We asked our Moscow observer Marina Evreison Arshinova for an assessment of the piano finals, the only part of the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition that has yielded big personalities and public involvement.

Here’s Marina’s report:


The second round of the Competition included 2 stages: solo program and a Mozart’s concerto. In his solo program Lucas Debarque of France absolutely won the spectators’ love. His interpretation of a rarely performed Medtner sonata was vital and fresh, and his Garpard de la Nuit was stunning. This performance was fabulous and became the high point of the competition.


Debargue plays in the legendary style of Samson Francois. Debargue’s Mozart concerto was also beautiful, beyond any comment, and deserved standing ovations. The Moscow audience was full of praise. Almost all days of the second round the hall was sold out.

Maria Mazo (32, Germany) didn’t pass to the final. She represented quite sophisticated program which included, apart from Beethoven’s and Skryabin’s Sonatas, Igor Stravinsky’s Danse infernale de tous les sujets de Kachtchei, Berceuse, and Finale from The Firebird, transcribed for piano by Guido Agosti. Her playing was impeccable in many respects, she was one of the prospective finalists and was liked by many listeners.

George Li (19, USA) is the pianist of post Lang Lang’s era: he adds such new dimensions to piano playing as fantastic brightness, feeling of endless possibities. ‘His innovative attitude to piano structure made it sound like in the new сoordinates,’ wrote Rossiyskaya gazeta.  At the same time, it’s quite distant stylistically and aesthetically from the respectful format of standard European music’s practice.

lukas geniusas


Lukas Geniusas and Daniel Kharitonov remain among the race’s leaders, although Geniusas’ playing in the second round satisfied neither himself nor his numerous fans. His performance was perfect but rather cold. By contrast, 16-year old Kharitonov seems to be full of spontaneous enthusiasm. He possess splendid technique. He is a real artist, immersed in his work, if still immature.

UPDATE: The other finalists, Sergei Redkin and Dmitry Masleev, studied at the Piano Academy Lake Como where Dmitry Bashkirov, a jury member, teaches. Redkin played better in the first round, Masleev played well throughout.
On TV news it was announced that Masleev’s mother died just before the Competition. We wish the young talented pianist strength through the healing powers of music.

(c) Marina Evreison Arshinova/Slipped Disc


Marina graduated from the StPetersburg Conservatory as a pianist, is a winner of international piano competitions and worked at the St Petersburg State Phiilharmonia (in the PR department). She is now an independent author and producer, living in StPetersburg.

Andreas Blau, who delayed his retirement by a year while a successor was sought, has bid farewell to the orchestra, in which his father played before him.

His seat will be taken by Mathieu Dufour, ex-principal flute of the Chicago Symphony.



(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)

press release:

“I’ve always considered it a privilege to be able to play in this orchestra.” With these words Andreas Blau, principal flautist of the Berliner Philharmoniker, said farewell to his colleagues and Sir Simon Rattle after his last concert on 20 June 2015. The son of a Berliner Philharmoniker, he knew the orchestra from childhood. After his music studies with Karl-Heinz Zoeller and at the National Music Camp at Interlochen in the USA, he became principal flautist at the age of only 20. He was a member of the Philharmoniker for more than 46 years and played under three chief conductors: Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle. But not only that: “When I started, it was a completely different orchestra. In effect, I’ve played with an orchestra of 250 members in the course of my career,” he said humorously.

Andreas Blau was not only a dedicated orchestral musician who enchanted audiences again and again with his clear, flexible sound and his stupendous phrasing, he was also much in demand as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. As Sir Simon said in his brief farewell speech, his presence would long be felt in the Philharmonie: “I always believed that concert halls remember their music and that it’s somehow left on the walls. All your beautiful sounds are on these walls and they remain here. And may we say, you are deep in our hearts and you remain there. Thank you Andreas!”


Four out of six of the finalists are home-grown:

Lucas Debargue (France)



George Li (US)

Sergei Redkin

Lukas Geniušas

Daniel Kharitonov

Dmitry Masleev (all Russian).


Maria Mazo, the hotly fancied German, was among those eliminated. It’s a cruel old world.

The six finalists are:

Pablo Ferrández (Spain)

pablo ferrandez

Andrei Ioniță (Romania)

Alexander Buzlov (Russia)

Seung Min Kang (S Korea)

Jonathan Roozeman (Netherlands)

Alexander Ramm (Russia)


Those eliminated include the experienced and widely recorded Leonard Elschenbroich (Germany) and two fancied Frenchmen, Bruno Philippe and Trstan Cornut.


