From its inception in 1977, the Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia (like the Sydney Opera House, venue for its finale) has placed Australia in the eyes of the world as one of the top ranking destinations for competitions of this kind. It is the musical equivalent of the Olympics, bringing the best pianists from across the world every four years to Sydney.
And it is Olympian feats of pianism that make this competition so noteworthy.
A strong field of international and Australian pianists vie for every round, and the eliminations are eagerly watched. Through a journey of recitals, chamber music and finally concerto performances, the field narrows to just a handful of pianists until the prizegiving. There are numerous prizes, even one donated by the MTA of NSW of $1500: Encouragement Award given after Stage IV for a pianist not selected for the Finals. This was won by Mariangela Vacatello.
This recording, the second volume in the series from the 2008 competition contains highlights of the Chamber Music and Concerto phases. Stretching over 4 CDs, there are quite wonderful live performances from the very best: Konstantin Shamray (First prize Winner and People’s Choice), Tatiana Kolesova (Second placegetter), Ran Dank (3rd placegetter), Charlie Albright and Hoang Pham.
Concertos featured are Mozart’s D minor (No 20) and B flat major (No 27), and Prokofiev’s G minor (No 2) and C major (No 3). There are four Piano Trios as well: Beethoven (Archduke), Brahms (B major, Op 8), Ravel (A minor) and Mendelssohn (No 1 D minor). This compilation brings various winning performances together, such as the Mozart Concerto Prize, 19th/20th Century Concerto Prize, SSO Prize, and the Chamber Music Prize. All tracks have captured moments filled with the competitor’s own high-wire stress as they each vie for that ultimate performance. It is music-making of extraordinary energy and passion.