Walkout pianist’s competition prediction is fulfilled, with a twist

Walkout pianist’s competition prediction is fulfilled, with a twist


norman lebrecht

October 04, 2014

On Thursday night, the French pianist Pascal Rogé walked off the jury of the Rina Sala Gallo International Piano Competition saying the result was being rigged in favour of Italians.

Pascal wrote:

I am betting 2 magnums of Chianti that this is going to be the final result on Saturday: 1st Prize Fiorenzo Pascalucci 2nd Prize Federica Bortoluzzi 3rd Prize Atsuko Kinoshita.

The result was announced tonight.

It is: 1st prize Fiorenzo Pascalucci; 2nd prize Federica Bortoluzzi, 3rd prize Atsuko Kinoshita.

Just as Pascal predicted.

pascal roge 1

However, all is not as it seems. Apparently, several of M Rogé’s marks were disqualified under the competition’s rules because they were too extreme, in either direction. The individual judges markings will (unusually) be published tomorrow to show that there was no fixing.

The competition has posted a statement on its own site and on Slipped Disc, strongly repudiating M Rogé’s ‘opinion’ and threatening legal action.



  • Pianoman says:

    Anyone who is interested in digging deeper can easily find videos of at least one of the contestants that Rogé was sure would pass to the finals:


    This is from a different competition, and the video is two years old, but you can draw your own conclusions. The tempo is completely inconsistent and shifts at times from bar to bar (!), rests are not observed, the articulation is sloppy at times, and the dynamic scale is nowhere near as varied as what Ravel asks for.

    Needless to say, there are also videos of some finalists on youtube, showing that they aren’t the most thrilling musicians alive, either. Fix or not, it seems there were no overly memorable names participating in this particular competition.

    • Anon says:

      Having page turned once for Pascal Rogé I can state that he didn’t observe an awful lot of the markings that were in front of him. I enjoyed his playing as I have on many occasions but – as is the case on some of his recordings – he certainly took a great deal of artistic license.

  • Sergei says:

    Very often, artists are very nasty persons. One should concentrate on their art, and forget them as they are.

  • Christopher Axworthy says:

    Agree totally and very diplomatically expressed ….lets hope we do not get into a slanging match between great artists but remember that we are all here to help great talent be recognised and have the help they need at the beginning of a career …………Misunderstandings and different ways of expressing them are human nature ,especially amongst great artists and they should be helped by less temperamental mortals so we can use their expertees to arrive at the fairest possible result and the greatest possible help to the young talent before us

  • Christopher Axworthy says:

    All theses discussions but reading through all the lines it is obvious that very busy artists often agree to give up their time for their passionate belief of finding and helping new young talent .And also helping them privately – I know even from recent experience – I think of Pires,Virsaladze,Fialkowska).

    Pascal has had so much( not least the help from Julius Katchen) that he rightly wants to give something back.I think this need to be said and encouraged and hope these discussions will not turn into a vulgar set of accusations that have no place here.

    All that was and is needed (as Pascal says) is a secretary or someone not involved or interested in the votes but could sit with the juror to find out what his intention was and how that could be translated into facts for a system that has been proven to be the fairest.

    I personally would like dicussion but I know that the great Nadia Boulanger stipulated to Fanny Waterman that she would come on the jury only if there were no discussion….” in competitions you vote not discuss” so there can be no discussion there !She did though have her own private secretary with her.

    I have enjoyed the wonderful hospitality and kindness of all the people at the Competition in Monza.
    The jury were all very friendly and over the wonderful dinners we were offered, would be quite pleased to discreetly talk about some of what we had heard in very general terms.

    As Fanny Watermann says that is human nature.

    Maybe some of the jury members were not there for all the rounds.
    Fanny again insists on hearing every note of the contestants and is in fact at 94 right this minute. listening to all the recordings sent by prospective contestants for what she says will be her last competition!

    Bruno Canino was the President of the jury ,in my time, and no one could question his integrity,
    musicianship or fairness ( somewhat reminiscent of that other great Italian musician Guido Agosti respected worldwide for his total musical integrity)

    Vovka is a very fine musician as is his brother – how could it be otherwise with a father and mother like his( his mother actually played as a teenager with the LSO – so it would appear like mother like son).

    I remember hearing father and clarinet son play a new work by Sergio Calligaris in Latina a few years ago – magnificent.
    When I went backstage I mentioned to Dmitri that I knew his brother and that he had played for us in Rome.He roared with laughter as everyone had always said I heard your father but no one ever I heard your brother!

    I think we could learn from this little episode but not let this little situation of genuine misunderstand turn into a general slanging match but a a constructive discussion to improve a sometimes imperfect system (I think everyone would agree that it is not the perfect solution but the only one we have to get funds to help give a platform to these remarkable talents).
    It would after all take so little ….so let us not waste time but have some constructive ideas.