Pavel Milyukov (Russia)

Alexandra Conunova (Moldova)


Bomsori Kim (S Korea)

Yu-Chien Tseng (Taiwan)

Clara-Jumi Kang (Germany)

Haik Kazazyan (Russia)


No great surprises.

Her name’s Arielle Baril, and she’s 11.

She starting singing at 2:05.

arielle baril

Australia is an unsentimental country, gday and gnite.

Still, flogging off a maestro’s keyboard while the old bloke is still alive is pushing it a bit.

The Steinway in question was handpicked and autographed by Vladimir Ashkenazy for the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House in 1991. The building is about to undergo major refurbishments an they’re selling off some contents.

Anybody want a piano? Bid for it here.

Guess there’s no chance the maestro will come back for it.

ashkenazy piano

An Arabic version of the Canadian national anthem has been published today in order to encourage ‘civic engagement’ in new citizens. The performer is Toronto opera singer Miriam Khalil and the version was commissioned by the Canadian Arab Institute, ahead of the national holiday.
ya canada

Wonder why they never made a version in Yiddish.


Neil Courtney, a double-bass player with the Philadelphia Orchestra for 48 years, has died at 82. He started out as principal double-bass with the National Symphony in Washington for four years, but settled for a lesser role in a much better orchestra. He became an influential figure in Philadelphia, respected by Riccrdo Muti and advising crucially on the acoustics of the new concert hall. They called him ‘the king’.

Peter Dobrin has the obit here.


My tribute to Ronald Wilford appears today in the Spectator magazine:

When Margaret Thatcher imagined perfect power, she thought of the orchestral conductor. ‘She envied me,’ said Herbert von Karajan, ‘that people always did what I requested.’ Power, however, is a mirage that fades as you get close. What Mrs Thatcher saw were the trappings, never the essence. Great conductors might get the glory, but someone else pulled the strings. Behind every power there is a greater force. Behind every conductor, there was Ronald Wilford.

Read the full article here.

WILFORD , Ronald  portrait Head of CAMI .

No obituary of Wilford, who died almost two weeks ago, has appeared anywhere outside of the New York Times, whose culture department he once controlled.




These are the finalists, announced today, in the first Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition, taking place in in Fort Worth, Texas:

Alim Beisembayev, 17 (Kazakhstan)

Youlan Ji, 16 (China)

Yukine Kuroki, 16 (Japan)

Wei Luo, 16 (China)

Arsenii Mun, 16 (Russia)

Evelyn Mo, 16 (United States)





The Norwegian soprano Mari Eriksmoen was best friends with Ina Kringlebotn, who died this week of brain cancer, at the age of 32, leaving a four month-old baby daughter. We asked Mari to share some memories of Ina. Here is what she writes:

ina kringlebotn and mari

It’s hard to imagine the future without Ina. We met when we were 14 years old. Ina was already a star where we lived in Ski, Norway. Everybody were talking about the girl with the fantastic voice. Ina was one of a kind. Spirited, energetic, bright, edgy, generous, sharp as a knife and warm as a summer day. She was well-known for her brilliant sense of humour.

Ina was always clear about what she wanted in life… who she wanted to be. She knew which people she wanted to keep close, and we who were lucky to be a part of her life, were blessed. She was the reason I started to sing opera. I played the violin in the orchestra when she was singing Susanna’s aria at the age of 16. She was always so clear about which direction she wanted to go, and I was so inspired by her strength and her fire.

We went to the same schools, from secondary school, the Norwegian Academy of Music and at the opera academy in Copenhagen, where Ina was the youngest student they had ever admitted. She was 25 when she joined the ensemble at the Komische Oper Berlin, where she sang big parts like Rusalka, Eva in Die Meistersinger (at the age of 26), Agathe in Der Freischütz and Michaela in Carmen to mention but a few.

She had a bright future ahead, and she was just starting to sing Wagner. Her voice and stage presence was magical. She always said, that if she had touched just one in the audience that evening, she was happy. That was the reason she sang.

I learned so much from Ina. She is still my inspiration and I am forever grateful to have had her in my life. She was my soulmate and my best friend and I will miss her every day for the rest of my life. From now on I will sing for the both of us.
(c) Mari Eriksmoen/Slipped Disc