Monday 26 June 2017

Review: Electrifying performances at the NCH

Classical: DIPC Finals, National Concert Hall

John O'Conor
John O'Conor

Pat O'Kelly

The 10th triennial Dublin International Piano Competition draws 63 young people from around the globe to its initial rounds at the RDS.

The international jury, chaired by John O'Conor whittles this down to a semi-final dozen, the last four of which take the NCH stage with the RTÉ NSO sparkling under conductor Alan Buribayev.

The gala has President Michael D Higgins presenting the awards, topping at €15,000 combined with recitals in London and New York for the overall winner.

This goes to France's 19-year-old Nathalia Milstein's electrifying performance of Prokofiev's 2nd Concerto. Coming from an intensely musical background - the late violin virtuoso Nathan Milstein is a branch on her family tree - she invests the Concerto's gargantuan cadenza with staggering virtuosity.

But expressive lyricism also has its rightful place in the moments of calm between Prokofiev's turbulent outbursts. Ms Milstein's award is well deserved.

Rachmaninov's 3rd Concerto is the choice of €10,000 2nd prizewinner, USA's Alexander Bernstein, 26. His assertive account finds him warmly responsive to the composer's highly romantic music where rippling phrases segue seamlessly into each other.

Another US artist, Alexander Beyer (20), takes the €7,000 third prize for his eminently classical style in Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. Buoyant and fearless, I find his playing full of character if a little self-indulgent.

Caterina Grewe (27), representing Germany/Japan, shows her solid technique in Tchaikovsky's 1st Concerto for €5,000. A little undisciplined, her Andante is still nicely paced between her majestic opening Allegro and her mercurial Finale.

Irish Independent

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