Just in: Juilliard guy makes China final

Just in: Juilliard guy makes China final


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2019

The first China International Music Competition has just named 3 finalists:

Alexander Malofeev Russia Age 17 Gnessin Moscow Special School of Music

MacKenzie Melemed USA Age 24 The Juilliard School

Tony Siqi Yun Canada Age 18 The Juilliard School, Pre-College Division

They will each now perform a concerto in Beijing’s National Centre for Performing Arts with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. Alexander Malofeev will play Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major; MacKenzie Melemed will perform Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, and Tony Siqi Yun will play Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23.



  • fflambeau says:

    The Gnessin Moscow Special School of Music has produced, among others, Daniel Trifonov and Evgeny Kissin. For piano, it might be the best in the world.

    • Anon says:

      This boy is directly supported by Gergiev and despite very unsuccessful performances is in the Finals. Disgrace to all other participating pianists who played so much better!
      Please do not compare that to Kissin or Trifonov.

    • Yuri Boomaroundoff says:

      Could be, for those who think Trifonov’s posturing and slobbering over the keyboard is a fitting example to posterity.

  • fflambeau says:

    Alexander Malofeev, the Russian, has recorded his debut album at the age of 15. He has won at least 3 international piano competitions and performed with Russia’ leading orchestras under the batons of conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Kazuki Yamada, Yuri Tkachenko and Vladimir Spivakov.

    I would say he is the favorite.

    • Xenophon Nevzorov says:

      I heard he started playing at 18 months, gave his first recital at 3 years and performed all Tchaikovsky’s piano concertos in one evening to tumultuous public acclaim at the age of 4.

  • Terence says:

    Mr Melemed is plus seven years older than the other two:

    Presuming that all three are of similar high standard (I avoid writing equal), one wonders what he has learned in those extra seven years or so.

    More repertoire perhaps?

    • fflambeau says:

      Well, 24 is hardly an oldster.

      He’s studying with Emanuel Axe for an advanced degree at Julliard, has learned Finnish at Columbia U, and has lived and concertized there for over 3 years. He won the 1st Prize and Chamber Music Prize at the 4th Maj Lind International Piano Competition in Finland in August 2017.

      He has a very interesting and diverse background. He’s also won some other top prizes including grand prize at the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition plus the Juilliard School’s 2019 Leo B. Ruiz Carnegie Hall Recital Prize, The Juilliard School’s 2018 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Prize, and the 2018 Paris Recital Prize from Poland’s Prix de Tarnów Competition and the New York International Piano Competition.

      He also has over the years given lots of concerts to old and retired people; something of a rarity on this level in classical music. He also has championed new repertoire which is also perhaps unusual for someone of his age and at this level. He has championed the works of American-Israeli composer including his 3 etudes and his Sonata No. 2. Finally, he’s been recording: he has released at least 2 albums (Steinway and Warner labels).

      I’d say he’s a very strong competitor and a most unusual one. In fact, the final three are all very strong candidates.

      • A pianist says:

        Sorry to tell you but that is a pretty average resume for a Juilliarder. I have never heard of any of those competitions. Is he by chance a Kaplinsky student?

  • George says:

    What else does anybody expect by having Kaplinsky in the jury?

    Everywhere where she is – results are adjusted to some agenda.

    No matter how much they would tell you from the stage, that this competition is fair and real – it is not. And was never suppose to be.

    • fflambeau says:

      Why? Can you be more specific?

      Yes, she is the chairman of the jury but it is a very distinguished one with 11 members and many top prize winners and teachers from famous music schools (Curtis, Moscow Conservatory, Julliard, Paris Conservatory, Royal College of Music, London, Colburn School of USC, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Wien , etc.). There are at least 2 Russians on the jury.

