2 Americans, 2 Canadians in Chopin Competition final

2 Americans, 2 Canadians in Chopin Competition final


norman lebrecht

October 17, 2015

This may be the most open, unpredictable final in recent memory. No strong favourites, no big names. A spread of artists from 8 countries. Only one Russian, only one Pole. Two women out of ten.

Mr Seong-Jin Cho (South Korea)
Mr Aljoša Jurinić (Croatia)
Ms Aimi Kobayashi (Japan)

Aimi Kobayashi
Ms Kate Liu (United States)
Mr Eric Lu (United States)
Mr Szymon Nehring (Poland)
Mr Georgijs Osokins (Latvia)
Mr Charles Richard-Hamelin (Canada)
Mr Dmitry Shishkin (Russia)
Mr Yike (Tony) Yang (Canada)

In the final round, starting Sunday, each pianist will perform one of Chopin’s two Piano Concertos with the Warsaw Philharmonic, conductor Jacek Kaspszyk.

The result will be announced late Tuesday.

This was Aimi, aged 4:


  • Mike says:

    Most of the candidates in the finals are in fact wonderful: the Canadian pianist Hamelin has given some stunning performances and so have Aimi Kobayashi and Kate Liu. Poland’s Nehring gives strong hopes for a top prize as well and Osokins promises to be a future piano hunk.Many people following the competition including some local reviewers do not understand the presence of Croatian pianist Jurinic in the finals: his performances were noticed as uneven, pale and way under the level of the rest of the candidates.But, well, what’s a competition without a little controversy.

    • Neven P. says:

      I have never heard Mr. Jurinic perform either live or on record and can therefore not respond to your opinion argumentatively. However, as a Croatian, I can only say that I deeply hope that the jury’s judgement is more accurate than yours and that of the local reviewers.

      Without matter of the quality of Mr. Jurinic’s playing, this is one of the greatest triumphs of Croatian pianism in history. Even Pogorelich didn’t make it so far 🙂

      • Branimir says:

        As another Croat, also very proud of Aljoša getting so far. And I was listening his performances live before. This is his second Chopin. He was admitted to the first (actually 2nd) round in 2010, too. In the meantime he developed wonderfully. Two years ago won The Schumann Competition in Germany. I’m sure he deserved his place in the grand finale, and hope to see him among the six laureates.
        Of course, there will be always many strange stories and legends around big competitions. I’ve already heard one: Martha is paying back to the Croats after the famous Pogorelić case in 1980. Silly one, of course!

      • Branimir says:

        Neven, just to add, not one of the greatest, but absolutely the greatest achievement of a Croatian pianist, of course, in the field of competitions. In the same category is Pogorelich’s Montreal in 1980 (also Chopin which he did not win but was remembered much more than the winner) and Martina Filjak’s Cleveland few years ago.

        • Neven P. says:

          Thanks Branimir! Hope all is well in Zagreb. It’s very cold here in Boston. Went to see a rowing regatta at Harvard this morning and got frozen. I will keep my fingers crossed for Aljosa!

  • Tweettweet says:

    I adore Aimi’s poetic playing. Kate Liu is fantastic as well. I believe there are three students from Curtis in the finals?

  • Please investigate in says:

    No strong favorites, no big names?
    Well, if you feel like this, it may be because there is no strong POLISH contestant now.

    But if you’ve followed the Polish media, you can find out Cho’s been equivocally commented as the most strong contender by the Polish critics. And if you had been in Poland, you would have known how the audiences and journalists in Warsaw reacted to Cho’s performances.

    • Please investigate in says:

      As for BIG NAME, what does it mean by that?

      If it means the contestants’ track records, Cho is the big name. Below is the Cho’s CV.

      ” Born on 28 May 1994, in Seoul, he is a student of Michel Beroff at the Paris Conservatoire. He has won the International Fryderyk Chopin Competition for Young Pianists (2008) and a piano competition in Hamamatsu, Japan (2009), as well as Third Prize in the Pyotr Tchaikovsky Competition in Russia (2011) and the Arthur Rubinstein in Tel Aviv (2014). He has performed in concert with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra (cond. Valery Gergiev), the French Radio, Czech, Seoul (all with Myung-Whun Chung), Munich (cond. Lorin Maazel) and Ural (cond. Dmitry Liss) philharmonic orchestras, Berlin Radio Orchestra (cond. Marek Janowski), Russian National Orchestra (cond. Mikhail Pletnev) and Basel Symphony Orchestra (cond. Pletnev). He has toured Japan, Germany, France, Russia, Poland, Israel, China and the US. He has appeared at the Tokyo Opera, in Osaka, at the Moscow Conservatory and at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, including with recitals. He has participated in numerous European festivals, including in St Petersburg, Moscow, Duszniki-Zdrój and Cracow, as well as festivals in New York and Castleton. As a chamber musician, he has been invited to work with the outstanding violinist Kyung Wha Chung.”

  • Jim says:

    I saw a good bit of the Croation and Japanese candidates and all of Kate Liu’s performance. IMHO, Kate was the best. However, the entire competition is the most wonderful event. All countries owe a debt of gratitude to Warsaw and Poland and M. Chopin. This is a magical competition! Thank you!

  • young says:

    Definitely. After 2009 Hamamatsu competition, Cho’s gotten quite loyal fans in Japan.

  • Mike says:

    So far it looks like there are 8 fabulous young pianists in the finals and then there are also 2 pretty boys liked by that old hag.

  • Patrick Park says:

    After reviewing all performances there is no question that Kate Liu is by far the finest pianist. Her performance of the Chopin Scherzo no. 3 brings back memories of Horowitz. The rare beauty of her playing alone should of given her the gold. There are politics in competitions too! The audience voting was correct she won the competition. Bravo