Sergeď Salov wins 1st Grand Prize at the MIMC 2004by Laurier Rajotte
/ July 13, 2004
The Ukrainian pianist Sergeď Salov
has taken home the highest honours at this year's Montreal International Musical
Competition, winning the First Grand Prize in the piano competition and also
capturing the People's Award--quite a response to the doubting voices of his
critics. Salov's professionalism on stage made it clear that he was no
stranger to international competition or to performance with an orchestra, and
the force of this artistic experience was ultimately what set him apart from the
other musicians. I had the chance to meet Salov on a few different occasions
during the event, and I was struck by the depth of his artistic vision. He is no
mere collector of trophies, but a musical explorer--one who embraces both
strength and weakness in his search for moments of creative truth. After his
performance at the Gala Concert with the OSM, he was kind enough to answer a few
LSM: What was your motivation for joining this
SS: I have to admit that I wasn't
aware this was a "new" competition. I just thought I was going to participate in
the major competition in Montreal where Ivo Pogorelich was a past winner. But it
makes no difference--I'm sure this event will soon be recognized around the
world as a proper successor to the "old" competition. Also the fact there were
nine finalists made it very interesting. It means we all had a greater chance of
making it to the finals. I also like having to play just twice for the judges.
It means not so much stress for the musicians, and the judges can be more
attentive because they don't suffer any burnout.
LSM: Did you think you had a chance of
SS: Well, I thought I could do well
but I never expected the Grand Prize! My real goal was to play the Brahms
Piano Concerto No 2 with an orchestra one more time. I really love this
work and hope to have lots more opportunities for working with an orchestra.
This award from the MIMC will help make all of that possible.
LSM: What was you favourite part of the
SS: Actually, my favourite memory is
simply of walking through the streets of Montreal. It's such a pleasant city to
be in. Everyone's smiling and relaxed, there's lots of space--quite an inspiring
place to live. As for the competition, I'd have to say the best moment was just
20 minutes ago, seeing the audience rise to their feet for an ovation. It's such
a moving moment for any musician.
LSM: What are your plans for the
SS: My concert schedule for the year
is just winding down. And I've just had a birthday, played the Brahms Piano
Concerto No 2, and won the Grand Prize here. It's all too unbelievable;
maybe I should take some time off! But I have concerts to play in England in the
fall, and I'll be back here in Quebec next January. And I have to finish school
in July. That'll be 10 years of formal study finally over.
LSM: What advice would you give to young
musicians hoping to compete internationally?
SS: First of all, I would tell
them not to aim just at becoming successful on the competition circuit. You have
to love the music for what it is and what it can be--it's the connection between
your inner self and your musical explorations that makes everything worthwhile.
This Brahms concerto is a good example. It's not just a display of skill. It's a
living memory of his life and impressions, from the time he was playing piano in
beer halls right up to when he became the most celebrated composer in Vienna.
You have to be ready for the same honest exploration of your soul if you want to
come close to recreating that kind of spirit. So I think young musicians need to
be wary of the desire for competitive glory. Awards from a jury are fine things,
but it's your love of the music that will make your career stand the test of
[Translated by Tim Brierley]