Just in: Which judge gave 1/10 to the Chopin Competition winner

Warsaw has just won the title for cleanest music competition on earth.

It has published the votes in every round of every single member of the jury.

You can see, at a glance, which judge gave just one mark out of 10 in the final round to the ultimate winner, Seong-Jin Cho, and which judge refused to vote at all for three of the contestants because they had been his students.

Martha Argerich by the way, gave 9 each to the 1st and 2nd placed winners.

Kate Liu, placed 3rd, was the only contestant to receive three maximum 10s.

Fascinating insights: click here.

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    • The perfect accord between Alexeev and Ohlsson to destroy any chances for the sensitive Japanese pianist Aimi is troubling. She received the second best note from Argerich out of all finalists behind Cho and Richard-Hamelin.

  • To say he “refused” to vote is a mischaracterization: He abstained, because those contestants have had lessons with him.

    • The rules require that a juror with a student (or 3) in the competition is not allowed to rate the student. A juror can of course give lower scores to other participants (the weak point in this scenario).

      The 3 scorecards for the 3 solo rounds (1-25 points for each pianist is the range allowed) are fascinating.

      This final scorecard was the overall-score given by each juror, taking into account the 3 solo rounds AND the concerto round (the latter round was not individually scored).

      They were not allowed to give out more than one ’10’ in the final scoring but were allowed to give out multiple 9’s and lower.

      In the first round, FIVE jurors voted not to pass Kate Liu but their opinions went up with the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

      Juror Entremont gave the lowest overall score possible to Cho (the ‘1’ out of 10) despite this level of playing:

      From the winners’ concert:
      Cho plays the Chopin PC 1 and an encore Polonaise
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3aU6DsWbts&t=4h2m20s

      Cho’s encore Polonaise, direct link
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3aU6DsWbts&t=4h46m30s

    • I’ll say this in a separate post because my original reply has been held for awhile probably because of links to Cho’s prizewinner concert solos (in connection with Entrement’s ‘1’ rating for him out of 10).

      Re a juror voting for one or more of his students in the Competition:
      The rules require that a juror with a student (or 3) in the competition is not allowed to rate the student. A juror can of course give lower scores to other participants (the weak point in this scenario).

      The 3 scorecards for the 3 solo rounds (1-25 points for each pianist is the range allowed) are fascinating.

      This final scorecard was the overall-score given by each juror, taking into account the 3 solo rounds AND the concerto round (the latter round was not individually scored).

      They were not allowed to give out more than one ’10’ in the final scoring but were allowed to give out multiple 9’s and lower.

      In the first round, FIVE jurors voted not to pass Kate Liu but their opinions went up with the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

      Juror Entremont gave the lowest overall score possible to Cho (the ‘1’ out of 10) despite all others agreeing on very high scores for him.

      • I am 78 years old and I have been listening to classical music since 1945. I play the piano. I have listened to many great pianist playing that Chopin concerto. I have already listened 9 times to the video of Cho playing during the final. His playing was the most incredible interpretation of that concerto I have ever heard in my life and I am sure the audience would agree. For a judge to give a 1 to me indicates this person is tone deaf.

  • This kind of transparency is great. Well done, the Warsaw Competition.

    One thought, though: surely a major competition winner is supposed to be the one who has the ability to set the world alight – which is unlikely to be the case for the competitor who only one judge thought worth the full 10/10 and their own no. 1 choice. He got the large majority of second places, though, hence the highest overall score.

    In order to promote risk-taking and genuinely individual performances, would it be a worthwhile tweak to have he scores of the judges squared? That would give greater value to a higher score (i.e. extra points for a performance that really rocked a judge’s world).

    For example: suppose there are ten judges, and competitor one gets 7 points from all ten. Under the normal system, that’s a score of 70.

    Another competitor gets five 10s and five 1s – so normally, 55.

    If you square the scores, though, competitor 1 gets 490, and competitor 2 gets 505. Given the need for truly individual artistry to come through, is this worth a thought, or do other posters think I am mad?

    For what it’s worth, this method is used to mark Oxford maths papers – the idea being that you get a better score for solving three questions fully and displaying the most rigorous logic, than for part-solving seven.

    • I’m afraid this is non sequitur.
      Whereas in Oxford one may discard unsolved questions as ones not showing what an applicant is worth, here at competitions ANY mark is a valid one showing the result of a judge’s deliberation regarding a contestant in view of his full performance at a given round, hence ANY mark is as valid and representative as any other of the judges’ opinions and may therefore not be discarded our otherwise treated otherwise than other marks.

      • But “tom” does not suggest discarding any marks or treating different ones differently in an arbitrary way. He simply proposes giving more positive weight to positive marks which consequently means giving less negative weight to negative marks. This may be a valid approach if “individuality” trumps everything else, but does it? Not in my opinion. One cannot eliminate “individuality” factor in voting because every juror has his/her own “individual” taste, and there is nothing wrong with that, but adding more “individuality” in calculating the results may be excessive. It all really depends on the quality of the jury and integrity of all jurors.

