Tchaikovsky Competition: humility wins the day

On Monday 26 October I attended the London leg of the Tchaikovsky competition winners’ tour at Cadogan Hall. What struck me about the gold medallists in the cello and piano category was their lack of ego. We might expect young musicians to have a respect for the score first and foremost, but often enough – under the influence of their teachers, or intoxicated by their own talent? – concertos become display vehicles for lorryloads of technical accomplishment.

Lukas Geniušas, a pianist to be taken seriously. Photo: Evgenia Levin

Lukas Geniušas, a pianist to be taken seriously. Photo: Evgenia Levin

Another medallist who didn’t make the cut for the tour was the Lithuanian pianist Lukas Geniušas, who took silver to Dmitri Masleev’s gold. A name like that certainly raises expectations, but again what impressed me was his sobriety and humility in the face of the music before him. You can hear that, I think, in this performance of Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto. My Russian won’t stretch to the names of the orchestra and conductor, but they are excellent, and most carefully recorded. Listen in around 18.30: you won’t hear that dialogue between piano and bassoon in 49 out of 50 ‘Emperors’.

It is a fortunate competition contestant that receives not only $30,000 but the opportunity to tour with the Mariinsky Orchestra of St Petersburg, and cellist Andrei Ionuț Ioniță took his chance with both hands. If only he had thought twice about the repertoire to display his undoubted skills. The richly deserving winner of the gold medal at last July’s Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Ionuț Ioniță played against the form for such occasions not with a romantic warhorse such as the obvious Rococo Variations but the C major Cello Concerto by Haydn.

You can read the rest of my review for the Amati magazine here.