When a competition eliminates the finest artist
November 25, 2014 by norman lebrecht
A ripple of shock ran round the flute world at news that Sébastian Jacot, recent winner of the Nielsen Competition by a nautical mile, did not make the semi-finals of the Concours de Genève, the flute world’s equivalent of Warsaw’s Chopin competition for pianists.
Sébastian, principal flute at Ensemble Contrechamps, is not only a star. He’s also a local hero, Geneva born and bred.
And the programme he played – from memory – was a stunner:
Ferneyhough Cassandra’s dream Song; Telemann Fantasie n°3; Faure Fantaisie; Telemann Fantaisie n°6; Schumann Drei Fantasiestücke;
Telemann Fantaisie n°10; Debussy Syrinx; Frank Martin Ballade. It was brilliantly played and the audience were thrilled.
So what went wrong?
Sébastian plays a wooden flute and speculation was rife that it had let him down – as it threatened to do once or twice at the Nielsen.
We asked Sébastian for an explanation, and this is what he told us: ‘The only problem was that in this competition they are looking for technical perfection with a bit a music and I played music with a bit of perfection.‘
He’s not the first and he won’t be the last. It’s a fatal flaw in the competition industry that dull technicians often triumph over dazzling artists.
Next Article Previous Article