    • Tom,
      From jury rules:
      ===
      ” If the number of points awarded by a Juror differs from the arithmetic mean of the score gained by a pianist in a given stage by more than: – 3 points in stage I, – 2 points in stages II and III a second average of the pianist’s score will be calculated. In this case the assessments differing from the first average by more points than shown above will be corrected to fall within the allowed range.

      (E.g. if the average of the points awarded in stage I is 14.35, the assessments higher than 17 points will be corrected to 17.35 and those lower than 12 points will be altered to 11.35.
      Assessments of 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 points will not be changed.)

      The second average obtained in this way will provide the basis for the assessment procedure described in further paragraphs. ”
      ===

    • @Tom, I forgot to point out that Cho received TWO 10’s, not one.

      And Cho received a plethora of 9’s and fewer lower scores than the 2nd place R-H, but it was nevertheless very close.

      The gala performances show clearlyh that the jurors saw, during the competition, a quality that was less evident in Cho’s less-emotional and more business-like competition performances of the concerto. R-H had some felicitous phrasing and interesting, lyrical ideas that I liked, but in the difficult portions of the concerto and other works showed some struggle (and less clarity) while Cho was light, dance-like, subtly expressive all through it, and at ease in passages that so troubled other participants. The positive spirit of that last movement really came through.

      That is a piece that is much more difficult than it would seem, and this was amply demonstrated in the week’s struggles that ended some dreams for some of the others, and they are all technically excellent, so that was an eye-opener.

  • The square of 70 is 4900, not 490. The square of 55 is 3025, not 505. How does that affect the point you were making, or am I not understanding your proposed scoring system?

    • what TOM means is to square the INDIVIDUAL score of each juror, not the SUM of all jurors scores. So in his example, 10 jurors giving 7 means 10 x 49 = 490. Competitor 2 scores (five 10’s, five 1’s) would read 5 x 100 + 5 x 5 = 505

  • So did Akiko Ebi, John Rink, Dina Yoffe and Yundi. They gave the same score as Martha for the first and second prize winners.

    • 1. If one couldn’t decide top place for two pianists equally admired for different reasons, one couldn’t give two 10s, and in that case they’d give two 9’s.

      2. Or in some cases, a juror might not think either one merited a 10 in his/her personal feelings about the performances.

      3. It’s true that the jury rules don’t give priority emphasis to a personal-rating of ’10’ when counting all the jurors’ ratings ‘expressed as rankings’ but which should include all four stages.

  • In terms of the frequency of being ranked as the 1st, the mean and standard deviation of the final points, Cho was the right choice. No doubts.

    I wonder whether Norman has ever listened to the performances by the contestants all the rounds.
    Highly recommend listening to Cho’s performances when DG releases his debut recording.
    Before that, please take time to watch these video clips:
    – Chopin Nocturne in C minor Op. 48 No. 1: https://youtu.be/tSAwZP8e-zQ
    – Chopin Fantasy in F minor Op. 49: https://youtu.be/rhIuclUqaQE
    – Chopin Sonate B flat minor Op. 35: https://youtu.be/zc9n2SOdksE
    – Chopin Concerto No.1 & Polonaise in A flat major Op. 53: https://youtu.be/d3aU6DsWbts?t=4h2m50s

  • Charles Richard-Hamlin impresses me as a musician of the purest type. I wish him life-long success even with the media’s constant promotion of youthful sensationalism.

  • I am reminded of a story – which I hope is true – of Sviatoslav Richter on a jury. He awarded only 10 or zero. When questioned, he said, “Either the contestant is a pianist or s/he isn’t.” Not much good for competitions but you have to admire the honesty and indeed the logic.

  • I think there’s a mistake in how you’ve interpreted this. You say that this competition is the cleanest because it has published the scores. I would like to, in the most inoffensive way possible, say that I disagree. You’ve conceptually misunderstood the difference between being clean and being transparent. By publishing the marks, the competition is being transparent. The action of publishing the marks bares no influence on how clean the actual marking was. All it does is allows us to recognise if the marking was clean or not. I’m not saying that the competition wasn’t clean. I’m just saying that publishing the marks isn’t the determining factor in diagnosing this competition as the cleanest. For instance, there may have been other competitions that were less transparent, but politically cleaner.

  • Mr Entremont compromised himself as a juror and as a man. One must have been really wicked to give 1 point for this performance or ….deaf.

  • I think maybe the ‘1’ from Entremont may be not what it seems; it could be a typo (by whomever typed in the scores), a slip of hand (by Entremont, who is 86), a misreading (by whomever published the scores, if they were originally done by pencil), or some other mistake.

    It would be very odd to intentionally give Cho the lowest possible score; but hey- some musicians can be very opinionated!

  • Kate liu is the gold winner!! Listen to her without watching her!! No one was in her league. 3 perfect 10s. She’s young and watching her was a distraction from her actual performance. We eat with our eyes but music must be heard without visual distraction. Listen again only to the recordings. She was by far the best.

    • I listened to both of them back to back without looking at the video most of time. Kate’s sounded not as clear several places whereas SJC’s sounded clear shimmering all throughout the piece.

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