner. Will I have organised myself more efficiently when the Competition comes round again in 2021? Who can say?

Image Credits: Rye News library .

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