      Here is the jury: “An illustrious international jury of 11 members has been assembled and they include Li-guang Wang(President and Artistic Director of China International Music Competiton), Arie Vardi, Dmitri Alexeev, Fabio Bidini, Jan Jiracek von Arnim, Katarzyna Popowa- Zydron, Boris Berman, Lydia Artymiw, Michel Beroff, Veda Kaplinsky (Artistic Director of Piano Competition and Chairman of Jury) and Warren Jones.”

      The final 3 contestants, in my opinion, represent a very strong field and each of the 3 has won numerous prizes. Only one is of Chinese ancestry and that may be the deciding factor, since the competition is in China and the President of the music competition is Chinese.

      Let’s hope that the competition is fair. It looks like it could be anyone’s for the taking.

      Note too that Julliard has 2 students in the finals, not just one.

      • anon says:

        “The final 3 contestants… Only one is of Chinese ancestry”

        Yun? But how do you know? I thought Yun was a Korean surname.

        • Anon says:

          This Fflambeau person is definitely connected to the organization of this competition.

          Fflambeau! This competition is live-streamed. Professionals are listening on the Internet and are capable to build own opinion.

          Best solution for next time – do not livestream. Then tell us how great the finalists are. We will have to believe.

        • fflambeau says:

          Try doing a search for Tony Siqi Yun, if you can.

          Since you probably cannot, I did the work for you: “Yun (simplified Chinese: 云; traditional Chinese: 雲; pinyin: Yún) is a Chinese surname, ranked 41st in the Song dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames.”

          Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yun_(Chinese_name)

      • Anon says:

        They always say that. Distinguished jury members are so fair and so high qualified.

        But you can’t lie to the larger audience! Public on Internet is not stupid. Listen to their Mozart round!
        Poor musicianship. All of them.
        How did they get there?

      • George says:

        This jury is the combination of most corrupted people in the history of competitions!

  • Zentrifugal Forz says:

    The hackneyed, flogged-to-death repertoire to be played in the final says it all.

  • Fliszt says:

    Instead of wasting time politicising & ranting vacuous conspiracy theories, watch these contestants performances on
    YouTube: these 3 finalists are indeed exceptional, outstanding players, and 2 of them shouldn’t be penalized for studying at Juilliard.

    • Pinnocchio Busoni says:

      Well, if no new speed record for the Wreckedmanenough Paganini Variations 23 & 24 gets set up, there won’t be much beyond the prize money to distinguish this competition from the dozens of others.

    • Anon says:

      Exactly! Listen to YouTube and see for yourself how many much more deserving candidates was unfairly eliminated and how low level of performance Malofeev had in the semis.

  • observer says:

    It’s not just that competitions are for horses, not artists, as Bartok noted, but that it is a competition with no finish line, no goal, no umpire, and no impartiality.

  • ANDREA says:

    Veda Kaplinsky is a piano therapist who studied piano in Israel with Arie Vardi and for nearly twenty years has ruled and misruled the International piano competition world with shame. From her perch as the head of the piano department and the pre-college division of the Juilliard School, she has sown disorder and chaos in the classical piano world with a vengeance. In this first really important piano competition in China she has surrounded herself, as head of the jury, with her former teacher (Mr. Vardi) and her sycophants to deliver an outrageous result: two students of Juilliard (including one of the pre-college division) out of the three finalists were chosen to play with the great Philadelphia Orchestra. They were far from the best participants in the competition!
    But what is most amazing that there are no great Chinese pianists on this jury. As if they did not exist! Where is Fou Ts’ong, Liu Shi Kun, or Zhou Guangren? The Chinese government has let itself be conned by this totally unprincipled lady.
    When the Russian government launched the now glorious Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958, which was won by Van Cliburn, all of the greatest Russian pianists were on the jury including Richter and Giulels. It was their honor and duty to be there and it was Khrushchev who guaranteed that Cliburn would win his well deserved honor.
    The First important Piano Competition in China is a sham. The Chinese government has spent millions for this event. What a pity for China and the classical music world!