London International Piano Competition Final

Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor, Op.11
Piano Concerto No.2 in A
Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor, Op.23

Alberto Nosé, Giuseppe Andaloro, Andrey Shibko (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Tomasz Bugaj

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 16 April, 2002
Venue: Royal Festival Hall, London

Just taking in the Final (as many people did) is to have a partial opinion on the pianists involved – through only hearing the jury-chosen three (and nobody else) and only in concertos when solo recitals are far more revealing.

Alberto Nosé wasn’t as imaginative or communicating in Chopin’s concerto as in his excellent semi-final. If he was perhaps emotionally contained he remained subtle and shapely in his demonstration and phrasing. In his elegance and finesse, Nosé will have underwhelmed many listeners I suspect, but the music was presented with discretion, sensitivity and real musicianship.

Nosé’s Italian compatriot, Giuseppe Andaloro, has similar qualities, to which add sleekness and rhetoric. Having been least impressed by his semi-final Liszt, I was surprised Andaloro only offered either of Liszt’s concertos for the Final. His was a clinical rendition that went beyond reasonable power and indulged the slower music, which went against Liszt’s design. If Andaloro was impressively authoritative in technical terms he was also short on fantasy as an interpreter – his twenty minutes seemed longer than Nosé’s forty, even allowing the latter’s sedentary view of Chopin’s slow movement outstayed its welcome. Not sure if Andaloro was really dialoguing with Robert Truman’s cello solos, but Liszt would have expected the cellos to sit left-centre (second violins antiphonal to the firsts) to afford the two musicians a truer partnership.

Andrey Shibko was the Final’s ’surprise’ choice. He gave a performance of the Tchaikovsky that seemed contrived – certainly his dynamic graduations were mannered. He lacked imagination and seemed on autopilot in a rendition that rarely gelled with the orchestra, out of sync in places; and the LPO came adrift from itself in the first movement.

Tomasz Bugaj was a decent enough accompanist; he was perhaps too fussy with orchestral detail (especially in Chopin) that was probably wasted on the audience –although his was some of the more interesting music-making of the evening … yet he often followed the pianists rather than be with them.

For me it would be Nosé first, then Andaloro and Shibko. Perhaps best to present no first prize and award a joint second to Nose and Andaloro. The actual result: Andaloro, Nosé, Shibko.

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