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La Scena Musicale Online Reviews and News / Critiques et Nouvelles

Visit La Scena Musicale Online Reviews. [Index] Critiques de La Scena Musicale Online

CIMJM in Violin Wraps Up with Some Surprises

By Piotr Gawek and Mary Katharine Wallbridge-Gawek / June 5, 2003

Last night marked the end of the finals of the Concours International de Montréal des Jeunesses Musicales (violin, 2003). Following the performances by the three remaining finalists, the prize winners were announced.

Nine candidates were advanced to the finals, held from June 2 through June 4, 2003 at Montreal's Place des Arts. The participants in the final round were Diana Galvydyte of Lithuania, Alexis Cárdenas Marcano of Venezuela, Oleg Kaskiv of Ukraine, Nicolas Koeckert of Germany, Matthieu Arama of France, Laura Andriani of Italy, Yossif Ivanov of Belgium, Julia Sakharova of Russia, and Linus Roth of Germany. (To read about the other talented young players who competed in the semi-final round, see "CIMJM Semi-finals Showcase High Standards and Controversy" online at

Among the most original, and arguably the most musical performances given during the final round were those of Linus Roth and Laura Andriani.

Linus Roth has been hailed as one of today's most promising young performers. Unlike many other competitors, Roth did not treat his concerto (the extremely difficult Brahms Violin Concerto), as an overly rehearsed, overly-determined component of a competition program. On the contrary, Roth gave the feeling of being fully present and behind each and every note that he played, playing deliberately, and offering a tremendous amount of passion and courage of conviction. He had an excellent communication with the conductor and with the orchestra. Roth is an original, and an artist. To his credit, he has already released a recording of the Mozart Violin Concerto KV 219 with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn conducted by Joerg Faerber.

Laura Andriani’s performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto was lyrical and poetic. Although her playing reminded the listener that she hails from Italy–where lyricism in violin playing remains highly cherished and cultivated–she is an individual, with a manner of expression uniquely her own. Andriani’s originality and affinity for the new was recognized in 1997 for her performance of Luciano Berio’s Sequenza VIII at the Premio Niccolo Paganini International Violin Competition in Genoa. Throughout this competition, Andriani again made it clear that she does not merely re-iterate the precepts of old traditions. The sense of individuality and newness that infuses her artistry makes her worth watching and listening to.

Yossif Ivanov offered a very solid, very fine performance of the Sibelius Concerto. Ivanov–at sixteen years old, he was the youngest player in the competition–boasted a very mature sound and fine, solid technique. He achieved beautiful phrasing, and offered a very classical presence in the finals. While he did not take many risks, Ivanov's performance also succeeded in moving the audience. His opening of the third movement of the Sibelius Concerto was stunning: his rhythmical work created a genuine sense of movement in the music. Ivanov studies with Igor Oistrakh at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels.

Alexis Cárdenas Marcano’s performance of the same Sibelius Concerto conveyed the fact that he is very comfortable with this work, and that he is confident in his role as a performer. Marcano also had his own style, which seemed to reflect both a classical orientation and a yearning for something different. His phrasing was rather routine, but overall, he had a fair communication with the conductor and orchestra.

Matthieu Arama also offered a very solid performance of the Sibelius Concerto. Arama created a sense of being connected with the music. At the same time, however, he seemed rather cautious and disinclined toward the spontaneity and risk-taking needed to achieve a freshly created musical product. He offered a more circumscribed range of dynamics in his playing, but on the whole, Arama exhibited solid musical instincts and a great deal of technical skill. Arama is also presently a student of Igor Oistrakh.

Oleg Kaskiv’s performance was lacking in overall production of sound. At times, he moved excessively, given what the music seemed to require. Kaskiv has a tendency to hold the violin low, and in the process, tends to close off his sound.

Julia Sakharova’s performance of the Mendelssohn Concerto was musical and mostly accurate; at times, though, it seemed self-conscious and ever so slightly unstable or insecure.

In his performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto, Nicolas Koeckert prioritized the technical aspects of the piece. Koeckert, a very tall individual, stood somewhat awkwardly throughout the competition, holding his instrument quite far forward and in front of him. One wonders whether Koeckert’s stance disconnected him from the instrument, and by extension, from the music. One had a sense that he was inclined to dominate his instrument, rather than to treat it as a more natural extension of himself, capable of helping him to realize the goal of personal expression.

Diana Galvydyte appeared quite nervous in her performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto, and she at times had difficulty with the challenging work and with coordination with the orchestra.

The announcement of the winners at the end of the final round brought several surprises. Notably, neither Andriani nor Roth received any prizes, leading one to speculate that originality and individualism were not rewarded in this particular competition, and that they perhaps are not rewarded in general in international violin competitions. Hopefully this is not the case. Yossif Ivanov received the first grand prize, the Standard Life Prize, of $25,000. The second grand prize of $15,000 was awarded to Alexis Cárdenas Marcano. The other winners are as follows:

Third Grand Prize, $7,500: Matthieu Arama

Fourth Prize, $5,000: Nicolas Koeckert

Fifth Prize, $4,000: Oleg Kaskiv

Sixth Prize, $3,000: Julia Sakharova

Joseph Rouleau Award, granted to the best Competition participant from Quebec, $5000.00: Jean-Sebastien Roy

Best interpretation of the unpublished imposed work, $5000.00: Diana Galvydyte

Galaxie Rising Stars Program of the CBC, granted to the best Canadian participant, $5000.00: Sarah Pratt

The Gala concert, during which the CIMJM awards will be officially presented to the winners, will be held tomorrow, Friday, June 6, 2003 at 8:00 p.m. at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of the Place des Arts. The winner of the People’s Award, "Tribute to Arthur Leblanc", will also be announced at the Gala concert.

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