Poles lead as Chopin Competition gets down to the final 23

Poles lead as Chopin Competition gets down to the final 23


norman lebrecht

October 13, 2021

The 45 pianists who qualified for stage 2 have been whittled down by half. A quarter of the survivors are Polish.

The Jury of the 18th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition is chaired by Professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń.

1. Mr Piotr Alexewicz, Poland
2. Ms Leonora Armellini, Italy
3. Mr J J Jun Li Bui, Canada
4. Ms Michelle Candotti, Italy
5. Ms Yasuko Furumi, Japan
6. Mr Alexander Gadjiev, Italy/Slovenia
7. Ms Avery Gagliano, U.S.A.
8. Mr Martin Garcia Garcia, Spain
9. Ms Eva Gevorgyan, Russia/Armenia
10. Mr Nikolay Khozyainov, Russia
11. Ms Su Yeon Kim, South Korea
12. Ms Aimi Kobayashi, Japan
13. Mr Mateusz Krzyżowski, Poland
14. Mr Jakub Kuszlik, Poland
15. Mr Hyuk Lee, South Korea
16. Mr Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu, Canada
17. Mr Szymon Nehring, Poland
18. Mr Kamil Pacholec, Poland
19. Mr Hao Rao, China
20. Ms Miyu Shindo, Japan
21. Mr Kyohei Sorita, Japan
22. Mr Hayato Sumino, Japan
23. Mr Andrzej Wierciński, Poland



  • Tweettweet says:

    I hope Aimi Kobayashi will get a top prize. She’s such a marvellous player with natural musicality.

  • Pianist says:

    How is that ok that President and Vice President of jury (and others!) having SO MANY own students competing (and advancing). It should be just not allowed.

    • Phil says:

      Jurors can’t vote for own students

      • Ya what says:

        No but they can vote each other’s, or vote down anyone who is threat to their own students.

        • Agree with you says:

          Indeed judges can enter coalitions.

          The best we spectators can do right now is apply pressure to the competition to once again release full score sheets of the entire competition.

          Fortunately I feel we can expect support in this quest from certain jurors, for instance Dang Thai son, who praised the open scoring in the past, and of course himself was damaged by behavior of judges in the past.

        • Trifonovfan says:

          If any judge is 3 points out of the average of the jurors, his/her score will be dropped.
          Therefore no single judge can influence the decision.

      • Anon says:

        Do you feel comfortable if somebody else’s teacher, who prepared or pupil for years to this event evaluate your performance?

    • E says:

      They do not cast a vote when
      their own students play.

      • Anon says:

        And how can they vote for others? You think their opinions about others playing are not affected, if they are nervous and worried about own (multiple) students performance?

    • Geoff Cox says:

      It would be far better not to have anyone on the Jury with students in the competition.

  • Justyna says:

    Piotr Alexewicz and Xiaoyu Liu

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Was it appropriate to use the term “survivors” to describe Polish pianists?? Appalling bad taste.

    • V. Lind says:

      Don’t be so bloody absurd. The term is clearly used in the context of having made it through an elimination phase of a competition.

      This is the third of your posts that I have seen today and they are all, even for you, demented. What have you been drinking?

  • Florence says:

    I was surprised to see so many wonderful talented chinese contestants and even more surprised to see how few of them are going through to the finals. Can’t wait to watch finals.

    • Rene says:

      Totally agree
      Yutong Sun for example played marvellously but is out
      On the other hand, some rather mediocre polish pianists advanced…

  • Croak says:

    Has anyone else seen what this former winner is up to these days?


  • Jesse Davis says:

    You see, the Poles have the music of Chopin deep in their spirit from birth, whilst many other cultures must first discover and internalize before approaching what comes naturally. That said, my favorite Italian pianist Alberto Ferro came up just short after a rousing and breathtaking performance. Eva, Aimi and Cateen were also good, and the sing-along Garcia Garcia… What can I say?

  • Michaela Böhmig says:

    I expected more pianists from Japan, China, Korea in the third stage, especially Hyonglok Choi, who was simply exceptional. Some of those admitted to stage 3 are weak, not original and sometimes even boring.

