Review: Leeds International Piano Competition

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At Leeds University

Last week’s 62 competitors were reduced to 30 for this week’s Second Stage, and later today the judges will select 12 for the Semi-Finals.

The Second Stage has been a searching examination of technique and musicianship, each player giving a 55 minute recital of major works.

The jury, as in a criminal trial, are prohibited from discussing the ‘case’ with anyone outside their little circle and, besides, they have problems of their own. Of the original 14 jurists, Artur Pizarro withdrew last week and Adam Gatehouse this week – both due to family medical emergencies.

Without knowing the minds of the jurists, it is impossible to predict their choices. But as a general observation about many of the competitors, there is much sound and fury going on and overmuch detail.

Consequently the underlying shape and pulse of the music is obscured. But there are, encouragingly, differences of tone and touch among these young players.

What will be the effect on the winners when they are finally known on 15 September? Well, ‘the Leeds’ is still among the best of the competitions worldwide, but whether it still launches big careers is less certain.

Semi-Finals: September 9-11, Leeds University Great Hall.