  • binky boo boo says:

    Who even cares about competitions today? They are all rigged anyway and the prizes are given to cheaters who are, in one way or another, connected to the jury.

    • Mark Mortimer says:

      Lol Binky Boo- ‘Cheaters’- difficult to know how you can deceive in a performance of a Chopin Etude or Scherzo- its either good playing or not. But I do completely get your point- teachers on juries lobbying for their own pupils & manipulating the system to do down to other more worthy contestants is a shameful practice. As per previous post- there should now be a written law in international music contests- absolutely no teacher/pupils or even masterclass involvement with the contestants- amongst the jury. Of Course- this is not easy to enforce- as the top pedagogues & list of young contestants is a fairly small one. Everyone knows each other so to speak & the good ones are easily remembered. I suspect at a competition as prestigious as the Chopin (OK- some comments suggest a Polish bias- but could this be because the Polish kids understand Chopin better?) this is not a factor. Having said that- the dreadful woman from the Juilliard School (forget her name) who’s been at it for decades- aggressively lobbying for her own pupils whilst deliberately giving low marks to her rivals is nothing less than disgraceful.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    Surely young Syzmon Nehring- Polish boy- previous finalist- is the favourite. To me- he’s the stand out contestant- a natural Chopinist- not just the fast notes- but the poetry & story-telling element required of this enigmatic composer. A highly specialised competition- & good to see a worthy jury (several of whom are the greatest Chopin players of the past half century) also including John Rink- Chopin scholar & my old lecturer at London University. In stark contrast to the recent Leeds Competition panel who appeared, on paper at least, to be a bit of a joke- a random hotchpotch.

    • Trifonovfan says:

      You think a 17 member jury that only have 3 Asian jurors is fair to the huge amount of talented Asian pianists?
      Of the 85 pianists who made it into the 1st stage, only 1 Chinese made it into the 3rd stage, while 6 Poles passed.
      It cost a massive outrage.

      • Mark Mortimer says:

        Trifinovfan- yes I actually do think that is a fair representation of Asian pianists on the jury. If we’re going to have a futile debate about race in this competition- you might also like to note that exactly half the recently announced finalists are Asian or of Asian ancestry. I’m sure they all play well- but that could be seen as ‘over’ representation of Asians in the final. Those who also claim a ‘Polish’ bias (which doesn’t add up with the elimination of the highly deserving Nehring) should note only 2 Poles in the final. Another fact- less than half the jury are Polish- whereas in previous contests- particularly going back to the ‘golden’ days of this particular competition- the jury was mostly Polish. I feel that we shouldn’t be blind to the facts- whatever one feels about the rights & wrongs of these events & the futures of the young players- who- 100% of them- desperately want a performing career (in an increasingly desperate market) & love the piano.

  • Jarosław Kaczyński says:

    Of course the Poles lead.. It’s TVP funded

  • IRENE WHITE says:

    Absolutely amazing. Congratulations to the 23.

  • Salon performer says:

    Some good performance in my opinion. Some surprise omissions indeed…too many to name…Khozhyanov is the only pianist so far to have got close set to Chopin’s score with the A flat polonaise op. 53… Unfortunately it grates that too many take the left hand octaves in the second theme way to fast… Chopin himself hated it when pianists did this. The intention to my mind is to create the effect of a line of cavalry trotting on the distance, which slowly becomes a canter, then a gallop. none have kept any kind of pace or urgency at bars120…nor have any accented the notes that are marked from here onwards, particularly the ringing C from bar 143 onwards. Bravura is not everything in Chopin, and many are lacking attention to detail, and too much emphasis on rubato, which should come naturally anyway…

  • Trifonovfan says:

    I’m a classical pianist who paid a lot of attention this competition.
    After 3 rounds, I predict the following will win a prize:
    Bruce Liu

    • Salon performer says:

      I think you are pretty close with that prediction. How do you feel about some way too fast scherzos in the b flat sonata…